Joined by world-renowned celebrity chef Rick Stein, the MasterChef judges tasked the 11 chefs to cook their best ‘postcard’ dish, a dish so delicious it could transport Rick and the judges to a certain place in the world.
For Michael, things didn’t go his way, despite attempting to redeem himself from the service challenge earlier in the week.
“It was probably more stressful this time around because I knew what I was doing,” Michael told 10 play following his elimination. “Last time was a stab in the dark, it worked out. This time I know a bit more about what I’m doing, so that was me putting pressure on myself, to be honest.”
Since placing second in Season 3, Michael went on to host several cooking shows and also is a Coles ambassador and Senior Development Chef. Coming back to MasterChef, he wasn’t too worried about how he did in the competition affecting his real-world commitments, but he was ready to finally hold that trophy above his head which he was so close to all those years ago.
“I could come last and nothing’s changed for me work-wise,” Michael said, “and thankfully it didn’t. Not going to lie, I wish I had lasted a lot longer but that’s how competitions work, unfortunately, and when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. I think my number was up.”
As soon as he left the MasterChef kitchen, Michael was back at Coles the next day doing development work and already starting pre-production for another season of Farm To Fork.
“I mean, what a blessing! I think my girlfriend's a bit over it,” he added, laughing.
“It definitely reinvigorated my passion for food, and that’s one great thing MasterChef does. It’s brutal, it’s exhausting and hard work… so afterwards you kinda think you want a break from food but I'm still going to new restaurants, cooking every day, still loving food and can’t wait for new food adventures.
“Maybe it’s the passion of all the Fans coming on board and being so excited about it that you can’t help but get a bit excited with them having so much energy,” he said.
This year, having half returning contestants and half new chefs, Michael said the vibe in the kitchen was completely different to his first season.
“We could give a lot of guidance and mentorship, I enjoyed that part of it, taking some of the Fans under our wings, helping them with what will happen while it’s filming, but also what to expect after.
“I didn’t have that after Season 3, I had to make up my career post-MasterChef, which was really fun, but it’s also a lot of help to have someone who knows what’s going on,” he said.
“We were in teams on the floor, but as soon as we left [the kitchen] I spent my evenings and afternoons and spare time hanging out with a mix of fans and favourites and it was just an awesome little mix.”
For many Faves, returning to the MasterChef kitchen was an intimidating offer but for Michael, after two years of lockdowns, he was more than ready to sink his teeth into a new adventure. Having some overseas commitments, Michael had turned down the opportunity to return for Back To Win, but when those opportunities fell through due to COVID, there was a sense of regret.
“Watching how much fun those guys had and chatting to them, I couldn’t say no a second time,” he added.
“Every day there was something I could take away going, ‘That was amazing!’ So many pinch yourself moments where you get to cook for amazing people,” he said.
“It’s a very special thing that MasterChef gives its contestants.”
Despite only just returning to the real world, Michael admitted he was ready to go back for another shot at the title “tomorrow”.
“I don’t even care about the money, it’s that name on the trophy… I want to win it so bad,” he added, laughing.
“I think getting so close in Season 3, I’ve got that taste for it and, this year, I didn’t hide it. I definitely wanted to come back to win this year - I would do it again tomorrow, it’s just so much fun.”
MasterChef Australia Fans & Favourites airs Sunday - Thursday at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play on demand