EXCLUSIVE: MasterChef's Brendan Pang defends Reynold Poernomo over his resurfaced homophobic comments

''I've grown to become quite close and good friends with Reynold.''

By Alex Lilly
Brendan Pang made it to the top nine on season 10 of MasterChef, but despite missing out on victory for the Back To Win season, he one-upped himself and made it to top eight.
The Dumpling King, 27, has come a long way since quitting his job as a child protection social worker in Broome to star on season 10.
Since then, Brendan confesses it's been a non-stop roller-coaster and he's quickly become a fan favourite.
Shortly after his elimination, Brendan chatted with Now To Love about his highs and lows on MasterChef, his strong friendship with co-star Reece and what he made of Reynold's controversial unearthed homophobic comments.
Now To Love: Congratulations on making it to top eight. What was your MasterChef highlight this season?
Brendan: I think for me walking through those doors again for the first time. It's a feeling that you can't describe walking into the MasterChef kitchen – it's all goosebumpy and I never thought I'd do it again. That first day walking in and seeing Gordon Ramsay standing there was insane.
We've heard mixed things about Gordon, was he scary or a big softie?
We had him on my season so I actually wasn't too scared. I was expecting him to be quite scary but he was actually really nice.
Brendan with his MasterChef best friend Reece Hignell. (Image: Network Ten)
Mel also said that she and the judges had eaten the best dumplings that the MasterChef kitchen has ever seen. How did that feel to hear that?
It's always amazing to be recognised for your work and what you specialise in. For me, coming back into MasterChef this year was all about showing my identity, the one that I've developed over the past couple of years and I'm just staying true to that.
A few of the contestants had reservations about coming back to the show. What were your thoughts when you were asked back?
I was actually very keen - I really wanted to come back on. I thought it was an awesome opportunity but I did have to sit back and have a good think. It is quite hard to leave your business behind and your family and partner, all that stuff.
"For me, coming back into MasterChef this year was all about showing my identity, the one that I've developed over the past couple of years and I'm just staying true to that." (Image: Network Ten)
Gordon Ramsay was one of your highlights but aside from your elimination, what was the toughest challenge for you on the show?
Tough moment for me was probably, with most people out there, having to face the new world that we live in with COVID-19 and that occurring half way through. I'm from Perth but we were filming in Melbourne and not being able to see my family or partner was tough. You do have production breaks and opportunities to go and see family but with all the restrictions and border closures it did kind of play on my mind a fair bit.
What was that reunion like when you finally got home?
It was awesome. I remember the day I came back – the weather was really good and I had to go straight into social lockdown for two weeks which kind of sucked, but I really enjoyed being back and seeing my family and partner. Just enjoying a bit of downtime.
Brendan admits that being away from his family, friends and partner was the biggest challenge he faced this season. (Image: Instagram @brendan_pang)
We don't see much of what goes on behind the scenes but you all stayed in hotel rooms together while filming. Who was your MasterChef roomie?
Mine was Reece. It was awesome sharing with him, our friendship is quite strong and it translated on TV, but we had heaps of fun.
You guys were definitely a double act, when did you realise you had such a great friendship going?
We clicked quite naturally in my season and I've spoken about it before, but when I was eliminated in season 10 Reece was someone that I looked up to and for me that was quite a big confidence boost. Around the same time I came out publicly to all of my friends and family and to Reece as well so I guess since then our relationship's grown quite strong. He's like a brother to me I'd say.
Reece defended Reynold after those resurfaced homophobic comments from 2010 came up. What did you make of those?
Pretty much the same as what Reece has said. I know Reynold quite well and I've grown to become quite close and good friends with Reynold so I don't see him as a homophobic person at all.
"I've grown to become quite close and good friends with Reynold so I don't see him as a homophobic person at all." (Images: Network Ten)
You also said that Poh was someone you looked up to. What was it like cooking alongside some of the original MasterChef heroes?
It was super cool. I was intimidated by Poh at the start because she's one of my idols growing up and one of the reasons I applied in the first place. Getting to know Poh has been incredible and we're quite close which is cool.
This season of MasterChef has shone a light on the many cuisines and cultures in Australia. Do you reckon this season has shown the diversity of Australia when it comes to food?
It has. There's always been quite a diverse representation on MasterChef I think. Maybe Mel's impact on the show has really helped to bring that to light. It's amazing –we all come from such different backgrounds, Australia is a melting pot of people from all different heritages. It was really great to see that this year on the show.
What was it like cooking for the three new judges?
It was awesome. Their first time on the show, they brought this new and exciting energy that I really appreciated. At the end of the day they judged the food, they're so excited and passionate about it and that's great for me.
We have a feeling we know the answer but who would you love to see win the competition?
Reece without a doubt! I would love for him to win. I probably wouldn't hear the end of it but I still really want him to win.
WATCH BELOW: Reece Hignell eliminated from MasterChef Australia season 10.

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