With a love of food stemming from his travels, the 42-year-old was excited to get amongst the action and learn some new skills during his time on the show. Although he admits it was a tad more serious than he had envisioned.
“As soon as we got into day one, it was like, ‘Holy s--t, this is not a joke! This is like a legit cooking show,’” he laughs. “Suddenly you start to really want to win it.”
And although he can’t give too much away, Le Nevez says he’s proud of how he went on the show.
“It might be to the end … it might be all the way to the very end,” he teases. “Or it might not! But I had a great time, honestly. And now I’m back here in Los Angeles and I’m cooking all kinds of things for my family and they are enjoying it!”
What made you sign up for the show?
For me, it’s really about the food and it’s about the judges and getting to spend time with some experts. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of a lot of reality television, but MasterChef is such a different show. It’s a show that tries to elevate people and tries to bring people together, and that’s what good food and good kitchens do.
Have you always enjoyed cooking?
I grew up with a really [basic] palate and a really narrow understanding of food. Then I travelled the world, where I was lucky enough to visit Cambodia and South-East Asia, and then parts of Africa, and my mind just got blown away by the idea of food and how it could bring people together. It was something that I wanted to pass onto my kids, because you know I think if you have a really courageous and brave understanding of food, it can open you up to the world.
So food wasn’t always a big part of your life …
I’m allergic to a lot of seafood, I didn’t need eggs till I was 30 … there’s a lot of things I didn’t and don’t eat. And then when I was at university, I became a vegetarian for seven years but I was like the worst vegetarian in the world! I had no real understanding of how you can use so many incredible vegetables as protein.
So pre-show, I would definitely sit on a two out of 10 [skill level]. I really went into this show, like it was a cooking experience for a couple of months, to try and turn my two into maybe an eight. Now I’ve come home and now I’m making fresh-made pasta and fresh-made ice cream. My kids are eating food they didn’t eat before I went on the show, so it was definitely worth it.
Was it intimidating cooking for the judges?
It was actually! I’d never done reality television before, so you get nervous about what it might be like. You turn up and think, “Well, they’re gonna take care of me. It’s fine.” And then day one, they’re brutal. I have to give the judges such credit that this is a true competition, they’re not pulling any punches. One hundred per cent from when the cook starts to when we plate up, it’s game on.
You have a cult following in Australia due to Offspring. Do you still enjoy that connection?
I thought it was just due to my charisma [laughs]. No, honestly, if it wasn’t for Offspring, I probably wouldn’t be doing MasterChef so I’m appreciative of being involved in the show that found its audience. When I was back in Australia, I had the opportunity to catch up with some of the cast and crew. It was great. They’re family to me and I loved that experience.
Could you see Offspring doing a reboot?
It’s a tough one. The cool me is like, ‘Nah, we’ll just leave it. We nailed it, let’s walk away.’ But you just never know in the future … maybe we could do Patrick and Nina: The Musical or The Prequels!
Celebrity MasterChef premieres Oct. 10, 7.30pm on Network Ten and Ten Play On Demand.