Heartbreaking reason why MasterChef favourite is 'missing' from redemption episode

Fans were shocked to learn the beloved cook chose not to return.

MasterChef season 16 cast looking shocked.
MasterChef fans have noticed a fan favourite contestant is missing from Wednesday night’s second-chance cook. Photo: Channel 10

The eliminated contestants from season 16 of MasterChef Australia are set to return to the kitchen in Wednesday night’s episode for the much-anticipated second-chance cook, where one lucky person will re-enter the competition. While viewers have been looking forward to this redemption episode all season, especially given how many fan favourites have been sent home in recent weeks, they’ve been left disappointed following the release of a new teaser.

A promo video shared to the official MasterChef Instagram page shows all but one of the eliminated contestants walking back into the kitchen, with shark tooth-wearing Stephen Dennis, aka Steve, noticeably missing. The 62-year-old tour guide was only recently sent home during Sunday night’s elimination, so fans were understandably surprised they couldn't spot him in the teaser.


“Is Steve there?” one person commented, while another added, “Where is Steve!?”.

“Why is Steve not back?” a third wrote, followed by someone else who said, “Guessing Steve declined unless I’m blind”.

“Hope Snez [Calic] gets back in but super gutted about Stephen,” a different user replied.

MasterChef's Stephen Dennis.
Stephen Dennis chose not to return for family reasons. Photos: Channel 10

In a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle on Wednesday, Steve revealed that he decided not to return to the kitchen for the second-chance cook because he needed to take care of his mother Dahlas.

“My mother is in hospital and is very unwell,” he said. “My father passed away during Covid, so I need to support my mother and it would be unfair on my family to return to filming with this in mind.”

Fellow eliminated contestant Juan De La Cruz shared an Instagram Story on Wednesday afternoon sending his well wishes to Steve and his mum, writing: “I’ll miss you tonight @stevowildchef. Take care of your mum.”


Before competing in season 16, Steve had originally applied and was even accepted to appear in the show’s inaugural season in 2009. The home cook ended up having to turn down the offer when a cyclone prevented him from travelling and a very adventurous life kept him from appearing on the reality show until now.

The father-of-two credits his love for cooking to his mum, who gifted him the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook at age 18, and his dream is to open a small restaurant called Table For 8ight.

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