'I'll Stick To Cooking Food In A Paddock': Hayden Quinn Eliminated From MasterChef: Back To Win
It was one of the toughest weeks in MasterChef history, with twists thrown at the chefs each day to keep them on their toes.
After the joyous relief of Katy Perry's surprise appearance this week, the returning chefs had been lulled into a false sense of security before Sunday's elimination cook, but the judges had one more twist stashed up their sleeves.
With Poh safe on the gantry after winning immunity this week, the judges announced the remaining chefs would be entering a head-to-head challenge, cooking against the chef sharing their bench.
Each bench also had a cloche which dictated a certain cuisine each pair would have to cook, with BFFs Reece and Brendan cooking Spanish, Callum and Simon cooking French, Laura and Emelia cooking Japanese, Tessa and Jess cooking Vietnamese, Reynold and Sarah Clare cooking American, Khanh and Sarah Tiong cooking Italian and Hayden and Tracy cooking Chinese.
At the end of round one, Tessa, Sarah Tiong, Brendan, Sarah Clare, Hayden and Callum were deemed the weaker dishes of the pairs and had to fight once again for their place in the competition. Sadly for Hayden, it was his time to farewell the kitchen.
Though the challenge was to hero one of five classic flavour pairings, the judges felt like Hayden's dish pushed his pairing of horseradish and beetroot to the side, making his beef rolls the hero instead.
"MasterChef is such an amazing opportunity, it's a little bit addictive, the adrenaline rush, all that is suddenly very hard to say no to," Hayden told 10 daily over the phone.
Standing in the middle of a goat paddock, filming the second season of his series Taste Of Australia, even discussing one of the toughest weeks in the kitchen Hayden maintained his signature chill demeanour.
"Twist week was gnarly," he said with a laugh, "But I feel like MasterChef is always twist week though. You never really know what's coming."
The other wild part of coming back to the MasterChef kitchen was the reveal that only one chef would be safe each week, making almost everyone vulnerable at least once a week.
"I don't think anyone expected that to be the case," Hayden said, "No one's safe. Everyone's just as vulnerable as the next person and that's particularly important when everyone is such a good cook.
"The pressure was definitely difficult, but you find support in each other," he added.
Then, as if to prove a point about releasing pressure, Hayden went quiet, apologised and explained: "Sorry I just had one of the team yelling at me, asking if he could go for a wee in the middle of the paddock." Then, back to his mate, "That seagull's looking at you!
"Um, yeah. Twist week was wild.
"Again, you don't know what you've got coming when you walk into that kitchen. Going head-to-head is always tough but...it's a competition, not a love-in. People have to go home and, unfortunately, this week it was me."
Back To Win marks Hayden's third go in the MasterChef kitchen having first competed in Season 3 and returning for All Stars 2012.
"I probably wouldn't do it again if I got asked to do, like, MasterChef 2050 for the retirement village," he said, adding, "I think my time in the MasterChef kitchen is very much over, I'll stick to cooking food in a goat paddock."
Hayden was the last chef eliminated before the show would be overhauled to fit regulations coming into place amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not only a chef and the host of Taste of Australia, but Hayden also co-owns a gym on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
"The week I got eliminated was the week we had to close the gym," he said. "That was like 24/7 working our arses off not to close the business. We had to find a way to pay the bills and keep our staff employed and our members happy.
"That was my role, to work with the team and the boys there to make this business happen," he said explaining that the gym began to offer online classes and has only just been able to introduce outdoor training sessions to members.
Before the doors of the MasterChef kitchen had barely had time to shut, Hayden launched straight back into pre-production on the second season of Taste of Australia.
"I've been fortunate that we’ve been filming through most of it, so keeping busy, but obviously filming scenarios are a little bit different these days," he said. "When you meet someone new you can’t give them a handshake, you’ve got to stand a meter apart and, it’s been a little different but we're still trucking on and working hard.
"I've got lots going on," he said, laughing, "it's always busy for me but I've got an incredible team of people I get to work with every day, I'm fortunate that they were all willing to work hard and support all the different businesses and ventures.
"We have a lot of fun doing it. That's the main thing."