Conor Curran lit up MasterChef with his eccentric and infectious energy that left viewers with smiles on their faces.
Although he said goodbye to the famous kitchen last night, he has managed to leave his mark on the season.
Conor was not expecting to get past the shows first week, which proved to be an issue when he only packed three earrings for the competition.
"I only brought three earrings in my luggage; I thought I was going to be there for week one, and then I would head home. So, I was running out every week to get more earrings," Conor tells Now To Love in an exclusive interview.
Although, the accessory debacle led to some pretty sweet moments with judge Melissa Leong, an earring connoisseur.
"Oh, she was so sweet, she was like 'I wish I could just give you some of mine', and I was like 'mate, please allow me into the back room so I can take some.'"
"There is like an inner sanctum of earrings, and I was like that just sounds like my heaven," Conor tells us.
From starting the show with three doubtful earrings to becoming the one to watch, Conor looks back on his experience with a humble heart.
"I am feeling really good. I am feeling really humbled by the entire experience, even that I was there, so I feel really good," the 27-year-old explains.
While Melissa was sweetly helping Conor through his earring shortage, Judge Jock Zonfrillo was a more intense figure in his time on MasterChef.
"He [Jock] was very intense to me. I think he felt very passionate about the food I was doing, but with Jock, I think dismissiveness is a bad thing; you want him to be passionate and intense to you because that means he cares about what you are doing," the restaurant manager reflects.
As Conor spent more time with Jock, he realised that what he initially thought was dislike for him and his cooking was actually something special.
"I think for a while I thought he hated me, and then by the end, I realised how much he deeply cared about who I am and what I was doing; because passion is how he shows love.
"People would say is 'Jock bullying you', and I would say 'Jock loves me, trust me, we're good'," he points out.
Conor was sent home for his green olive ice cream, ravani, aniseed syrup dessert because his ice cream was too grainy.
But even though his time was cut short, his modern Greek cooking throughout the season pushed the boundaries of what people understand about Greek food.
"It was a big thing for me to be nostalgic but to bring it into 2021, and I can't really remember a positive Greek cook in a long time, and I think for me I really wanted to push that," the aspiring cook recalls.
Like many contestants on the show, Conor's Yiayia was an inspiration behind the food he creates.
When Conor was growing up, his parent's worked full time, which meant his Yiayia took care of him, and this time they had together resulted in some of his fondest memories.
"So my mum and dad worked full time, so I just stayed with my Yiayia, which is so familiar in Greek families."
"I just remember being at her house all day and looking through her garden and not really knowing what I was picking and putting into the bowl, but it eventually became familiar."
"Those are my memories and her just putting a block of feta down next to every plate I was given; that is my fondest and earliest memories," the reality star admits.
Of course, Yiayia was cheering her grandson on as she watched him compete during the season.
But Conor admits she struggled to watch his pasta cook because she couldn't offer her cooking tips to save Conor's hilopites.
"The best part was I did hilopites for pasta, and she [Yiayia] calls my mum because I made it slightly too thin and she goes to my mum 'why didn't he call me during the episode so I can tell him what thing to put it on?' said Conor. "And my mum was like, 'mum, he can't call you in the middle of a 35-minute cook."
As for life beyond MasterChef, Conor plans to release a modern Greek cookbook, and he is working on eventually opening a sandwich place called Sit Down Dora, after his mum and a hidden bar named, Shut Up Mike, after his dad.
- PuzzlesThe Australian Women's Weekly July Issue Online Entry
Prizes To LoveToday 12:00am