What was the biggest lesson or skill you learned during your time on MasterChef that you believe contributed to your victory?
I think this year I was just more focused. I was mentally strong and mentally prepared. It didn't matter what the challenge was - I wasn't going to lose my marbles! That's what got me all the way through.
Can you share some insights into your culinary style and how it evolved during your MasterChef experience?
I think it was it was evident which way I was sort of going. Travelling around Australia, I was living in a bus so there was no big kitchen, no oven and I started to cook over fire a lot. And there's something about it that I really love. So as you've seen, the hibachi comes out a lot throughout the season. But it's what I love and I love the flavours and you know, everyone loves a campfire and that smell of charcoal. So that's definitely where I'm going and I love it.
Were there any judges' feedback or critiques that made a lasting impact on your cooking style? How did you incorporate their advice into your dishes?
There was one cook with the family letter, and Jock had tears in his eyes when he was eating my food. You know, that is something that I probably won't ever forget. When you cook food, you know, you cook with emotion and when people eat, they eat with emotion. So seeing Jock tearing up while he's eating and in a good way, it was really really special for me.
MasterChef is known for its intense pressure and time constraints. How did you manage the stress during challenges and maintain the quality of your dishes?
Yeah, look at the time, very, very poorly. Like it's one of those things that gets everybody all the time. No matter how much you can prepare, the time just flies. In the kitchen, 60 minutes feels like 45 minutes and you just can't go too crazy and just need to cook the food you love.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes moments or stories from your time on MasterChef that viewers might not be aware of?
Every season you find your little crew and your mates and you know I've got my mates from the first season who I see regularly and this year is the same. And I'll tell you one thing that I will miss a lot is Theo's bread. In all honesty, I've never tasted bread like it and he would come up and bring it in the morning and we'd get a nice sourdough loaf every day from him. That's something I will miss.
The big question…What's next? Do you have any specific goals or aspirations for the future?
A cookbook! It's a little bit different though. Obviously, my journey was a little bit different with my mental health and I think I need to keep pushing the conversation to break down the stigma. I'm trying to sort out a barbecue sort of cookbook with a little bit of a mental health twist. Maybe a mental health toolbox in the back, some stories, something so people can relate.