Masterchef

MasterChef Australia's Reece Hignell on elimination, working with Julie Goodwin and opening his own place

'I was completely unprepared'

Reece Hignell was sent home from MasterChef Australia overnight, in an elimination round that saw him compete against fellow remaining contestants Chloe, Jess, Ben, Khan. Sashi did not compete.

The contestants faced three rounds, which saw them guessing ingredients in different ways, before Jess and Reece were left to battle it out in a 60 minute cook-off.

Reece, 28, opted to make an ambitious dish with the ingredients before him, attempting to create a pan-roasted chicken breast with caramelised onion puree, charred onions, crispy potatoes and chicken jus.

Though the judges liked the flavor of the dish, the oiliness and lack of texture saw him eliminated after Jess delivered a near-perfect orange and ginger ice-cream alongside quince and pear granita, dehydrated pears and crispy potato.

"It was so amazing, because it's a very difficult competition. It's purely reliant on talent so to make it that far I'm just so proud of myself and really happy with what I've done," says Reece, of making it to the top six.

The aspiring chef admits he was "completely unprepared" for the emotional toll of cooking in an elimination round.

"That whole cook is one big mush of memory," he tells TV WEEK.

"I think a few things probably didn't go the way I would normally cook in that round. I hadn't been in the elimination for so long, I wasn't thinking clearly. I just wasn't ready."

Since leaving MasterChef, Reece has been gaining work experience at the hand of season one winner Julie Goodwin.

"It's been so much fun, she is just a ball of laughs," he reveals. "I can't get over it. It's such a good time.

"Hopefully Julie and I can do more in the future. We have some things we're in the process of planning at the moment, so it's not the end of Reece and Julie! There will be more to come! I'm really grateful for the show, because Julie was in my first episode and that's a connection I've been able to maintain from day one."

Reece is proud to have made it so close to the finale.

Next up, the recruitment consultant from Newcastle hopes to open his own restaurant in his home-town, though he's beginning with a pop-up in the city later his year.

"I'm going to do a pop-up in Newcastle in September. I'm really excited about it, it's going to be a mix of savoury and sweet, with the typical Reece touches! Some flavours you might not be used to, but that surprisingly work together," he says.

After his pop-up, Reece hopes to work toward opening his own permanent place in Newcastle.

"I would love to have a little patisserie, a little brunch place, where I can make some really nice cakes and desserts and have some nice brunch ideas. So people can stop by, get a cake, a coffee, something to eat and just enjoy my food."

Reece and his partner, Dean, in the MasterChef kitchen.

As for who he thinks will take out the title of MasterChef this season, Reece has two options.

"I think someone who I worked with, studying and practising with closely in the house, was Sashi," he reveals.

"We taught each other so much, I always so keen to help him learn some dessert techniques and he was constantly helping me with curries and learning different techniques here and there. We kind of paid each other in knowledge, so I really respect his talent. I think he's my pick of winning."

Sashi is Reece's pick to win.

Reece would also love to see his close friend Jessica Liemantara win the cooking competition.

"If I had someone who I really wanted to win, it would be Jess, because we are so close. I would love to see her do well!" he says.

"Throughout the competition me and her became so close – inclusive with Brendan – the three of us were so close. I'd love to see Jess win, just from a proud friend perspective, but I do also think she has the talent to win."

Reece hopes his bestie Jess can win.

MasterChef Australia finals week begins this Sunday 22nd of July, at 7:30pm on Channel Ten.