EXCLUSIVE: Tommy Pham knows sacrificing time with son Miles for MasterChef will be worth it

''I wish it was easier this time.''

By Faye Couros
The first time Tommy Pham entered the MasterChef kitchen his son, Miles, was six months old.
It wasn't easy being away from his young family but it was a huge opportunity and he wanted to show his son, who he shares with his wife Wendy, that he could follow his dreams.
But now he's back for Fans and Favourites with a goal of equal importance.
"I think after the end of last season, I came back to Miles, and I was like, 'You know, I love this little guy, but I really want to be able to provide for him and do what I love at the same time.
Tommy first went on MasterChef when his son was six months old. (Image: Instagram)
"[To] work on that balance between making a living and following my dreams and my passion," he tells TV WEEK.
Of course, sacrifice is inherently difficult and although Tommy knows he is doing something with long term benefits, it doesn't make his decision easier.
"I wish it was easier this time. I miss out on more milestones when I'm gone. He grows so much more quickly, and things change so much in this period of time in his life and from one to two, you can come home, and he will be a completely different person," he says.
"I think the sacrifice is worth it, 100 per cent."
"I wish it was easier this time. I miss out on more milestones when I'm gone." (Image: Instagram)
Within the chaos that erupts at any point during a MasterChef cook, there are likely three things on the contestant's minds; don't mess up, check the time, and did I balance the flavours?
Tommy finds a moment to connect with Miles in the calm before the storm through a picture he always keeps nearby.
"I've got a little polaroid of him that I put in my pocket, and just before I go into the cook, I'll give it a little kiss, put it in my pocket.
"I'm running and going crazy thinking about what I'm going to cook, and it's quite intense, but there is a moment right before when I'm like, 'Hey Miles, let's do this," shares Tommy.
"I've got a little polaroid of him that I put in my pocket." (Image: Instagram)
Anyone who has or knows a toddler is aware they can be the pickiest eaters, but the mostly self-taught cook has a relaxed approach that works for him when it comes to feeding Miles.
"I like to let Miles be free to an extent unless he's throwing all of your food on the floor like he can throw half his food on the floor, and then I'll give him a limit.
"I don't try to control too much. I like to give him free choice, especially when eating. I will give him all the options that we're eating, and if he doesn't eat it, it's fine," he says.
Although Tommy has returned to the competition as a Favourite, he is intimidated by his fellow contestants who have more experience.
Tommy felt scared returning to the show with Favourites who have more experience than him. (Image: Ten)
"The intensity is so different with all the returning favourites. They all know what it's like on the outside and they have all so much experience.
"It's scary, honestly, sometimes going up against these guys, I'm like, 'How am I ever going to beat them?' But you know you go in there and do what you do best and hope that it's enough," he shares with TV WEEK.
It's not all scary, though. Tommy already has a rapport with the show's three judges, Melissa Leong, Andy Allen, and Jock Zonfrillo.
And it seems like he had a calming effect on them too.
"It was almost like seeing a friend again. It was really really nice," he says about seeing them again.

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