When Declan Cleary, one of the youngest contestants on this season of MasterChef Australia, told his loved ones he'd made the top 18, he says they were "just screaming".
The 25-year-old – a carpenter from Sydney's Northern Beaches – tells TV WEEK he couldn't have done it without the support of his mum Sam and girlfriend Talya.
"Being away from the missus was one of the hardest things [about being on the show]" Declan says.
He says he never thought Talya, who'd been his friend for a few years, would become his girlfriend.
"I thought she was too good for me," Declan admits.Now after three years together, he can't wait to marry the love of his life, declaring, "I'm sure she's the one."
For all the happiness that lies ahead in Declan's personal life, right now, the MasterChef family is still coming to terms with the shocking loss of much-loved judge and chef Jock Zonfrillo, who died unexpectedly in April aged 46.
It's an emotional time, and this season's contestants are rallying around each other for support.
"There hasn't been a day that's gone by where I haven't received a phone call or a message from someone checking in," Declan says. "We were just lucky to spend the time with him we did."
While Jock and Declan got on well because they were "both a bit cheeky and a little naughty", he says he really related to MasterChef judge and former winner Andy Allen.
Like Declan, Andy was a tradie who, in 2012, dropped everything to pursue his passion for cooking.
"We both have that sort of laidback, larrikin energy," he says. "It made it easier walking into the MasterChef kitchen every day. I just thought, 'If Andy can do it, I can do it.'"