A super-tricky elimination challenge that involved taste-testing a pork terrine, identifying ingredients and only being able to cook with what was correctly picked is what sent Kumar Pereira home from the MasterChef competition. We chatted to the design teacher about his experience on the show and why his age won’t stop him from the next challenges in his life!
What was going through your mind during that last challenge?
I was in utter panic mode. I was in complete turmoil, probably because it was a very difficult challenge and being blindfolded really threw me. But once I identified those things I was quite happy — I think the less things you have to cook with the better it is. I was pleased with what I put up — I don’t think I presented it well enough, that was the only regret I had. It was fun. I enjoyed it!
What are your thoughts on all the changes and twists in this series of MasterChef?
It was difficult in the sense that you didn’t know what to expect. Even when we thought we’d nailed it there was always a surprise twist. But it also kept us on our toes, which is good in a way. It made us come up with ideas instantly — you just had to be on the ball, had to have your wits about you and be ready to cook anything at any time. It was hard but it made us more aware of things that we had to do.
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What were your favourite and least favourite challenges during the competition?
I don’t think I had a least favourite. All of the outdoor challenges were fantastic, from cooking in the mines, to the beach, vineyards, the farm — really good experiences, again because the different conditions we had to cook under kept changing. I can’t think of anything that I really disliked. If there was one it would be the tinned and frozen [challenge] because you normally don’t think that way and it was difficult to get your head around. And probably again because of the twist, it was altering your mindset — we were told that the pantry was full of lovely stuff but it wasn’t the kind of fresh stuff we were expecting!
Do you have a favourite dish that you cooked?
I liked everything, [but] what I did in the top 50 to get into top 24, the curried prawns, because of the way it was presented, and it was something I have done. But all of the other things were spur-of-the-moment decisions. I can’t really pick one thing, but maybe it was the Korean challenge — I did a Korean tasting plate, which I really loved, and I also like the ones I did for the very last lunch at the legal firm.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned heaps [laughs]. I realised how resilient I am, how I could cope under difficult conditions. It wasn’t anything new, but I realised I could still manage to do things, and I think I surprised myself lots of times. It was a really good experience.
The other contestants all looked really upset when you didn’t walk through the elevator doors. Who were you closest to in the house?
I got on really well [with everyone]. I don’t think we felt an age difference even though I was the oldest and there were people much, much younger, but it was never apparent. I was on equal terms with everyone and I think I’m a pretty easy going person. I got on with all, and that was nice!
You’ve probably heard by now of the Facebook fan pages created for you. How does it feel to know that so many people were supporting you?
I had absolutely no idea I had such a big following. I find it really overwhelming — the reaction is hard to get used to.
Are you getting recognised on the street with people coming up to you?
Yep, it does, all the time, and I find it’s something I have to learn to cope with. I’m not used to it and find it a little bit difficult. We were warned about this but I never expected it to be as it has been.
What do your wife and kids think about you pursuing your food dream now?
They love it. They know that I enjoy cooking and they think I’ve done an amazing job, and I’ve got all their support. I think they are regretting that I didn’t go up any further — I don’t really mind because I think I got a lot out of it and I would’ve been happy leaving it at any time. They just wish I’d gone on even further! [laughs]
Do you have any reservations about changing the direction of your life at 62?
Not at all! I don’t think of myself as 62. I think I’ve got a very different attitude to life and this is proof to me that you can do anything at any time. Age is a state of mind, and I’ve got a very active mind. I hope I can still continue — I’m still fit, healthy and I’ve got loads of energy — so I’m prepared to go even further.
We love the look of your illustrated cookbook — how’s that coming along?
It’s coming along really well. On the show it’s one thing that kept me sane. I kept coming back [to it] every day and I kept a journal — every dish I cooked, I illustrated. It spurred me on to do even more, compiling even more recipes, and I hope it’ll get published and that it’ll be the start of something new again!
Your fans want to know if you’ll set up a page or website so they can keep up with what you do post-MasterChef?
I’d never thought about that, but now I guess I’ll have to think about that! [laughs] I obviously haven’t taken it any further, I haven’t had time to sit back and think, but it’s something I’ll have to consider and yes, maybe I will do!
Who do you think will win MasterChef, and who do you want to win?
To combine the two, I would be really happy for anyone who’s now in there to win this because I’ve worked with them, I’ve lived with them, and they’re all wonderful people. I’ll be really happy with whoever wins it and I find it really difficult to predict, because each challenge is so different and has so many surprises, and people have different strengths. I know that whoever wins it I’ll be happy with because I’ve experienced and shared some time of their lives. It’s been lovely.
Photos courtesy of Network Ten