Masterchef

EXCLUSIVE: MasterChef's Ben Milbourne says he knew he was leaving just by looking at judge Andy Allen

''I knew I was in a bit of trouble.''

By Alex Lilly
Season four MasterChef favourite Ben Milbourne became the third person to be eliminated from MasterChef: Back To Win on Sunday night, and it's safe to say fans were devastated.
Twitter was flooded with sad and angry reactions, especially as he and judge Andy Allen share the ultimate MasterChef bromance.
But in an exclusive chat with Now To Love, Ben reveals there was a brief moment when he looked at his friend and knew that it was all over.
Now To Love: We're so sorry to see you go Ben, and it looks like people are devastated to see you go.
Ben: I was pretty devastated too to be honest. I think after it happened I spent the next two or three weeks replaying it over and over in my head and thinking 'What if I'd made a different decision and gone with the collars over the tails?' but that's the way it goes.
I kind of forgot about it until the show started, my little daughter got into it and absolutely loved it and I kept thinking in the back of my mind 'That elimination episode's coming up, she's going to see me get eliminated'. We actually didn't watch the episode, we ended up watching How To Train Your Dragon!
Ben's goodbye was an emotional one for the MasterChef crew. (Image: Network Ten)
You admitted that you made up some elements as you went along. Do you have any regrets looking back?
Absolutely. You think when you go back it's going to be different but I know from past experience that if you have a really strong idea of what your dish is before you start cooking and take 10 minutes at the beginning of the cook to figure out exactly what you want to do and break it down then you always end up with a better dish at the end. Making it up as you go along never works but you fall back into bad habits when you're back on the show.
You have no idea what the challenge is going to be and there are 22 people running around like headless chickens so you get caught up in that energy. It takes a really smart, confident person to think 'No I'm going to stop, I'm not going to run off like everyone else does and I'm going to think my way through this'. If I had my time again that's the advice I would give myself.
You and judge Andy Allen go way back and have a rather cute friendship. You knew he wouldn't go easy on you because of that but what was it like having a friend critique your cooking?
Up until that point it was great because all the dishes I'd put up had good feedback from him. But in that final 10 minutes of the episode where Rose and I were standing there waiting to hear what the decision was Andy couldn't look me in the eye so I knew I was in a bit of trouble. When one of your best mates can't look you in the eye, it's never going to end well for you.
But you still have the friendship of course.
Oh yeah, nothing's ever going to break that friendship! I'm extremely proud of everything he's been able to achieve and I feel really bad for having to put him in that position because I know how tough it would be if it was reversed.
We had a chat after the elimination where we talked for about an hour on the phone and one of the things I felt bad about was I never wanted to put him in a position where he had to eliminate me because I just wanted to cook good food. But you make mistakes, move on from them and hopefully move on to bigger and better things.
WATCH BELOW: MasterChef's Ben Milbourne and Andy Allen's bromance. Post continues after video...
You said that one of the reasons you came back for a second shot was to give something back to the show but when you were originally approached you almost didn't. Why was that?
I'd been travelling so much all over the place since season four finished so I thought it was a bit selfish to go back to MasterChef which is so intense and so much time away from the family when I'd already spent so much time away from them. But they sat down with me and told me that they wanted me to go for it and that they'd take care of everything at home so I could live my dream again. That was really nice of them and that's what made me change my mind.
I had a chat with Andy as well and he said the same thing - he said: 'You can't miss that once in a lifetime opportunity again.'
Ben and judge Andy Allen are best mates. (Image: Instagram @ben_milbourne)
It sounds like your daughter's following in your footsteps with cooking as well.
She loves it and loves cooking and being in the kitchen. If there's any silver lining to the whole COVID thing it's been that I've been able to be at home for the longest period of consecutive time since the kids have been born. We've been able to cook, have breakfast and go for family bike rides and walks together - I'm sure that once COVID all settles down and life gets back to normal, my kids will ask me if we can have COVID again so we can spend time together.
It forces you to stop and slow down a bit. You do have to change your mental outlook on things and come to terms with the fact that spending some time doing nothing with the family is a good thing.
Ben was originally hesitant to go back to MasterChef HQ because of his family. (Image: Instagram @ben_milbourne)
Poh and Reynold have come out as front-runners to win this year, but who would you love to see take the title?
I think Callum is probably one of the coolest people under pressure. Poh is not very good under pressure at all - she's all over the place which is one of the most endearing things about her personality and that's why she's so much fun to be around - she's just like a little rollercoaster.
I think Callum's got a really strong chance because of that reason but also because I think Callum's a great teacher of food and I think to be able to teach food you have to be able to understand it really well. His understanding and knowledge of food and cuisines from everywhere will stand him in really good stead going into the upcoming challenges.
I think that if you're someone who just does desserts really well or South East Asian flavours really well, if you come up against a challenge that isn't in your wheelhouse that can have you undone but Callum's got a really good understanding of lots of different modern Australian cuisines so he's my favourite to take it out.
Callum is Ben's pick to take the win for 2020. (Image: Network Ten)

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