'I Wasn't Trying To Do My Best, I Was Trying To Be Perfect': Harry Butterfield Eliminated In Josh Niland Pressure Test

Faced with his food hero, in a challenge designed for his talents, Harry's biggest fight was with his own mind.

Battling it out for a spot in the Top 3 for 2024, Harry couldn't have been more elated when one of his food heroes walked through the doors. Setting the penultimate pressure test for the season, the internationally renowned and award-winning Josh Niland has long-inspired seafood lover Harry.

"I've been to Josh's restaurants, I've got his books, I've been a massive fan of not just his cooking but what he's done for seafood and making people open their eyes and see what the potential is," Harry told 10 Play.

After the pressure test set by Guillaume Brahimi, Harry assumed Josh wouldn't be appearing this season, having already had a seafood-centric pressure test so close to the end of the competition.

"When I found out I was surprised, shocked, excited, nervous. A lot of different emotions," he added.  "I had to take a step back and double-check that this was real life, there were a few moments like that. I’ve gone from working in an office to standing in a room about to get a masterclass from Josh Niland."

But it wasn't all a dream come true, with Harry standing alongside Nat and Pezza as Josh revealed his Flounder Kandinsky.  Containing five different sauces -- macadamia tahini purée, preserved lemon yogurt, zucchini and basil purée, squash purée, and harissa -- the dish also featured a rack of grilled yellow belly flounder, the belly folded with a scallop mousseline, and a zucchini.

"The cook itself, it was technical, extremely difficult. The time pressure was insane, but I put a lot of pressure on myself," Harry continued.

"I was the self-proclaimed fish guy, and I brought that pressure upon myself. I wanted to prove to myself, and to Josh, that I am skilled with seafood... I guess the pressure of cooking for your food hero, and the pressure of it being a fish dish when I'm 'the seafood guy', the pressure was intense.

"With other pressure tests... I went into it thinking this is it, I just have to try my best and that's it. In this one, I wasn't trying to do my best, I was trying to be perfect."

During the challenge, Harry worked meticulously to make sure every element of the dish was perfectly executed. But he quickly began to fall behind and, in an effort to catch up and multi-task, missed vital steps or misinterpreted instructions.

"The irony is definitely not lost on me," he laughed, "I cooked perfect seafood dishes for 40-something challenges and the one that really counted was the one that I messed up.

"It is what it is," Harry continued, "throughout the whole competition all I wanted to do was try my hardest and, although I came up short in this one, I still gave it everything I had."

Admitting that the "mental game" got the better of him, it was still a life-changing moment for him, being able to stand in front of a chef who inspired him so much.

"Josh has learned his respect and love of seafood through being a chef and I've learned my love and respect for seafood by trying to catch it myself," Harry added.

"He's taught me, in this challenge, a lot about cheffing and hopefully one day I can repay the favour and take him out for a fish."

While it's not uncommon for chefs in the competition to have a niche or cuisine they specialise in, for Harry seafood isn't just what he loves to cook.

"People ask if I like being labelled as 'the fish guy' or if there's pressure being the fish guy but, genuinely, it's not a label. It's who I am," he explained. "I go out multiple times a week fishing and preparing my own food. Every bit of seafood we eat in the house is something I've caught and, I guess it wasn't so much about proving it to anyone else, it was almost just proving it to myself."

Throughout the competition, Harry wowed the judges and fellow contestants with his handling of fish. A skill he picked up over the years fishing with his dad and his pop, fostering an inquisitiveness and desire to learn best practices to get the best results from what they catch.

"I've always been fascinated and into the different styles and techniques that are behind filleting, looking after your fish and preparing it so that it's the best quality you can get," he said.

"Whenever we'd go out, if we got a bucket of whiting, Dad would put me to work with a knife on the deck. Each time I might take a bit of the tail off or leave a bit of meat behind and each time I'd just want to do better and better," he said.

While cooking has always been a big part of his life, it wasn't until he started catching his own ingredients that really taught Harry respect for what was going on the plate and encouraged a passion for sustainability, a lifestyle he hopes to share with people now he's on the other side of the competition.

"I do live a really, really cool and unique life up here in Queensland and I really want to share that with everyone," Harry said. "I want to make content that will inspire people to get outdoors, but also to start cooking.

"I want to inspire young blokes especially to get into the kitchen," he said, adding, "Cooking helped me find a partner and I think it can be the same for other blokes.

"Just to try and get people to think differently about seafood, to incorporate it into their weekly diets," he continued. "I think seafood is such a beautiful and underutilized protein that I'm passionate about, and I think it would be silly to waste this opportunity and this passion."

On top of creating content focusing on ocean-to-plate, featuring recipes and lifestyle tips on seafood how-tos, Harry's next steps are to begin private cheffing, running cooking classes, and he's already been working in a restaurant in Brisbane since he returned home.

"Obviously I want to be in kitchens too, I love that. The service challenges on MasterChef were where I was happiest and I think it's because it's the most accurate simulation of a real kitchen," he said. "So I want to be outdoors making content, cooking, I want to be in kitchens and, eventually, have my own restaurant.

"The ability and gift to now be able to possibly chase a dream and do something I'm actually passionate about and love, it has been life-changing in more ways than one so I'm really grateful for it."

MasterChef Australia continues Sunday - Tuesday at 7.30 on 10 and 10 Play