He may have been the runner-up of season five, but Lynton Tapp unfortunately became the first to leave the MasterChef kitchen on Monday night.
The 32-year-old chef plated up two final dishes of pickled mussels and fish with a lime and ginger dressing, followed by blue swimmer crab with buckwheat and grilled asparagus, and though the judges were left unimpressed, Lynton has "no regrets" about his cooking.
In an exclusive chat with Now To Love, Lynton talks his short but sweet time back on the show plus, what new dad life is like in lockdown with seven-month-old son, Atticus and what guest judge Gordon Ramsay is like behind the scenes.
Now To Love: How's isolation been treating you so far?
Lynton: We've been doing ok but it still has its challenges, especially with a seven-month-old baby who sometimes starts chewing the paint off the wall mid-afternoon!
He is a cutie, how's new dad life going?
It's fantastic. It's everything that you expect and hope for plus a whole lot more. I love my wife more than anything but you never experience love like it until you have a kid, it's incredible. We're really enjoying doing our production in the kitchen and making the most of bad circumstances. I've lost all my work for the foreseeable future so we're keeping busy and entertained and enjoying delicious food along the way!
Commiserations on being the first one to go on MasterChef, but it seems like it was a short but sweet time.
It was short but sweet. I had a fantastic week of production, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course I wish I went on further into the competition - I don't know about winning it but I just wanted to be there for a while because it's the combination of my careers that I love. I love cooking, I love chef-ing and I love TV production so for me I was in heaven. I desperately wanted to proceed further and like everyone said, no one wants to be the first to go.
Do you have any regrets about your final dishes? Would you change it if you could?
No I wouldn't have. I know that sounds controversial but I'm really proud and comfortable of what I made. In the space of 90 minutes I created two dishes and they had 15 or 16 different techniques so I did a different element or technique every six minutes or so. Technically speaking, I thought my elimination dishes were really good but it wasn't a pressure test with a set recipe that everyone was cooking from and a guideline for judging -it was open to their personal opinions and the judges didn't agree with my thought processes and execution of the dish.
What do you make of the brand new judges compared to George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston who were the judges when you were last in the MasterChef kitchen?
Everyone's going to have a different point of view and opinion of them. I probably have one of the more different views because I went first and they were five days, one week into the job when I left so they were settling into their roles. Matt, Gary and George were mentors to me and they still are - I chat to them all from time to time when I need some advice and some critical thinking and they're there for the entire MasterChef community. But Andy, Melissa and Jock I see them more as colleagues, especially Andy and Melissa who I've been around for years- I've worked in one of Andy's restaurants, I've cooked with him on his cooking shows and we've hung out together.
It's a different experience for me being back and conversations with the judges aren't one way. Of course I have the utmost respect for them and what they've achieved but I've also achieved a lot since I left MasterChef so I felt that any conversation was open to interpretation.
In any industry you're going to have professional disagreement, that's just the nature of it. I respectfully think that some of the comments they said weren't necessarily in line with what I thought. You have to remember I've been cooking for seven years in some of Australia's best and highest pressure kitchens and I consider my palate pretty experienced - it would be unlike me to put out something that lacks taste and texture.
WATCH BELOW: Gary, Matt and George's world food tour. Post continues after video...
You said one of your highlights was working in the kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. Is he as insane and foul-mouthed as we've seen on TV?
He's sane and insane at exactly the same time, just depending on which part of the challenge you're in - that's the beautiful thing about Gordon Ramsay.
Through the team challenge he was so supportive and encouraging but as all chefs do come service time, you have your prep time to get everything right, you should've done it, get the food on the pass and out to the customers no questions asked and it has to be perfect. I admired his professionalism in that manner, he is a chef at heart.
One of the silver linings of leaving early was being reunited with your wife and little son.
Yes we celebrated our first wedding anniversary which was lovely to be home for. I couldn't imagine still being within the production through COVID-19 - all their procedures have changed. I know that people with families have had to adjust - there's no travel, visitations are very limited so it would've been extremely difficult to continue through the competition with a clear mind.
How do your wife's cooking skills stack up against yours?
My wife's actually a brilliant cook - I give her credit for my love of pasta to this day. Growing up on cattle stations, my experience of pasta was a stodgy spag bol that had random ingredients in it that sort of congealed and set so I didn't like pasta all until I met my wife and she makes some beautiful authentic Italian pastas that I've adapted and passed off as my own! She can handle herself in the kitchen but she has the opinion of 'When you've got a professional, why bother?'
We are the ying and the yang in the kitchen- I'm chaos getting everything done and she runs a tight ship so she comes through and does the dishes and wipes the benches down which she says I'm absolutely hopeless at but my clean down in the restaurant is a little bit different than in the house.
Of course, the current climate means a lot of things are on hold now, but what's next after MasterChef?
It's so devastating - I just got the green light for a cooking program on Ten so my return to the silver screen was imminent but unfortunately that's been pushed back but everything's such a dynamic situation and changing so it may not happen. For now I'm really enjoying doing my little videos with Atticus so I'm going all out in our little studio kitchen. My mum said I should look to explore the baby space being a stay-at-home-dad and since starting the videos that's sort of solidified that so I've been exploring avenues within the baby food area.
I'm getting the loveliest messages from mums and dads alike saying 'I really appreciate and enjoy what you're doing and showing you can can cook and enjoy having kids in the kitchen as well. It's really heartening for me and a lovely experience - it's something I haven't necessarily got with a lot of productions I've done in the past. My subliminal message is if I can do it with a seven-month-old in a chair next to me on the kitchen-top, anyone can do it.
- PuzzlesThe Australian Women's Weekly July Issue Online Entry
Prizes To LoveToday 12:00am