MasterChef's Brendan Pang opens up about enormous post-show success

Season 10 and season 12 star Brendan Pang reflects on his time on the show and future plans.

Video transcript

BRENDAN PANG: Sometimes I get so stuck in my Perth bubble. But it's like, "MasterChef Australia" is huge worldwide.


So I applied for MasterChef because I think that, within my family at that time, there was a shift from just the careers that we all had into food. So just before I had made the decision to apply, my uncle left engineering and started his own food business. So he started a cafe. Mom left retail and started her own cake business from home. And then I was living in Broome, being a social worker, and not really enjoying it. And then the opportunity came up to apply and I just took it. I was like, I'm just going to try. Like, what's-- yeah. I don't really have much to lose. And then the rest is-- the rest is history.

I didn't know what to expect when I got on. Like, you just watched snippets here and there on TV and it looks very stressful. And it looks like it's, like, not achievable, what they do on TV. But it is all that and more. Like, it is just as stressful as what it is-- probably more, to be honest.

So yeah, I had no expectations. But I think when you go into the competition, you just push yourself in and surround yourself by-- just this environment where you just want to learn so much and cook and do as best as you can, so--

Being on the season was-- I thought, for me, it was a good time in my life because I didn't have really much holding me back. Like, I had just left my job and my house in Broome. I wasn't tied down by anything like a relationship or work, really. So I kind of just gave it my all. And I was still quite young as well. Like, I am still quite young, but that was like how many years ago? That's 2018. So I kind of just gave it my all. And I think leaving the show then, I was still so young and ignorant to, like, the outside world. But it kind of worked in my favor because I was so willing to just do anything and everything after the show. I put myself out there, get experience in different kitchens and with different businesses and with other chefs, and just see where it would take me.

Yeah, I was quite lucky. I think my family were probably my biggest support. And coming from a family of business people and entrepreneurs, that was quite helpful in the sense of me just being out there and trying to do my thing. Like, I had so much advice from my stepdad, from my mom, from other family members. And family members that have started to work in hospitality, so it kind of naturally, for me-- like, the shift into food worked so, so seamlessly.

Probably like 25% opportunities that come your way. And 75% of the opportunities that people would think that have come my way probably from putting myself out there, continuing to want to be in the food industry and have something for myself. Because I know very easily, like with a lot of contestants that have been on, like, you can very much slip back into your old career and lifestyle if you'd like to.

I had started my business, Bumplings, back in Fremantle, in Perth. And to leave that, to leave everything and kind of just put yourself back in that quite stressful environment is a lot to think about. But I know how important-- how much the show have looked after me and how much I enjoyed it, the process and the friends that I made. So I kind of weighed that up and I thought it would be silly of me to pass up that opportunity.

It was good. It was very different. It was quite refreshing. I think we had the new judges come on for their first time, so it was like a different energy on the show. It was great having, like, my friends Reece and Jess back on as well with me. So we had heaps of fun. And for me, it was a chance to show Australia what I had been working on in the past couple of years since I had been on in season 10.

I think starting my own food business was probably quite, like, a massive highlight. It's a lot easier said than done. Like, it's something that I thought about for such a long time and was putting off. But then I just-- I bit the bullet and was like, I'm going to I'm going to do this. And it was hard work. Like, hospitality is a hard game to be in. I remember putting heaps of hours in.

But yeah, it's at a point now where I'm quite happy with it. I've got a great team that it's surrounded by. And then just building on that dumpling brand and business too. Like, I've got my own product down in Woolworths, my own frozen dumplings. I've written-- I'm writing my third book, actually, at the moment. So yeah, lots has happened.

So much has happened since 2018. Like, I know it's-- what is it, like five years? And I've done so much in five years. But even in, like-- I was in Singapore on the weekend and I was at a bookshop just looking for something else, and I saw my book was in there. And I was like, this is actually insane. Like, every now and then, it just is like a massive pinch-me moment that, like, it is-- it's not just like a-- sometimes I get so stuck in my Perth bubble. But it's like "MasterChef Australia" is huge worldwide, and it's given me so much opportunity to do some great stuff.

I would say I'm most grateful for the personal growth that it has helped kind of facilitate over the years, yeah. Like, I don't know. If I had not gone on, I'm sure, career-wise, I would have been the kind of person to still push myself and do something for myself. But just on a personal level, like, the growth that it's provided me has been huge.

What do I want to tick off? Well, I kind of have started to tick it off, was traveling a lot more. I think COVID was-- and being so young, like, I hadn't really been outside of Australia much. And I'm trying to do that more and, like, see the world, and work as well, where I can.

What else is on my bucket list? Hopefully, expand my Bumplings business and my dumpling business so that, like, other people in Australia can have it as well. It's not that you just have to come to Perth for it. So we'll see how we go there. And getting my frozen dumplings out there. I think that's quite an exciting thing, and just getting more people educated around, like, frozen dumplings. Because mine are-- I think I've put so much effort into the quality of them and the freshness and the local ingredients. Yeah, just getting that out there.

My advice to contestants coming off the show would be to, I think, keep an open mind coming off, and a great attitude in terms of where you want to go with it all. Like, it's not just about receiving opportunities like that. Like, you need to put yourself out there. Cook the food that you really like. Like, I think for me, that was my biggest thing, not trying to be something that I didn't want to be or didn't feel naturally was who I was. And yeah, and just have fun. Like, don't take things so so to heart. Yeah.

I mean, like, be passionate about it. But like, it's also quite an exciting and new kind of experience and journey. So for people coming off, I'd say just to embrace it all and take it all in.