“I Doubted Myself and I Now Don’t” — the Biggest Lesson Conor Learned from MasterChef Australia

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It didn’t take long for audiences to fall in love with Conor Curran — the 29-year-old restaurant manager from Victoria — on MasterChef Australia 2021.

Always beaming with positivity and a willingness to learn, Curran plated up dish after dish of scrumptious food, often inspired by his Greek background, that delighted and impressed the judges.

Curran, surprisingly, became the eighth person to be eliminated from the competition after falling short in the execution of his green olive ice cream. For the aspiring restaurant owner, however, it was nothing but a happy experience all around.

“I was so happy to get as far as I had gotten,” Curran told POPSUGAR Australia. “I don’t think people realise how new to cooking I was. And I didn’t think I was going to get into the top 24, so everything past that point was such a huge positive.

“And to get top dishes, I felt like my time was up and I had squeezed everything out. I honestly felt humbled.”

It will likely come as a surprise to anyone who watched MasterChef Australia 2021, but Curran’s exuberance belied a fair amount of self-doubt. Having been the proud owner of a little cooking set when he was a child, Curran revealed that he has always had a deep love of food and that some of his happiest childhood memories revolved around it — which made his professional move into restaurant management almost a no-brainer.

When asked what his biggest takeaway was from his time in the MasterChef kitchen, Curran responded, “I never thought I could ever cook very well. And so that was a really new thing for me. I just I guess I doubted myself and I now don’t and I think you saw that on my face last night, there’s a moment of me going ‘I deserve to be here and I am capable'”.

As for the green olive ice cream that sent him home, Curran told POPSUGAR Australia that he has since nailed the recipe, even getting the stamp of approval from fellow MasterChef contestant, and dessert king, Tom Levick with whom Curran has remained great mates.

“We call ourselves the ‘Three Muske-Queers’ meaning myself, Dan (Dumbrell) and Tom,” Curran said of his enduring friendships. “And those boys are my life. I credit them for keeping me sane and saying the right thing and all the banter and ribbing and so much love underneath.

“I couldn’t thank them enough and I get them for life. I would swap my top dishes for them, any day.”

Over the course of our chat, Curran expressed several times just how shocked he was to have made it so far in the competition — so much so that he packed light for his time filming the series.

When asked where he buys his fabulous array of earrings from — he wore a different one each day of the competition — Curran emitted his trademark raucous laughter before revealing that so convinced was he that he wouldn’t make the cut, he only took three with him.

“So each week I was having a panic attack thinking ‘I’m still bloody here, I have to get more!,'” he said.

“So I was running to Lovisa to get more so I wasn’t wearing the same earrings over and over. But now I’ve refined it and I try to choose one-offs from places like House of Dizzy and Foxx and Ginger.

In addition to plans to feature his favourite earrings on his Instagram each fortnight, Curran is working on a modern-day Greek cookbook and working towards launching his own sandwich shop called Sit Down Dora after his mum, with a hidden speakeasy named Shut Up Mike after his dad.

For Curran, one of the most rewarding elements to come from his MasterChef experience has been the endless waves of messages he has received from people thanking him for inspiring them with his positivity and larger than life personality.

“To get messages that I was positive, and I put a smile on their face, by doing nothing, but just being there, and my attitude, just kind of redefines that I’m quite happy with the person I’m becoming,” he said. “I’m not there yet, but I’m really happy that the response has been so lovely, and I’m on the right track.”

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