Ben Trobbiani Just Wants You To Know A Duck Is No Lobster
"If you put lobster and duck in the same category... I'm going to put a big question mark over that."
Following his elimination on Thursday night, we caught up with Ben to discuss the huge question hanging over his time in the 'MasterChef' kitchen: Why'd he go for the duck?
"Duck isn't that expensive!" Ben told 10 daily with a laugh, "You can get a duck breast for like $8. Lobsters are like $100, a duck is like $15!"
The elimination challenge tasked the five chefs to hero ingredients that are the most commonly thrown-out in Australia -- milk, bananas, lettuce and bread. Gary's advice to the contestants was to avoid running into the pantry and grabbing a lobster.
"I can't really explain it," Ben said, "I had a dish in mind, it's a dish I practised before and when I saw the radicchio I thought, just do the first thing that comes to mind.
"In the 'MasterChef' kitchen, I was thinking deliciousness always comes first. It was definitely the wrong decision."
Once the judges came around to let Ben know they weren't thrilled with his choice of protein, things began to unravel. "George and Gary coming over right at that end stage really threw me," he said, "I just thought... sh*t. You've made so many mistakes in the actual conceptualising." Ben Trobbiani
Not only was the challenge something close to Ben's own cooking ethos, reducing waste and focusing on sustainable cooking, but the world's top chef -- Massimo Bottura -- was a guest judge.
It was a similar challenge to one Ben excelled in, where his cauliflower with macadamia nut and Kaiserfleisch wowing the judges. Instead of focusing on the key ingredients of this challenge, Ben decided to go another route.
"My downfall was trying to do something fancy," Ben admitted before rattling off every little detail he would have tweaked in the cook. "Everyone obsesses over [their own elimination cook]," he said, "you can't not obsess over it."
Having the energy of Massimo in the kitchen was another huge element to the cook. "He has a different way of how he uses food. He's so creative, just getting a little bit of inspiration from that," Ben said, "it would be great to cook with him outside the 'MasterChef' kitchen or just have a conversation with him!"
When Bottura was in his early 20s he was studying law before putting his studies on hold to open Trattoria del Campazzo just outside Modena.
"He went through a similar journey a lot of us did, from one career into cooking," Ben said, adding, "He's really inspirational to a lot of us."
And while he admits grabbing the duck was "definitely the wrong decision," Ben also admitted seeing family in the Wednesday's team challenge had shaken him up a little.
"Coming into the kitchen was different. I felt like my head wasn't in it," he said. "'MasterChef' is such an emotional rollercoaster and you're always on edge. I never feel anxious in my real life but I always felt anxious going into that kitchen."
One thing that probably helped Ben feel a little calmer was his collection of signature party shirts. It was almost impossible not to spot Ben throughout the season as he showcased his collection of 13 party shirts.
The cynics among us would believe it was a gimmick to make sure he was noticed by the cameras, but Ben assured us it was anything but.
"If it was a gimmick... it should have gotten me more screen time!" He said, laughing. "I hate any kind of idea that it might be [a gimmick]. It wasn't a pre-thought out thing," he added, "I always wear party shirts on weekends and my time off!"
Coming on the show he knew his wardrobe would go either one of two ways, "It would either be accepted... or hated by all of Australia."
"I tell you what, the top nine is going to be pretty boring wardrobe-wise from now on."
(To be fair to Ben, he thought for a moment before recounting the top nine contestants who do dabble in the occasional party shirt.)
It was also suggested he could perhaps look into a limited range of 'party aprons', but he woefully admitted his connections in the apron world weren't up to scratch.
"I've been looking for [party aprons] for cooking demos but they don't exist! They're all like really grandma-style. I don't have any ties in the apron industry," he said.
While hunting for the perfect party apron is one thing, Ben's also working on a few projects, cooking demos, a pop-up as well as showcasing foods he loves he wasn't able to necessarily demonstrate in the 'MasterChef' kitchen.
"For me, to be delicious, food doesn't have to be expensive or exuberant," Ben said, "If you've got a peasant style ragu made of offcuts or a fantastic sausage from meat usually thrown away, that's the stuff that really excites me."
Over on his social media accounts, Ben hopes to show various techniques, "Like low and slow, smoked meats and barbecue stuff," that are impossible to pull off with 'MasterChef's time constraints in challenges.
He's also hoping to introduce Aussies to South Australia's seasonal produce, and native Australian ingredients they may not have had before at his upcoming pop-up so stay tuned, and keep your eyes peeled for those shirts.
Featured image: Network 10.