‘I Could Not Be Happier’: Pete Campbell Crowned MasterChef Australia 2021 Runner Up

With just a point between him and the 2021 MasterChef winner, Pete Campbell looks back on what he described as his “very, very bizarre” journey.

Speaking to 10 play following Tuesday night’s grand finale which saw Justin Narayan crowned MasterChef for 2021, Pete said his time in the competition was “the most difficult thing” that he’s ever done.

“I could not be happier. I definitely exceeded my expectations of how I would perform and what I learned about myself — as a cook but more so as a person, persevering through those challenges — and it’s definitely what I wanted to get out of it,” Pete said.

“To be able to pass on a good lesson or example and have advice for my daughters as they grow up… I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself, and I think that’s what I’m happiest with,” he added.

Despite constantly wowing the judges with his signature fine-dining flare and his knack for conceptual, artistic plating, Pete is surprised to hear himself described as a frontrunner in the competition.

“It’s certainly not how I felt at any stage of the competition,” he said, laughing. “I think I only really started to feel a little confident and comfortable around finals week!”

Heading into the third and final round of the grand finale, Pete was just slightly ahead of Justin and Kishwar, with just three points separating the first and last place. But Pete admitted that when facing a pressure test worth 80 points, he knew he was basically on a level playing field.

“It all came down to this last cook,” he said.

And while most contestants would cower at the mention of a Peter Gilmore pressure test, Pete said he was ready to embrace whatever was thrown his way.

“I kind of wanted it to be as difficult and ridiculous as possible! That’s how I felt comfortable in pressure tests, the more difficult the better,” Pete said.

“You’re able to move past the nerves stage and just get into auto-pilot mode. I knew that, given it was the finale, it was going to be a whole new level of pressure and it certainly delivered.”

Tasked with recreating not one but two of Peter’s dishes, Squid Noodles and Golden Crackle, the finalists had to juggle sweet and savoury flavours and keep track of multiple elements at once.

With Justin’s final score just inching Pete out from the win, the former tattoo artist said he still feels like a winner, with his experiences in the MasterChef kitchen opening new doors for him in the industry.

“As a result of meeting Peter Gilmore I’m very lucky that I’m going to be working at Quay,” Pete said. “I want to learn from the best, so I need to work at the best possible place, and that’s Quay. Peter Gilmore has been very kind to give me an opportunity there, so now it’s time to just work super hard and learn everything I can.

“I ate at Quay probably ten years ago and I just keep thinking back to that moment,” Pete continued. “If someone said you’re going to work here one day, it just seems like the most bizarre left turn my life could take.

“It’s all up to me now, how hard I work and what I make happen, but I 100 percent feel like this couldn’t be better.”

Follow Pete on Instagram @my.mate.pete

Catch up on Pete’s MasterChef Australia journey, every episode is available on demand on 10 play