PS: How would you describe your run on the show looking back? I feel like you were a bit of an underdog!
Arum: Yeah, right from the word go, really, because I was the last person to get an apron. And genuinely, when I was in the top 24, I was aiming for top 23! [Laughs] I managed to stay in there and the more time went on, the more I enjoyed it and built up a bit of confidence. It did take me a while to get going and cook the sort of food I wanted to cook, but I certainly look back on it as an awesome experience and would do the same again.
PS: Would you say sweet or savoury is more your thing?
Arum: Definitely savoury, but I certainly surprised myself a few times with a few desserts as well. I cooked more savoury towards the end, but put up a few dishes that were sweet, and they were maybe some of the most satisfying as well, because they were more outside of my comfort zone. To get good feedback on desserts and push myself a bit more was very satisfying.
PS: What did you find hardest throughout the competition?
Arum: It sounds cliché, but it's true: being away from your support network is hard — from my wife and friends. It's a long time under a lot of pressure without that support network around you. Challenge-wise, an open brief cook like I had in the elimination cook was pretty hard. And to begin with, I struggled the most with the invention tests because of the pressure you're under to put up a good dish. You're trying to be creative, make it delicious and also not be in the bottom three at the same time. It's that balance of pushing yourself, doing something that's innovative and different, and also playing it safe enough that you don't do anything stupid and go home. That's a really difficult balance to get.
PS: Tell us one thing people would find surprising about being on the show — apart from getting so close to all the contestants!
Arum: For me, it was how true the show is to what happens. You imagine that because it's a TV show, there'll be all sorts of things behind the scenes — maybe you've got a recipe under your bench, get sent to cooking school, or somebody mentoring you off camera. There's none of that. What you see is what happens, and when time starts and you lift the lid on a mystery box and you panic, that's because you've lifted the lid and are panicking! It's very true to the show.
The other thing that you don't see is the fact that we get to interact with the judges outside of the official feedback. They are the nicest, most approachable people you could ever hope to meet and genuinely cared about us doing well. That came across through talking to them, so that was a really surprise.