She’s 57, from Queensland and dreams of hosting ladies lunches in her own restaurant one day.
Her name is Benita Orwell and tonight she was eliminated from Channel 10’s MasterChef Australia.
She was trying to cook prawn wontons with broth under extreme time pressure.
According to the judges, her biggest mistake was taking her eyes off the broth towards the end of the cook because the broth burnt with only minutes to go. The sauce she made as a substitute was “underwhelming“.
But some Australians are thinking her elimination has less to do with crustaceans, and more to do with the fact she’s over 50.
“Masterchef is a bit ageist I think. They portray the older contestants unfavourably,” one viewer commented on Facebook.
“Again the judges are influenced by the ‘age’of the contestant!!!! Don’t they realise that 50 per cent of their audience is over 50!!! Get real,” another said.
“Classic case of ‘Ageism’ in that decision. Benita deserved to be there to learn more every bit as much as Nicole. Elimination should be on the worst dish not the oldest person Masterchef,” one commenter wrote.
Indeed, Orwell was the oldest contestant in this year’s competition. And, earlier this week, we saw the show’s second oldest amateur chef Pia Gava, 49, sent home as well.
The Brisbane mother of two is devastated to be leaving the show. Part of Orwell’s mission on MasterChef was to show others they are “never too old to follow their dreams”.
“I desperately don’t want to go home today,” she told the camera.
“Desperately do not want to go. I’m going to fight like it’s the biggest fight of my life, because I want to stay here.”
Listen: Masterchef managed to do in one episode what My Kitchen Rules failed to in a whole season.
Most importantly, though, she hasn’t lost sight of her dream.
“My food dream is to host ladies’ long lunches. Beautiful ladies having a few drinks, eating food, and just having a really good time getting to know each other,” Orwell said.
“I’ve had the best time. I’ve learned so many new recipes and ideas and techniques. Anyone who thinks that they’re too old, well, don’t think that you’re too old. And if you’ve always had a dream and you still haven’t achieved it, well, go and do it.”
Good luck, Benita. Go and get ’em.