Aaron Sanders may have just missed out on making the top ten on MasterChef Australia 2021, but the 34-year-old insurance manager has no regrets about his time in the kitchen.
In an Instagram post uploaded following his elimination, Sanders described the experience as “a magical, crazy, fun & life-changing opportunity that I will never forget and always be grateful for. I have never been happier and feeling more full in my heart.”
Speaking to The Latch the day after his eviction episode aired, Sanders revealed what life has been like since his time on the popular reality show.
“I’ve been working with a mate on a project called Heaps Local, where we are promoting everything South Australia, working with local producers to talk about their story, why they do what they do and how they do it…and then cooking amazing food!
Reflecting on his final cook of coconut fried prawns, lime and chilli mayo and a pineapple and peanut salsa — which saw him eliminated just shy of the top ten, Sanders revealed what he wishes he had done differently.
“I definitely wish I’d cooked the lamb,” he said. “I think I probably could have done a better dish. Or instead of doing the salsa, there were beautiful ingredients to make an amazing salad that would have complemented the prawns perfectly.”
Overall though, the aspiring chef explained that mindset has everything to do with what ends up on the plate and he was just in the right place for the final cook.
“The pressure of the kitchen is definitely real. That bubble becomes your life for the time that you’re on the show,” he said.
“And on a bad day, you can definitely see it on the plate — it’s just not who you are. We throw our heart and soul into every dish, and when you’re not right, you can see that.”
Speaking about mindsets and not feeling right brought our conversation to the exit of his friend and fellow cook Brent Draper, who left the series in order to look after his mental health. Sanders commended Draper for taking such a step and revealed that his advocacy for men’s mental health comes from a very personal place.
“I definitely don’t want to take away from Brent’s moment. That was really important for him and it just shows that while this is an amazing competition to be a part of, putting his own mental state and mental health was really important,” said Sanders.
He continued, “Mental health has been really massive for me throughout my life — my tattoos are all representative of my battles with mental health problems throughout my early 20s. And coming out the other side of that I really want to be able to help others do great things.
“I’m really glad that Brent is doing fantastic now. That was a really big moment, and it just showed that there’s more to life than what we were doing.”
Offering advice for those who are hoping to apply for MasterChef Australia 2022, Sanders said: “If you are even slightly thinking about it, I hope that you put your hand up, be yourself and just show how much you love food. It is the best experience in the world, and you’ll certainly not regret it.”