EXCLUSIVE: 'So harsh!' MasterChef's Minoli on brutal elimination

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

MasterChef fans were left heartbroken on Sunday night when Minoli De Silva was sent home only a few weeks into the competition, with many believing she'd make it through to the final round of the show.

The contestants were tasked with cooking a dish that would fit on the menus of returning stars Poh, Callum and Reynold.

MasterChef's Minoli De Silva
MasterChef's Minoli De Silva was sent home on Sunday night and has opened up about her brutal elimination. Photo: Ten

Minoli presented a sesame-crusted steak with a daikon yuzu dressing and pickled radish and as she walked her dish to the judges, it was clear she was nervous and sadly, it had too many different flavours to get her through to the next round.

While it was a tough blow, the 34-year-old remained positive about her experience on the show, telling Yahoo Lifestyle it's all about how you perform on the day, not how you've performed throughout the competition.

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"I was really sad to go home, but I honestly was in a state of shock when Callum, Poh and Reynold walked in because I loved them all and I was fangirling so hard and I really, in hindsight, should have channelled that excitement and been like, 'Yes, I'm going to smash out something I'm really good at,' and focus and play to my strengths," she said.

But it was Andy Allen's words when announcing who would be going home that hit hard.

Masterchef Judge Andy Allen
Judge Andy Allen's words before eliminating Minoli hit hard. Photo: Ten

"This challenge was about three things," he said. "Number one: designing a dish that would fit on one of these three menus. Number two, make whatever that dish is delicious. Number three, execute it perfectly... One dish missed all three, that dish belonged to Minoli.”

When asked how she felt about those remarks, Minoli responded, "It was so harsh! It was so harsh, I think that I was in such a state of shock, because think of how many people there were in that cook, there were 21, two people used their pins, it was a lot of high energy, it was 90 minutes of cooking. And 90 minutes for me, generally I don't cook for that long in the kitchen, even though I do like cooking for dinner parties, but on a day to day basis, I'll just whip up something in 30 minutes to an hour. 

"And I think I overthought it and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I've got 90 minutes, how do I fill in the time?' And in the end, I should have realised that just because I cook quickly, it doesn't mean that I shouldn't play to my strengths and just because I find something easy, doesn't mean I shouldn't have done it.

"But my parting words for everyone else were, 'Stay authentic. Stay true to yourself and cook what you love, because you really are unstoppable if you're cooking with your heart.'"

Minoli shared how big of a deal it was for her to get onto the show, calling it "a testament to my courage" after battling breast cancer a few years ago. Treatment for the disease even meant she lost her taste buds for two years before they finally returned.

Minoli was cooking a dish on Masterchef
Minoli was cooking a dish that would fit in at Callum's restaurant, but he and Melissa didn't seem so sure of her dish. Photo: Ten

"I had about six months of chemotherapy, and that knocks your body around quite a lot. One of the side effects is that you just have basically a metallic taste in your mouth and can't taste much food. 

"I couldn't eat my mum's curry because it really tasted bad. And I had to eat things like plain rice and watermelon. And over time, I guess maybe about two years in total, slowly, slowly started to function like normal and that metallic taste left my mouth. 

"But as it did I could reintroduce flavours into my cooking repertoire. And it was like, trying food for the first time, I can't actually describe how it feels because it's like, you're trying a new cuisine for the first time, except I'm trying things that I know, that I've already tried and tasted but now tasting all the nuances of the flavour in that meal or food, and it's incredible to be so aware of what you're eating. It makes the eating experience so much better."

She continued, "But one thing I learned through, going through treatment was the best things in life come when you're being vulnerable and courageous. And this was a perfect opportunity to kind of push myself out of my comfort zone again. Leave the career that I have spent my whole adult life working towards, to really follow my passion. And I think when you follow your passion, there's nothing really that can stop you, that's what I'm telling myself!"

There have been some hints online that Minoli could return to the show, but the chef played coy about a possible comeback.

"Oh my gosh, that would be amazing. Yeah, not really sure how it's going to pan out. But can you imagine? Oh my god, I'd be like, 'Yes! Second chance!' But yeah, I'm actually focusing on what I'm doing now outside [of the show]. 

"I'm going to start up a YouTube and start putting up everything that I know, everything that I've learned in my whole life, I'm going to, hopefully, teach everyone else how to cook like I do, because I actually don't think it's that hard. It just takes a little bit of confidence. And I'm going to give away all my secrets!"

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