EXCLUSIVE: MasterChef's Reynold Poernomo says learning from his past homophobic comments has given him hope

''If there's one thing for sure, you're going to have to learn the hard way.''

By Alex Lilly
His name is synonymous with extravagant sweet treats, but Dessert King Reynold Poernomo just missed out on the MasterChef crown during Sunday night's episode.
The 26-year-old Sydney-based chef wowed with both his sweet and savoury dishes, but just missed out on the grand final when he didn't quite perfect Martin Benn's toffee apple extravaganza.
Reynold called Now To Love shortly after his elimination episode aired to discuss his emotional exit, how his family and girlfriend reacted to his time on the show and why he's learned and grown so much since making those controversial homophobic comments online.
Now To Love: Congratulations on making it to third place, the bronze medal of MasterChef! How does it feel now everything's done and dusted?
I do still feel a bit devastated, but it's life and we all move on. Everything happens for a reason basically.
That final pressure test looked intense, did it hurt to go out on a dessert and by a chef that you admire?
Not really, because I really enjoyed that cook. I learned a lot from that whole challenge - it was a marathon for sure and it was a rough one, but it was a really fun one too. I've been to Martin Benn's restaurants many times, but having a chat and getting to know him up close in person was inspiring.
"I do still feel a bit devastated, but it's life and we all move on." (Image: Network Ten)
The other big talking point of your elimination was when you got emotional speaking about your and your family's experience as immigrants in Australia. Do you think this season has reflected the diversity and various cultures in Australia?
This season has definitely shown a lot of diversity. Not many people actually speak about this kind of story and it's amazing to see how, growing up with other immigrants, we all kind of connect in the same way by growing up so humbly.
Whether you're second generation or first generation coming to Australia, we've all come from humble beginnings and it's all from hard work, determination and basically putting your name out there. I'm Indonesian but I'm also Australian, and I didn't know much about my Indonesian heritage and my culture. It was a really mixed feeling - to grow up and find my identity with this country was kind of a long process.
What did your family and your girlfriend make of you going back on the show?
In general, I didn't want to go back on - I was kind of confused whether I should or not because I had to take my time out of work and take months filming for MasterChef. My mum was more encouraging and my girlfriend was as well, but my friends weren't really. But it was all a blessing because no one expected a pandemic and MasterChef has definitely helped our business a lot once again.
When I got booted out my brothers were basically saying to me 'Really? Are you serious?' And then my mum was like 'I'm so proud of you, you've done so well...are you really out?' My girlfriend's always been really supportive - even though she's in Bali we FaceTime every day, even during filming. As soon as the borders open I'm going to Bali!
The Snitch was Reynold's favourite dessert of the series. (Image: Network Ten)
You are of course the Dessert King of MasterChef. Did you have one in particular that you were really proud of?
Definitely the Snitch. I was so happy because I designed that dish while I was still filming, so I didn't have the equipment to make it and I was directing my second in charge pastry chef from Melbourne. We put it on the menu and a couple of customers didn't really like it, it wasn't that great and I wasn't sure why.
That challenge was the very first time I made the dish by hand and I adjusted a few little things that I thought would improve the dish and in the end it was a really tasty dish.
It's been five years since you were last on MasterChef and you said you wanted to not just be known for your sweets. How much do you think you've grown cooking-wise since 2015?
Heaps! I've definitely done a lot more savoury dishes. Even now I let my pastry chefs do the desserts and I'm the only one doing the savouries at KOI at the moment.
If I want to be one of the best chefs, I've got to be doing everything and not just desserts, because that's just too niche. I find it a bit more challenging and fun as well.
WATCH BELOW: Reynold's Moss is actually mental. Post continues after video...
Aside from your elimination dish, was there a challenge that you found particularly challenging or tough?
There were a couple actually. I've been to a lot of round two cooks but actually the two dish mystery box challenge - that was the roughest cook I ever did. I thought to myself 'Holy c--p I can't cook!' It made me doubt everything so I was really grateful to come this far.
Final three is an incredible achievement. Of Emelia and Laura who would you love to see take the win?
I can't really say to be honest - they're both such exceptional cooks. Laura's got her own style of cooking that's very unique and it's hard for chefs to actually find their niche and style of food, and Emelia's been baking for many years, her cakes are so beautiful, but she's done so much more in the competition.
I'm really happy for them and even off camera, we're all really close friends.
Reynold made it to the top three with Emelia Jackson and Laura Sharrad. (Image: Network Ten)
You spoke to the Daily Telegraph about those homophobic comments you made in a resurfaced blog post about how you've been learning and moved forward. You said the comments impacted you in certain ways as well, what about those has impacted you?
The learning process is life, that's how it is. You make mistakes along the way and you're not going to become a better person if you don't change and change is inevitable and always for better.
That's how I always want to see it - when you change you're growing and if there's one thing for sure, you're going to have to learn the hard way, that's just how it is.
It's given me a lot of hope and reassurance that change is for good. Seeing that support from my friends - I'm so grateful that my friends know who I am now.
What's life looking like now in the COVID era post MasterChef?
It's been quite interesting and very busy. There was a lot of drama and to re-open took quite a bit of time, because trying to readjust to the new world wasn't easy at all, especially coming right off the show as I didn't take a break and came right back to work.
There's only a couple of cases in Sydney and I'm just hoping it doesn't spike up to the point where we have to go back into lockdown. We're booked out until September and it's filling up quickly, so it's going to be a huge hard hit again if it comes down to lockdown.
Reynold went straight back to work after the show. (Image: Network Ten)

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