EXCLUSIVE: How Melissa Leong helped John Carasig realise he “needed” to be on MasterChef

''I'm not a quitter.''

By Faye Couros
Before COVID hit MasterChef's John Carasig's life, he made handmade chocolates for his company Adobo and worked as a flight attendant.
When he couldn't get his beans imported from the Philippines and flying wasn't an option, John, and his partner Dave, did what millions of Australians had to do, they shifted their focus.
They began putting more energy into Dave's successful wigs business, called Human Hair by Dave.
So, when he was asked to return to MasterChef, it had been a while since he worked with food.
John on season seven of MasterChef. (Image: Ten)
But when he realised it was the perfect opportunity for a fresh start, he took on the challenge with ambitious aspirations.
"After the whole pandemic, I wasn't doing anything. I thought when I got the phone call back, 'I guess this is a good opportunity to relaunch what I was doing before the pandemic," he tells Now To Love.
However, during the show, John felt some doubts about his place in the competition, and the ever-supportive judge, Melissa Leong, was instrumental in pushing him forward.
"I thought I don't need the competition to give me validation of what I actually do. Then talking to Mel during that time made me realise I'm here because the fans wanted me back, I guess. MasterChef wants me back because I had potential," he shares.
Another defining moment for the cook happened during Reynold's challenge when he finally found his confidence.
"I thought, no, I actually do belong in this competition, and I wasn't ready to leave," says John.
Sadly, the former season seven contestant had to say goodbye last night during a challenge involving eggs.
"I actually do belong in this competition, and I wasn't ready to leave." (Image: Ten)
He served a lemon tart to the judges, but the meringue was botched, and he couldn't include the main ingredient on his plate – a big no, no in the famous kitchen.
There wasn't a dry eye in living rooms around Australia during his parting speech when he gushed over Julie Goodwin, who he had shared the bottom two with.
It turns out that behind the scenes, he had taken time to tell the first-ever winner of MasterChef how much impact she has had on him and everyone who has ever entered the kitchen.
"I always told Julie every time I talked to her, and I said, 'Julie, you realise that all these contestants are here because of you.
"She was so beautiful." (Image: Ten)
"You were the first winner, and she was like, being Julie, she was so lovely. Yeah. She was so beautiful," says John of the wholesome moment.
Now that he has reconnected with his MasterChef roots, he is looking forward to relaunching his chocolate brand and experimenting with native ingredients after becoming inspired by his fellow contestant Mindy Woods.
"I didn't realise we have such an abundance of it. You can see natives on the highway, and people don't even realise they're edible," he shares.
"I think it's where our food should be heading towards."

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