POPSUGAR Australia: Sorry to see you've left MasterChef! Did you expect to go?
Arum: Once I got over the initial disappointment, I've got to be happy with the fact that I've reached fifth. I would've bitten somebody's arm off if you told me I would've come fifth in the beginning! You're obviously disappointed in the moment, but I moved on pretty quickly. It's exciting as well, you've learnt all this stuff over the course of the series, you've made contacts, you've got new friends, and now you get to go out and put it into practice, which is really exciting!
PS: Tell us about how you found that last cook and the surprise elimination.
Arum: Yeah, it really did blindside me a bit. So much of cooking in MasterChef is a mental game, especially by this end of the competition. You've been going for quite a while recording all the episodes, and by this stage, it gets quite tough mentally. That's why I have the utmost respect for whoever goes all the way — if you can stick at it that long and keep putting up good dishes, that's what it takes to win. So when they throw a curveball like that and you haven't had a chance to mentally prepare for elimination, it does throw you a bit. The other thing that threw me was that it was an open brief — you could cook anything. I really enjoyed mystery boxes because you've got seven or eight ingredients, and you're restricted in what you can do, but it actually makes you more creative. I was a bit of a rabbit in the headlights I think, when I was told I could cook anything.
PS: So had you known it was an elimination, do you think you would've fared better?
Arum: I think when you know you're in elimination, you prepare mentally for it. I always went into every elimination — and I was in a few — with a really positive mindset, because if it was going to be my last cook in the kitchen, I was damn well going to enjoy it. So every time I went into an elimination, I made peace with the fact that if I went home, I went home, and that was OK. I just went in to do my best, enjoy cooking and hope for the best. Obviously we didn't have a chance to prepare for this one, so we just had to get on with it.