It was a tear-jerking final cook for Callum Hann in the MasterChef kitchen on Tuesday night when he narrowly missed out on a spot in the top three.
The season two runner-up and dad-of-one didn't quite hit the mark with his final fish dish but as a veteran contestant he became a fan favourite of the series.
Callum called Now To Love following his elimination to discuss his highlights on the show, why he wants his pal Laura Sharrad to win the season and why having his wife and daughter with him during filming made all the difference when COVID-19 was raging.
Now To Love: That was a particularly emotional cook for you, how was it watching your elimination on screen?
Callum: It was tough watching it back because obviously there's the competition you see on screen but what you don't necessarily see on screen is the fact that when we were filming it that's when COVID was really terrible. My business was closing down because we had to, like so many other businesses, so there were a few factors at play. Not to mention Laura's a great mate of mine and having to cook head-to-head against her wasn't a lot of fun in that regard.
That was pretty sweet when she mentioned that she fangirled over you back when you starred on season two though.
Yeah, I feel exactly the same way about someone like Poh who was on season one. Poh was one of the reasons I applied for the show in the first place and I got to cook against her in this competition.
Did you get many of the more recent contestants approaching you telling you that you inspired them to go on the show?
Certainly a few but at the same time I have just as much I have respect for them and for the skills they've shown. We all know how hard it is to be away from friends and family so I think there's a lot of mutual respect.
Speaking of friends and family, you were able to have your wife Crystal and baby daughter Elle with you. How did that make a difference?
When the borders were going to close between South Australia and Victoria we had to make a decision. A. I complete the show, B. We stay in our respective states or C. My wife and baby came over to Melbourne and that's the option we ended up going with because when we first started filming the show Elle was three-months-old so I didn't want to miss that important time of her life.
It was really good for me, it was tough for Crystal and Elle because normally at home you have a mum or a friend or a family member who can help out a bit whereas she had no help so I was trying to do what I could but I was filming. It was tough but obviously it was awesome having them there during such a tricky time. The other contestants embraced both of them being there - we're all in separate serviced apartments but we'd all go round for dinner together like a big happy family. The contestants would hang out and cook for each other and you can see that bond between the contestants in places like last night, it ends up getting a little bit emotional.
WATCH BELOW: MasterChef's Callum talks about his family. Post continues after video...
A lot of people talk about how becoming a parent changes you - how do you think you've changed now you're a dad?
I guess I didn't have that much time to change to be honest as I'd only been a dad for three months when we started filming. I guess it's a good way of re-prioritising your life and all of a sudden you've got someone else to look out for - there are other things that are more important in life than just doing work or in this case a competition like this. I think that sort of reality check was actually really good for me - of course I took the competition seriously but also when you get eliminated it's nice to have someone to come home to. I was really excited to get home and get back to the life that I love.
So when is Elle going to learn how to cook?
[Laughs] Well she's crawling around at the moment so she's not quite at bench-height yet! We've been feeding her lots of different thing and she smashes everything, it's incredible. She's a great eater - I don't think there's anything I've offered her that she hasn't wolfed down! If someone's a good eater then hopefully she'll be keen to get in the kitchen and give me a hand as she gets a little bit older.
You mentioned that you had no regrets in the competition except the fish in your elimination. Do you stand by that?
A hundred per cent, you can't have regrets. To be honest I feel like considering there were 24 people at the start of the competition that had all worked in the food industry and had done the competition once before, my goal was just not to be the first one eliminated and to get past a whole bunch of chefs that were really incredible cooks. Of course I would've loved to have gone a little bit further but at the same time I'm pretty proud of how I went and where I got to.
There were some full-on challenges and celebrity guests this season, what was your MasterChef: Back To Win highlight?
The obvious answer is when I got to cook alongside Gordon Ramsay all the way back in week one - that was something really special and really incredible. But at the same time, as much as meeting all the well-known chefs was really cool and an awesome part of being on a show like that, for me meeting the contestants and spending time with some of those guys and getting to know them a little bit better, cooking dinner and hanging out with them was a real highlight. I really enjoyed the period of filming because of that camaraderie that we had.
You mentioned that you're close with Laura who's copped a lot of flack for being Jock's favourite and cooking only pasta dishes. Is it tough to hear that sort of stuff as her friend?
I think it's tough to hear for me just because I don't think either of those things are true. The episode I got eliminated was something like episode 63 and I'm not sure if people are watching the same show I'm watching because if you actually watch the show I reckon she's made maybe five pasta dishes out of 63 episodes. If I owned a pasta restaurant and everyone loved my pasta, I'd be cooking five pasta dishes as well, probably more!
Everyone plays to their strengths - Reese and Emelia make cakes for a living so of course they make a lot of desserts, Reynold's got his dessert bar so of course he's going to whip out his favourite desserts off the menu. I think everyone plays to their strengths and you've got to - I think the reason that Laura's still there now is because A she's a good cook and B she's smart and she's played to her strengths and managed to get through.
I think where some of that criticism has come from is because she cooked a couple of pasta dishes in the first few episodes and then it sort of stuck but then from there she hardly cooked pasta again. It was a mob mentality rather than actually being accurate.
We think we know the answer to this one but who do you want to see win of the remaining three?
I think you know the answer as well! I am genuinely really good mates with Emelia and Reynold as well and have become so over the last six months but it's hard to go past someone who you've been mates with for six or seven years who I catch up with outside filming as well. I'd love to see Laura take it out and I think she's probably got the skills to do so but at the same time I think any of the three of them could win so it's going to be an interesting final couple of challenges.