On Sunday night, four of our Top 5 went head-to-head in duals, with each pair given a key ingredient to highlight. The two most impressive dishes were granted safety while the remaining two chefs would have to face each other in a final round cook-off.
For Cath, round one was oddly familiar as the judges revealed she and Theo would be featuring Dijon mustard.
“I was really taken aback by this challenge because I did an amazing dish before and I had such a great memory of it,” Cath told 10 Play. “I was a little bit rattled by that, actually, I thought I can’t do that again, can I?”
Earlier in the season, Cath was also given Dijon mustard as a secret ingredient to feature in a dish. In a competition highlight, Cath had started on an ice cream base before the ingredient was revealed.
“To decide to do ice cream, follow through on that and put up that dish in that amount of time,” she said proudly, “I’ve actually remade that dish for some friends and it took me so much longer than it did in the MasterChef kitchen!
“Admittedly I did have a glass of wine in my hand and I was chatting, but I cannot believe what I actually did,” she said, laughing.
But this full-circle moment saw Cath go in a different direction and pushed herself to do an elegant fish dish. While the judges celebrated how far Cath had come in the competition, noting her elegant plating and finesse, the flavours just didn’t come together to highlight the Dijon and Cath found herself in the bottom two alongside Brent.
This time, the duo were tasked with bringing the judges their “best dish of the competition so far”, and Cath immediately knew what she wanted to do.
“I’ve been cooking for so long and the filing cabinet in my brain is so large, to filter through that and actually choose a dish was sometimes a bit tricky but, really, with this one straight away I had an idea,” she explained.
“I had my daughters on my mind throughout the dish. I remembered this concept and talking to Alexandra about it… it was very, very personal and a really special dish. I think that’s why, in the end, I was just devastated.
“But I was extremely proud of myself throughout the whole competition,” Cath continued, “even proud of myself just to take that step to apply for MasterChef, and then to get on the show, to keep going, then to go to Top 5… it was overwhelming and joyous.
“Joy and gratitude, those are the two words honestly.”
Tackling a dish she had never made before with multiple elements highlighting native ingredients including a parfait, shortbread and dippin’ dots ice cream, a few minor mistakes saw the dish begin to melt before it even made it to the judging table.
Clearly emotional by the end of the cook, a tearful Cath still described the challenge as awesome adding it was, “full of Cath, full of love for my daughters today… that’s love on a plate”.
With the dish clearly meaning so much to her, Cath said the surge of emotions was partly due to the fact that she had a “real sinking feeling” her time in the competition had come to an end, but also partly because it was such a personal plate of food.
“Of course exiting the competition, but also being so personal, I just felt devastated, defeated perhaps. Having that desire to get into finals week and just knowing it wasn’t going to be. That was devastating.”
Obviously proud of everything she was able to achieve in the kitchen, Cath admitted that it stung to be eliminated so close to the semi-finals.
“I was really working towards that and I was very excited about it. It was bittersweet but, you know what? On any given day it’s so close to [the finale], it’s those little things and it was just my day to go home,” she said. “That was it.”
Throughout the competition, Cath spoke about how seeing Julie Goodwin return to MasterChef last year had inspired her to apply for the series herself.
“Just putting herself out there, showing her vulnerable side, that’s exactly what I did, and seeing Julie do that made it comfortable for me to be myself and just enjoy the vibe,” Cath explained.
“I don’t think I could have ever expected what could have happened, it was just a dream really.”
And while the pressures of the kitchen would send any pro chef into a spin, each challenge saw Cath put her hand on her own shoulder and deliver a few words of encouragement to herself. Something she wasn’t even really aware of until she started watching the show herself.
“Looking back at it now there was just no filter, I’m quite surprised and I’d say to my husband and daughters, can you rewind that?! It really highlighted that I’ve done that throughout my life,” she said.
“Even thinking now… whether I go for a run or a walk in the morning, I come home and do some stretches, I put my hand on my shoulder and say, ‘Thanks, have a good day Cath’. It’s something I’ve just naturally been doing.”
Seeing her be her own biggest supporter, many fans have reached out to say what an inspiration Cath’s kindness to herself has been.
“And that’s probably been one of the most joyful things, I’ve been getting a lot of messages like that. People who perhaps have had a bit of a hard trot and it’s highlighted how you do have to look after yourself,” she added.
“That is so humbling… that’s been one of the most joyful things, that I’ve inspired people to look after themselves a bit more.”
Coming into the competition, Cath had dreamed of opening up her own little cafe that would serve one of her favourites, “I love high tea… I love tasting all the little bits of food and I hate missing out,” she laughed, adding, “I love that sort of idea of having lots of beautiful morsels of food.”
Now thinking about pop-ups, or teaming up with venues, Cath is also focusing on writing a cookbook she called, “Cath’s Kitchen: from how to wow”.
“That concept has been from the start of the airing of the show, that’s a lot of work and it’s nice to have that to focus on as well whilst I get a good idea of where I go from here!”