Standing alongside Brent Draper in the finale, facing two epic rounds, Rhiannon surprised herself from the very beginning of the competition. Admitting that she didn’t even think she’d make it on the show, she found herself making it to the Top 10, then the Top 5, and finally making it all the way to the grand finale.
“I went in there to prove to my kids that anything’s possible. I didn’t actually expect to show them that anything’s possible,” Rhiannon told 10 Play with a big laugh.
“I feel very lucky to have experienced what I did and get as far as I did,” she added.
Making it to the Top 5, Rhiannon said a switch flicked inside her and her “really competitive side” started to come out.
“In reality, I’ve always been competitive but I’m so happy for my friends if they beat me,” she said. “I’m competitive with myself… but Top 5 was where I went, hang on a minute, I think I might do this if I fight really hard.”
Getting into the semi-finale, Rhiannon was able to design a three-course menu for a service challenge that showcased who she was as a chef, bringing in all the influences that she had drawn on throughout the competition so far.
“It’s nice to design a menu that reflects you, and it was nice to go, these are three courses I’d love to serve people. It was tough, it was SO tough, but I will never ever give in, so all I thought throughout the whole cook was ‘Don’t stop, keep moving and you’ll get it done’.
Always highlighting tropical flavours, South East Asian dishes, and a hearty pinch of spice in every bite, Rhiannon said her mum was always 100 percent her inspiration in the kitchen, but would always “bring in” her loved ones to the challenges.
“If I did bring a particular family member into the kitchen, I’d watch the episode with them. They just loved it,” she said. “Even my dad, he’s in the UK, he’d get on the phone and talk about it. It’s been really nice, they’d all message me and say, ‘It’s really nice you brought your mum in today.’”
While she was always cooking for her family, it was a very different experience in the finale when they were quite literally close to her — standing on the gantry and watching her compete.
“I’m not going to lie, I wrote myself off as Top 3,” she laughed. “Declan and Brent are amazing and I thought, I get to experience the service challenge, and that’s it!”
“It was really emotional, I hadn’t seen them for so long but I thought… you know what, throughout the season, whenever I had an emotional cook, whether it be about mum or whatever, my cooks were generally really good. So I was just really trying to draw on that.”
But when guest chef Amaury Guichon walked through the doors to set the final pressure test, Rhiannon nearly fell over.
“I said I reckon this is going to be the hardest pressure test they’ve ever set because he’s just a whole other level! We had been watching all his videos throughout the season,” she said. “When he lifted [the cloche] to show what we were doing I just went, oh my god… I’m screwed!”
Having to recreate Amaury’s pocket-watch dessert, Rhiannon and Brent had their work cut out for them as the world-famous pastry chef didn’t go easy on the pair. Despite a few hiccups, Rhiannon was still able to get a finished version of the dish plated up.
“I was so bloody proud of myself to have finished,” she said, “there were points in that cook where I didn’t even think I’d finish. You’d be down and out and low, but then my competitive nature goes… you can’t not finish! Just get in and get it done.
“It was definitely a tough cook, but it was good to get it done. I was very proud of myself.”
Narrowly missing out on the win, Rhiannon said her entire MasterChef experience had just reaffirmed her desire to dive further into the culinary world.
“All [MasterChef] did was spark how much I love food, the amount I learned from Jock was absolutely priceless,” she said.
“I went in there thinking I’d love to have a restaurant one day but I’ve walked out very differently,” Rhiannon admitted.
“I’d love to travel around Australia, promote local produce, promote local farmers, do it in a TV show and then maybe come back to Townsville, regroup, and maybe do a restaurant...
“I just want to get out there and learn!”