Khanh Ong was eliminated from MasterChef Australia in tonight's episode, which saw him compete against Ben Borsht and Sashi Cheliah in a top three elimination challenge.
The 25-year-old DJ from Melbourne was thrilled to make it to the semi-final, saying the experience was 'amazing'.
"[It felt] incredible," he tells TV WEEK.
"I didn't even think I'd make it to the Top 24. Then along the way it was like, Top 12, Top 10, Top 5, I was like 'how am I still here?' So Top 3 was a dream! It was definitely an amazing experience. I loved it."
The three contestants were tasked with preparing a main meal and dessert for 20 guests during the semi-final. The trio were cooking for the judges, and MasterChef Australia alumni from the previous nine seasons.
"It was exciting, but it was nerve-wracking at the same time," Khanh says of serving up his dish to former contestants.
"I was like trying to save face, like I needed to present something that they're gonna be like 'Oh Khanh's dish is actually pretty good!' I fan-girled a couple of them!"
Khanh chose to create a dish close to his heart, a traditional Vietnamese fish dish called canh chua ca. For dessert, he reimagined the classic violet crumble by creating a violet ice-cream with honeycomb and dark chocolate.
"[Canh chua ca] is a peasant dish we have all the time. It's so yum and it's something I love having when I go home. It's something I wanted to do on the show but never figured out how to elevate it, to make it something I could plate up on MasterChef. Then once I figured it out I knew I had to do it. I just had to do it. It had to happen."
Khanh made a few unfortunate mistakes during the challenge, that led to his elimination. His crispy garlic component didn't work, and a piece of baking paper caught fire when he tried to cook his fish, causing the skin to burn.
Despite making mistakes, the young contestant says he was not concerned about going home.
"I kind of never think about going home, I always think about what I can do to push forward. I'm really positive and I always think about the best outcome, there's no point thinking about the worst [outcome]."
Despite the mishaps, Khanh maintains he was "100%" happy with the impressive dish he created.
"I was so happy with what I plated up. Obviously I could have used the crispy garlic, but I thought it was delicious. I was really proud of it."
Tomorrow night, Ben and Sashi will take part in the final battle – the Grand Finale – where one of them will be crowned Australian MasterChef for 2018.
Khanh reveals he's on Team Ben, saying that he deserves to be the last man standing.
"Ben has shown so much growth, and he is the chillest guy, and I love him to pieces. I really want him to win. He deserves it so much," he says.
The MasterChef Australia 2018 Grand Finale premieres Tuesday at 7:30pm on TEN and WIN Network.
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