Fans of MasterChef Australia will struggle to find a contestant as imaginative as Callan. Never one to be afraid of breaking tradition, he's become known for pushing the boundaries with ingredients and making food a true sensory experience. The real shocker? He's only 18 (what were you doing at that age?). His run on the show may have come to an end, but seeing as he's already cooking like this at his age, it's only uphill from here for him. As Gary said, Callan Smith, remember the name.
POPSUGAR Australia: Sorry to see that you've left! Did you watch the episode back?
Callan: That's OK! Yeah, it was pretty good and just like I remembered. It was nice to see.
PS: Tell us about Japan. Did you get to do much exploring?
Callan: Incredible. It's an amazing country. After we finished filming, we'd pop down somewhere for dinner and stuff like that. We got out a little bit to have a look. Mt. Fuji was my favourite part — it was incredible. Japan is amazing in that as one of the busiest places in the world, it is also so quiet. And so clean!
PS: I was there a few years ago and still dream about the ramen I ate there.
Callan: Yeah, it's hard to get a bad meal in Japan! You have to really try to get something bad [laughs].
PS: That sushi dessert was a huge gamble — had you made that before?
Callan: No, I've never made anything like that before. It was something I thought up in Japan, I thought, "How can I reinvent the sushi roll?" I thought about a couple of ways to do it with savoury ingredients, but it was still too safe. I wanted to take it one step further, and decided to turn it into a dessert.
PS: Did you ever doubt what you were doing?
Callan: Never for a second. I think that's one thing I learnt throughout the season: never think, "Is this right?" Yes, it might come tumbling down, but you've got to give it a try. You've got to be in it to win it.
Callan: [Laughs] I knew I had to pull out some big guns to try and stay in the competition against those two. Sarah is amazing cook and was wearing an immunity pin on her apron. Tamara got out and got back in, so that just shows you how good of a cook she is.
PS: You were in a few elimination challenges over the last few weeks. Were you used to the demands by then?
Callan: No, I don't think they get easier, I think the only thing you pick up is how to hold back the tears. [Laughs] They just get harder and harder.
PS: Yeah, I spoke to Sam a few weeks back and he said if you had left, he would've been in tears and vice versa.
Callan: I was! We were like brothers with our banter and all that jazz. It was nice to have someone like that in the house.
PS: What was the most important lesson or skill you took away from the competition?
Callan: There's so many. If I were to name one, it would be to believe in yourself. Give it a try, you've got to experience the downs to appreciate the ups, and I think that's what the competition's about.
PS: What were some highlights from the competition for you?
Callan: Again, there are so many! MasterChef provides you with experiences that you just don't get anywhere else. You can't decide that you're going to fly to Japan tomorrow and just start cooking in front of Mt. Fuji, so it just provides you with experiences that are absolutely amazing. I think one of the memories that will stay with me forever is answering the door to Heston. It's not everyday he rocks up at your front doorstep. PS: Yes! Your reaction was the best. Did it take a while for that to sink in?
Callan: [Laughs] Yeah, it was a couple of hours of fan-girling and thinking it wasn't real. PS: What's he like in person?
Callan: His mind has got so many things going on. You get a sense of how busy . . . His mind never stops — it's always thinking, it's always reimagining things, and that's what so amazing about him.
PS: Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
Callan: No, never! If anything, maybe toast that rice for a little bit longer, but it was all pretty good.
PS: Gary said that no one is going to forget the name Callan Smith. What do you hope to be recognised for in the food industry?
Callan: Most of all, taking risks. Life's too short to play it safe, you need to take a risk, reinvent, reimagine and just have fun.
PS: Tell us a bit about what you're up to now?
Callan: I've got two pop-up restaurants in the works. One's in October this year, which is a back-to-school themed pop-up. Next year is the big one — the musical pop-up. It's a musical and I've picked particular songs from the musical, decoded them and created dishes that reflect the themes and ideas in that song. It will be a full musical, and as those songs are played out, the dishes will be served. It'll be at The Red Box in Lilyfield.
I've also started working at Longrain in Sydney, just to get a feel of the floor and understand how a business works in terms of procedures and stuff, that hopefully I can take with me!