EXCLUSIVE: MasterChef’s Aldo Ortado says connecting with Melissa Leong on a “deep level” helped him feel safe

''All the time that I was tearing up, she knew why it was so special for me.''

By Faye Couros
MasterChef's Aldo Ortado is one of the competition's most wholesome contestants, and that says a lot for a show synonymous with positive vibes.
Throughout his time on the Fans and Favourites season, the returning cook has worn his heart on his sleeve, and his reaction to leaving the show last night proves his unwavering humility.
"All good things must come to an end at some stage, and it's a competition where they're going to be just one winner. So, if it was my time last night was my time, that's my approach to life. So, I can't be upset," he tells TV WEEK.
"All good things must come to an end at some stage." (Image: Ten)
MasterChef's judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo, and Andy Allen have all impacted Aldo's journey, but he admits it was Mel who had the most profound impact on him when they discovered they both approached food with their childhood memories and emotional connections.
"She's just so beautifully spoken, and when you got somebody that you can connect with you to that deep level, just talking about a memory and the memory gets translated into a bowl of food, and she saw where I was coming from," Aldo shares.
"She actually understood what I was trying to translate with a plate of food. All my emotion and feelings that was above and beyond."
Both Aldo and Mel grew up with matriarchal figures who informed their relationship with food, which helped the 35-year-old feel safe expressing himself in the famous kitchen.
Mel had a huge impact on Aldo's time on the show. (Image: Ten)
"All the time that I was tearing up, she knew why it was so special for me that plate of food that I was cooking," remembers Aldo.
"She always said, 'Don't be afraid. It's one of the best things you can do is just express your emotions and feelings into your cook'."
However, Mel wasn't the only reason he felt comfortable to open up.
Aldo's self-growth since the last time he was on the show helped him "embrace the process" and become comfortable to "share a story about a dish."
"All the time that I was tearing up, she knew why it was so special." (Image: Ten)
Aldo has been separated from his family in Italy for three years because of COVID, which informed the stories he told through food on the show.
"Unfortunately, being away from [my family] for the past three years, and that's food that I've been eating for 27 years of my life, and every single dish has a really deep connection for me," he says.
"That was probably the hardest part for me to try to process that I shouldn't be afraid of showing my emotions and feelings on camera.
In good news, however, Aldo is reuniting with his family in September.
When asked if the returning favourite has advice for anyone who wants to embrace their vulnerable side, he tells TV WEEK, "I think that will be one of your biggest strengths to be vulnerable.
"That's what will make you be loved and more loved by people."
After his long-awaited family reunion, Aldo's fans can look forward to getting their hands on a cookbook he is working on and his upcoming guide to Southern Italian cuisine.

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