‘I Knew My Journey Was Done’: Harry Tomlinson Eliminated During Marco Pierre White Challenge

Cooking for one of her culinary icons, Harry knew there was one thing she wanted to do: “Not stuff up in front of him.”

Revealing a selection of Marco Pierre White’s pantry favourites, chefs had to use more than one of the ingredients the world-renowned chef had selected. With an array of ingredients from vinegar to red currant jelly, anchovies to cornichons, the chefs could cook whatever they liked so long as they celebrated Marco’s pantry staples.

“It was just such a crazy whirlwind having him there… having one of your culinary heroes stand in front of you basically takes your knees out,” Harry told 10 play following her elimination.

“You get really caught up in that moment and it was a real game-changer for me in terms of how I felt about myself in the kitchen,” she added.

“I think I had been struggling for a few weeks to find my balance again and, when we had Marco week, it really solidified what I wanted to do for myself within food, but I just wanted to not stuff up in front of him basically.”

Early in the competition, Harry emerged as one to watch, coming into the MasterChef kitchen with a clear point of view and approach to food, she’d transform ordinary ingredients and simple veggies that everyone had at home into five-star dishes.

“I think it comes from a love of eating, to be honest,” she said, laughing. “I really loved to eat so I just wanted to bake stuff that tasted really good. When you’re a kid, that starts off like cramming 100 Mars Bars into a block of cookie dough.

“As you get older, it progresses into making a curry just out of carrots, or using kale in 3,000 different ways and finding what makes it taste really good.”

Despite impressing the judges and her fellow chefs early in the competition, Harry admitted that her successes only made her more terrified in the first few weeks.

“To have three cracking dishes straight off the bat… I think everyone thought it would make me feel super confident in myself, but it actually did the opposite. I knew there was no way I could stay at the top of the pack the whole time, and that the only way was down, it was really scary.

“It was really hard to navigate the pressure I had put on myself, and then also the pressure that was then coming from the competition of being seen as somebody to beat because that’s never happened in my life ever, ever, ever.”

During what would be her final challenge, Harry said she had fallen into a trap of trying to cook food that she thought was more classical and pared-back, moving away from the dishes that were a bit more “out there”, that celebrated the everyday ingredients she would more often reach for.

“I think that’s the only thing I regret about that cook, choosing to do something that was maybe not authentically my own,” Harry said.

After the judges tasted her whole baked flounder with herb butter sauce and a side salad, they questioned her decision to pick flounder rather than a more flavoursome fish.

“I knew, in that moment, that my journey was done which was lovely because it killed the suspense of the verdict, but it was also really sad.”

Watching everyone else’s dish get tasted and silently praying someone had forgotten to add salt or made some other unforgivable error.

“It was kind of a blessing and a curse the nit came to tasting, that everybody else had perfect dishes that day because it meant that I knew… that was the last time I was going to be there, I knew flat out that it was it and done.”

Looking back, Harry still said she didn’t regret her instincts on the day.

“I think my head was in the right place, going in and doing something simple, but at the same time the best food that I cook is not simple,” she said. “There are a thousand other things I could have cooked that day that I can almost guarantee would have kept me safe.

“I think I just tried to be - to be blatantly honest - too big for my boots and do something that was very classical and pared-back, which takes even more knowledge than doing something really crazy and full-on.”

Applying for the show on a whim, Harry said she was at a point where she felt like she needed “a bit of a circuit breaker”, thinking there was no chance she’d actually make it onto the show. When she got the call saying she had made it her response was pure shock, “A bit like, oh no… what have I done”.

“As soon as I got there I realised how special of an opportunity it was and how privileged I was to be standing there with all of these people that had been working so hard all of their lives to cook the best food that they can.”

Leaving the MasterChef kitchen, the one thing Harry wished she could have returned to was that authentic style of cooking that resonates with her, the kind of dishes she was serving the judges earlier in the competition.

“It’s this weird phenomenon that happens in the MasterChef kitchen, that you don’t really realise what you’re capable of until you leave,” she explained.

“If I had my time over, I think I definitely would have worked harder to get back to that point of just walking in there and being like, I like this and that means you’ll probably like this! Instead of being like, ‘Andy might like a coffee toasted sandwich! That sounds like a great idea!’ Bloody terrible Idea!”

When she first walked through the doors of the MasterChef kitchen, Harry said she remembers shrugging off the idea of one day becoming a chef, spending her days standing in a kitchen. But through her experiences in the competition, especially cooking for the likes of Clare Smyth and Marco Pierre White, all of that has changed completely.

“If I want to earn my stripes in the food world in the way that I had always dreamed of, that is going to involve me doing some hardcore learning, getting my head into a kitchen and understanding the real world of a chef,” Harry said.

“Being a chef is not only about your food, it’s about how you run a kitchen and I have a lot of respect for that, as someone who has been in the hospitality world for such a long time… I’m excited to get in there and do that.

“And I guess on the side, just cooking my own stuff, sharing that with people on social media. People have been super, super responsive to it and really onboard with my recipes and how I cook, so I want to make sure I keep engaging with that world as well because it’s awesome.”

MasterChef Australia Fans & Favourites airs Sunday - Thursday at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play on demand