There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as bandaged-hand cook and all-round nice guy Brendan Pang was sent home in the Curtis Stone elimination episode of Ten’s MasterChef. We caught up with the Perth social worker, 24, to find out what went down with that steak— and what’s ahead.
So, tears all round tonight. How did you feel when you were told you’d be going home?
I was definitely devastated, but more so because I was leaving the other contestants—I’d became so close to them. We pretty much became like family, really quickly, so that was quite devastating.
Who were you closest to?
I would say Reece (Hignell) and Jess (Liemantara). Also Kristen (Sheffield), Lisa (Diep) and Tim (Talam).
How disappointed were you about the fact your meat was undercooked? Cause there’s LITERALLY a minute’s difference between ‘blue’ and ‘rare’...
Yeah, I think it was the pressure that got to me. Because I had done so many elements— the creole sauce, the chutney, the flatbread—I left [the meat] to the last minute. Because it was such a thin piece of steak, I thought I wouldn’t need that long.
It was really disappointing. If I had left it on for another minute or so, it would have been OK. But as soon as I cut into that meat, I kind of knew.
It was lovely to hear Gary and George saying how ‘loved’ you were by everyone.
It was really nice. They had said such nice things before about my food, but when I was leaving, to say all that, that meant a lot more than them giving me good feedback about my cooking.
People have become very invested in your journey, especially after you hurt yourself so badly two weeks ago and were comforted by Nigella Lawson. How hard was it competing with 13 stitches in your hand?
It was really difficult. I thought I was going home that day, and it was probably the worst injury I have ever had, so I was quite shocked. But at the same time, I was really worried that it might be the end for me. I was quite lucky my team pulled through.
And now you have a physical scar to remind you of your time on MasterChef?
Yeah! It’s a pretty cool scar—it looks like a little Harry Potter scar, a little zigzag.
How did the other contestants help after your injury? You must have been pretty impaired?
They were awesome. Back in the house, Jess would make me breakfast. And people would help me in the kitchen. We did ‘Practice Cooks’ back in the house, and I was quite devastated that I couldn’t practice, so I was reading a lot of my cookbooks. But everyone was so nice. I came back from the hospital and as soon as I walked through the door, I remember Gina saying, ‘Do you want a sandwich?’ Everyone was really lovely.
Eliminations are very emotional. Is it as intense as it all looks?
It’s a lot of things, but yes, it’s very emotional. We all give up so much—I left my job up in Broome, and my house up there, and I moved back home with my parents. But just on top of that, the pressure of the judges being there, and you’re on national TV, and you’ve got the guest chef coming in, and the time limit as well…
Yes, that time limit!
I think I didn’t realise how real it was. They say ‘Your sixty minutes start now’ and that’s exactly what it’s like when we film - there is NO stopping the clock. We don’t really get much help throughout the cooks - it’s all on us.
It was a huge risk to leave your work and take part. Does this mean you won’t be back to your old job?
I’m looking forward to making this my new career. I didn’t really have an option to go back to Broome. I fully left my job when I left for the competition. Social work will always be a part of me and I am really passionate about charity and social justice. I’m sure I can combine the two in the future.
You’ve been doing some work at Petition Kitchen and Wildflower. Sounds great! But what happened to opening a cafe with your mum?
Pretty much as soon as I got back, I was ready to get back into the kitchen and further develop my skills, especially in a professional sense. I did some work experience with Jessie Blake at Petition Kitchen, also at Wildflower, but I’d like to open that cafe. I am spending a lot of time with mum in the kitchen and learning a lot more about her cakes, and her kitchen. I am having a lot of fun back home without the pressure!
Are the wheels in motion to start something?
Not at the moment. But I have been talking to Fremantle Markets. I want to start small first, get a little stall and find my feet and go from there.
In a jam-packed episode of WHO magazine’s TV podcast, Binge List, we discuss the returns of Arrested Development and The Karate Kid (as spin-off series Cobra Kai). Plus, what’s the verdict on Love Island Australia? We also take a look at hilarious spy thriller Killing Eve, crime docuseries The Staircase and comedian Ali Wong’s Netflix specials. Listen below, or on iTunes: http://po.st/syE3JF or OMNY: http://po.st/28BGXd