Reece Hignell Has "No Regrets" With MasterChef Journey
"These people but in reality they become your family."
The pressures of the MasterChef kitchen are pretty obvious, with the giant foreboding clock hanging over the competitors as they race from the pantry to the garden attempting to create dishes of a high enough quality to keep them in the competition.
But on Thursday's episode, Reece faced a less obvious pressure: cooking against one of his best mates in the competition, Jess.
"It was really hard," Reece told ten daily about having to face off against Jess in the third round of elimination challenges.
"When you're away from your family for so long, you're meant to be competing with these people but in reality they become your family."
Still, the pair were forced to battle it out in one of the most emotional eliminations yet, both vying for the last position in the top five of Season 10.
Despite being known for his sweet dishes, Reece said he had no regrets deciding to go savoury for his final dish, while Jess played to her strengths and created a sweet dish.
"By this point in the competition I had been winning challenges with both savoury and sweet," Reece said, "I could have done a sweet dish but it would have been things I had done before, so I was a bit more excited to cook savoury because I could show more difference".
Reece also explained how difficult it is when you get to the pointy end of the competition, saying the judges are forced to nitpick at dishes when the chefs are producing such high quality dishes.
"If we made these dishes earlier they would have been good, but at that stage they have to find the little bits that are the difference between who stays and who goes."
He also told ten daily that the competition's unique environment was surreal, due to the stress and the close bonds made throughout the show.
"It's weird," he explained, "you give techniques and recipes to your competitors which is at your detriment in a way, but while you're there it's the obvious thing to do."
"The show isn't the type to pit people against each other so we share a lot of information and we're just excited to live together. When you all share a hobby, it's all you want to talk about."
After leaving MasterChef Reece has spent time working in a kitchen near Newcastle. "Professional kitchens are actually less stressful," he told us.
"You're feeding paying customers, so there is stress but the judges in our minds were the biggest critiques in Australia, so we were prepared for that," he explained.
The 28-year-old has been working, planning a pop-up in Newcastle, and teaching classes as well as collaborating with Season 1 winner Julie Goodwin. Though it was never his ultimate goal, his time on MasterChef inspired him to spend more time teaching people about his love of food.
"When I came to the show we would all do training with each other, because we all have our own expertise. When I taught some classes I was surprised at what tips and tricks help people if they haven't had that experience."
"We have skills that people want to know and learn... and it's really nice to think like that."