When Julie Goodwin signed up for MasterChef's Fans and Favourites, she wasn't sure if it was the right decision.
But in the end, she proved why she's such a compelling cook and why Australia loves her by making it to the top five.
Although she left the competition last night after serving a burnt whisky toffee pudding, Julie tells TV WEEK that it was all worth it.
"For a little while after that elimination happened, it's like, your kicking yourself stage, where it's like, 'why didn't I just do this and why didn't I just do that?' Honestly, I'm at peace with it and feel very proud to have gotten to the top five," she says.
After winning the first ever MasterChef back in 2009, the mother-of-three has become an icon to the contestants, and after spending time back in the trenches, she's ready to pass on the baton.
"There's a feeling of appropriateness about actually handing on now and sort of stepping away and saying, 'I've had that beautiful experience of being the very first winner. I've been fortunate to have been a part of this MasterChef family for so many years, and now it's time for a new generation.'
"Everyone left in the competition [final four Billie McKay, Daniel Lamble, Keyma Vasquez Montero, and Sarah Todd] is younger, and the three that have children, their children are younger than my children who are all grown up," she explains.
Julie admits that she harboured anxiety about what coming back may mean for her legacy, but ultimately it was worth a shot.
"It was pretty scary because there was a feeling there that everything's on the line. I won the show 13 years ago and built a career out of that," she admits.
"To put myself back into that situation, that competition, I felt like I may be risking all of that. I didn't know whether or not there would be a point being made about how much further things have gone now, and I might stumble very, very quickly and be out very, very quickly that I might look foolish.
"So, all of those thoughts go through your head, and that creates a fair bit of anxiety."
Luckily, she was put at ease when she discovered that judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo, and Andy Allen wanted the contestants "to lean into the food we love to cook."
"Mel has this kindness about her that just shines even when she's not judging but when she's just walking around having a chat. She's beautiful," Julie praises.
She adds that Jock's passion for food and desire to get the "very best" out of the contestants impressed her, whilst Andy Allen's "empathy" as a former contestant added to the experience.
But at the end of the day, Julie says the best part about her second stint on the reality show was bonding with her fellow contestants.
"One night, we hired a karaoke machine, and every single one of us got on the karaoke machine; so much fun!" she recalls.
"It was a really beautiful atmosphere, and we all laughed so hard. There was so much funny stuff that happened.
"Aldo [Ortado] with this gigantic personality, and Mindy [Woods] as well with their energy. So, we would sing backstage, and we would coordinate dance moves. The best part of the whole experience for me was those guys and the fun we had."
Last January, Julie's middle son Tom welcomed an adorable baby girl called Delilah, and the proud grandma is still on cloud nine.
"She's just the apple of our eye. She's 17 months old, and she is divine," she gushes, adding that the little one "eats like a horse."
Since Delilah arrived when the country was under strict COVID rules, it "broke" the cookbook author's heart that she wasn't allowed to hold her.
But luck struck when they negotiated to mask up go "into a public area within the hospital" and Julie confesses her "heart broke wide open" the moment she cradled Delilah.
"I've never felt anything like that. You know you love your children, you love them to death, but there is something about a grandchild that's just a whole separate chamber of your heart."
The 51-year-old explains why becoming a grandparent was more profound than a parent, and her answer sings to the daunting anxiety of taking on parenthood.
"I think it's something to do with the fact that you can relax in the knowledge that you've raised some people and to keep them alive and they're okay," she explains.
"You don't have that fear or that worry with a grandchild. It's just you just have the joy."