/assets/images/headerlogos/TVWEEK-logo.svg
Masterchef

EXCLUSIVE: MasterChef winner Justin Narayan almost left the entire competition after a family tragedy, here's why he stayed

''It was touch and go if I would continue on in the comp.''

By Faye Couros
Justin Narayan has been crowned MasterChef's 2021 winner, and the underdog claimed victory after achieving a one-point triumph over Pete Campbell.
The intense final round saw the final three, which included Kishwar Chowdhury, who came third, make two intense dishes created by guest chef Peter Gilmore.
Justin overcame the challenge of creating Peter's golden crackle dessert and squid noodles with finesse and good humour, which secured his admiration from judges Melissa Leong, Andy Allen, and Jock Zonfrillo.
Speaking with TV Week, Justin reveals why the $250,000 prize was at one time completely out of sight for the cook who almost left the competition after tragic circumstances rocked his family.
Justin wins MasterChef with a megawatt smile! Instagram
During filming, Justin's father fell sick and ended up in the ICU, which unsurprisingly had him contemplating his place in the competition.
"He got sick during filming and ended up in ICU for a few days, and it was touch and go if I would continue on with the comp or not, but he ended up getting better and got out of the hospital," shares the 27-year-old.
Although his father thankfully overcame his illness in the thick of the situation, Justin leaned on his co-competitors, Brent Draper, Pete Campbell and Amir Manoly, for support.
"I remember telling those guys, I didn't really tell anyone, but I told those guys one morning, and there was a couple of tears. Those boys were really supportive, and we all just had each other's backs.
"It was just a genuine friendship, like competition and everything aside, it was awesome to have people like that around you in moments like that," says Justin.
As for his bromance with Pete, fans can rest assured that the mates are still in contact and awe of each other.
Justin with his father and partner Esther by his side. Instagram
"Yeah, I'm still good mates with Pete he is an absolute legend," exclaims Justin.
Family means a lot to Justin, and when he found out he won, his dad was the first thought that came to his mind, and Justin was instantly grateful he could have his grandparents and fiancée Esther with him in the kitchen.
"The first person I thought of would have been my dad, who was next to me, which was awesome," he remembers.
"And then my grandparents; so it was real special to have them around, and it was real awesome to have my fiancée there. I definitely wouldn't even have signed up if it weren't for her."
Although, before his gratitude sunk in, Justin had to regain some clarity because he was so shocked to find out he won that he totally "went blank."
"I was just genuinely so shocked I wasn't ready for it at all.
"I honestly was so confused I just went blank, like this is nuts, the weight of the moment just hit me," he recalls.
Justin and his wife during the grand final. Instagram
It has been revealed that Esther is no longer Justin's fiancée but his wonderful wife.
The loved-up couple who became engaged during a break in filming got married straight after the show ended in Perth along the Swan.
Justin rightly claims that 2021 has been the best year of his life, but the thrilled newlywed's favourite moment is by far saying his I dos.
"It was genuinely the best day of my life; winning MasterChef was awesome but getting married was a huge highlight – it's been a crazy year, so who knows what's next," says Justin.
As for his culinary future, he would like to get some more experience before one day opening his own restaurant.
Justin has big plans for his future in cooking. Instagram
"I would love to create some food content, which I am working on at the moment and hopefully get some experience in the kitchen, and work towards opening my own place, and that would be real cool."
For everyone wondering what cuisine Justin would like to create, the former paster is still working that out – so watch this space!
"I still haven't figured it out. I think I still want to get a little more experience and see what new techniques I can work with, but I do love the nostalgia of the food I grew up eating, so I am sure that will sneak into every type of food I make," says Justin whose Fijian and Indian background inspires his cooking.

read more from

/assets/images/headerlogos/TVWEEK-logo.svg