MasterChef's Eric on what judges are really like behind-the-scenes

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

MasterChef bid farewell to another talented cook on Tuesday night with Eric Mao, 21, being sent home after failing to impress with his version of Clinton McIver's aged lamb with flowering legumes and native spiced butter.

The amateur chefs were blindfolded while they tasted and smelled the dish and were then given a recipe so they could cook it themselves.

MasterChef star Eric Mao
MasterChef star Eric Mao is the most recent amateur chef to be sent home. Photo: Ten

However, Eric made a crucial error early on by taking too much fat off his lamb, which wouldn't give it the correct texture for the dish.

The judges thought Eric's dish was the furthest away from Clinton's original dish and decided it was time to say goodbye.


Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Eric shared that he had a "gut feeling" it would be him going home, despite the fact he was wearing his so-called "lucky pants".

Of the dish, Eric said, "Yeah, it was such an emotionally fraught cook. I felt quite raw and delivering it to the judges, you know, I was sort of deflated at that point. 

masterchef judge melissa leong
Mel was clearly emotional when telling Eric he would be going home. Photo: Ten

"I mean I wanted to just give it to them and by that time I had a breath of levity back in me because I kind of had a feeling that it was going to be the dish that was going to send me home."

By the time he heard it was him, it wasn't a shock, "I wasn't surprised or anything, but that final blow was hard because it was sort of crushing to know that that would be my last week in the kitchen."

Speaking of the judges, Eric spilled some behind-the-scenes info, revealing what they're like when the cameras aren't rolling.

"It's not that obvious, but they have really great chemistry off-camera, they're really close with each other, they all have a great bond. That's something that you don't actually see, I don't think it's that obvious," he tells us.

masterchef judges andy allen, melissa leong and jock zonfillo
Eric revealed some behind-the-scenes gossip about what the judges are actually like on set. Photo: Ten

The young chef also shared another behind-the-scenes secret, revealing tastings actually take much longer than what they appear like on TV.

"It surprised me how thorough the tastings are," he said. "They really give you a really good amount of critique. The judges really want you to learn from every single cook you have in the kitchen. They really want you to do well so that's really heartwarming to see that they actually care so much."

He added, "I reckon each person would get a solid 15 minutes. Tastings would take a really long time, but we'd all be really grateful."

Eric added that to ensure dishes are served as they should be to the judges they are either warmed up or cooled down before each chef's tasting.

"Also, right after our cook, the judges come out and taste our food fresh as well [before the official judging]."

Speaking of the newly announced Celebrity MasterChef, Eric said he'd love to see Cate Blanchett cooking for the judges, "She is one of my Australian idols, so let's make it happen!"

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