When one of MasterChef's best cooks of all time, Reynold Poernomo, stepped into the Fans & Favourites kitchen last night, every contestant knew it would be tough.
While everyone worked hard on their culinary creations, sadly, Max Krapivsky had to say goodbye to the competition.
"When he [Reynold] walked through the doors, I wasn't completely thrilled," he jokes to TV WEEK.
Although Max left sooner than he would like, he is happy with the journey he went.
"I'm pretty happy with what I got to experience. I think I got to cross off every single bucket list," says Max.
The Osteopath from Melbourne grew up going to his grandparents' house after school while his dad worked six days a week and his mum navigated an eight-to-six corporate job.
"My grandmother Rita was an incredible cook. From the age of four or five all the way to my early teens, I would go to her house every day, and she would have freshly cooked meals for me. Like soup to start with, then mains and then dessert," he warmly reflects.
Max's family arrived in Australia during the '70s after living during the Soviet Union in a Ukrainian city.
He experienced his dual heritage through food, and while dishes aren't the solution to what is happening between those nations today, he believes there is no greater unifier.
"It's horrible to see what is going on [the war in Ukraine], and a huge part of my food background is Russian food and Russian cuisine, which is so interchangeable with Ukrainian.
"It makes me think with all the conflicts in the world, food is such a great unifier and so much hate and prejudice anywhere, but food is this great leveller, and people can go, 'Oh, yeah, I love that Ukrainian dish' or 'I love that Russian dish' it opens up a conversation through so many aspects," he shares.
Max made some really strong bonds while in the MasterChef kitchen, but his closest friendship by far is with Harry Tomlinson, who cried when he left the show.
"We [the contestants] created this really incredible bond straight away, but my best mate on the show was Harry, and she'll be a lifelong friend.
"Seeing her bawling in yesterday's episode was the validation of our friendship," he tells TV WEEK.
Naturally, out of all the Favourites returning to the series, the three winners, Sashi Cheliah, Billie McKay, and Julie Goodwin, were the Fans' biggest inspirations.
Out of the "undefeated gladiators of the kitchen" Julie exceeded Max's expectations the most.
"I was having a hoke with Julie one day and didn't expect the absolute quick wit and dry humour that she had me fully right back onto my heels.
"She's the most gorgeous woman. I think for exceeding expectations like no matter when you win, if it was ten years or twenty years ago, you are a MasterChef winner, and people shouldn't forget that.
"I think I did. And I think Julie very quickly showed everyone in the competition in Australia why she was pervious winner and just how bloody good she is," tells Max.