Hayden Quinn may have left the MasterChef competition in an emotional elimination episode last night, but when it comes to his food career he’s just getting started. Following in the footsteps of other contestants who didn’t make it all the way, such as Marion Grasby and Poh Ling Yeow, the exposure Hayden received simply by being on the show has proven to be priceless. We spoke to the Northern Beaches lifeguard about post-MasterChef life and plans, travelling, and his top highlight from the show.
How has life on the outside been treating you so far?
It’s been good! I’ve only been out about 2-3 weeks so it’s been a case of hitting the ground running. I’ve been working on my website, had meetings with lots of people regarding management and the TV stuff, talking about all the different possibilities, and then there’s the publicity that comes along with all this. I’ve also been trying to recoup, catch up with family and friends, do a bit of exercise and go for a surf — all of those normal little things.
We’ve seen your new website, Twitter and Facebook page — how are you planning to use all this social media for your future endeavours?
In this day and age the social media is such a huge thing. I think it’s a case of keeping people connected and I’m hoping to be doing a lot of interesting, different things and be able to write about it in an interesting way, and share that with people through Twitter, frequent updates and images of what I’ve been up to. Hopefully when I start going travelling again, or spending some time in different restaurants, I can write about it and get people excited about food.
Keep reading for more from Hayden!
Have you had lots of people — and girls — coming up to you in public to say hi?
The response has been really positive and it’s good to see. It’s amazing, it’s not just girls, it’s everyone — the mums, the dads. I’ve had a lot of blokey blokes say, “Well done, mate, you’re doing really good.” I think I’m a normal bloke and they connect with that, which is cool. And then there’s the kids — I think the kids are the ones that recognise you the most and really want to go and say hello. It’s nice and cute and it’s great to see that they’re interested in what we’re doing.
Have you and Michael worked out how you’ll continue to catch up since you’re in Sydney and he’s in Adelaide?
He’s talked about coming to Sydney to do some work experience in restaurants. Adelaide’s got great food and wine regions, so there’s definitely the possibility of getting down there to try different produce from different areas of Australia. To have Michael as a local of the region would be a great excuse to hang out with him, to look at the food and what they’re doing down there in Adelaide.
What’s your reaction to seeing yourself on TV the way viewers have seen you?
I’ve watched a few of the episodes but usually I’ve got stuff on or I’m running in and out. It’s funny watching it because we’ve been there, and we’ve seen how the 14-hour day goes, so it’s nice to see how it’s all cut together and the polished finished product. Watching yourself on TV is a bit weird at first but you get used to it.
Do you have any travel plans in the near future?
Not at this stage. I’m trying to keep everything pretty local at the moment, and then I’ll start planning something. I love Central America — I’ve been there before and I wanna go back. And linked to that is South America — I’ve never been there before and it looks like such an exciting place.
Favourite place that you’ve travelled to?
I think it would be Honduras. You can get surf there but it’s more about the scuba diving, the atmosphere and the people — it’s super-chilled and perfect.
Did you get a chance to speak to Anthony Bourdain even though you didn’t get to spend the day with him?
Missing out on a day with Bourdain was hard! Me and Michael, that was our dream to spend that day with him. He was in our house and we got to chat with him, but he had a very busy schedule. He was a really lovely guy, and super-tall too! You don’t realise how tall he is. He’s a big man. He spoke about New York and how much he loves the food in Australia.
How soon did you hit the beach after returning home?
Pretty much straight away! The next day I was straight in for a surf. I was lucky — the wind was blowing offshore, the water was crystal clear, and just as I was paddling out there were some dolphins swimming around, so it was a pretty special time.
If you had to pick one highlight from the series, what would it be?
That’s tricky. A definite highlight would have to be that first day, winning the first challenge was something I couldn’t believe, like my simple dish that I loved so much, and that brought so many memories back for me, it touched the judges in a way that made them want to eat more and enjoy it, and go to this place that I told them about. That was a very special moment for me.
Photo courtesy of Network Ten