TOM Rutledge, the first contestant eliminated from MasterChef’s Top 24, found it hard to feel competitive against his good friend Kumar Pereira last night.
Rutledge, 29, and Pereira, 62, quickly became friends after meeting at the NSW auditions for the third series of the top-rating cooking show.
“Kumar is a great mate of mine, right down to when I turned up to the first audition and we sat down next to each other,” said Rutledge.
“I couldn’t have lost to a better guy. I don’t think there was that true competitive spirit between us. We both wanted the other to succeed.”
Rutledge says up until his elimination there was no palpable competitiveness between the Top 24.
“We were all really good friends,” he said.
“I think we were getting on too well. The judges were saying to us ‘this isn’t a holiday’. I think they were happy to engineer a bit of tension.”
Rutledge put his hand up for the elimination cook-off after being the captain of the losing red team in Wednesday’s bread baking challenge.
The former general manager from Sydney failed to impress the judges with his three dishes – baklava, tempura prawn and vegetables and Mexican chicken wings – during last night’s 90-minute cook-off.
“Not having a recipe was the most challenging, and the baklava had the most technical complexity out of the three,” he said.
He did not want to be the first from the Top 24 eliminated, but doesn’t regret putting himself on the chopping block.
“It was frustrating more than anything to get so far and then be the first one out,” he said.
“I was all set up for being there for a long haul. It was strange. I had a farewell party and less than a week later I was home.”
Rutledge has turned his elimination into an opportunity by finally taking the leap into starting his own business – an internet-based home delivery gourmet grocery store.
“It’s called Mr Perkins and Co and we’re two weeks away from launch,” he said.
“I’m basically selling meal boxes containing fresh local, seasonal produce that is precisely measured up and home delivered.”
In tonight’s first MasterClass, judge Gary Mehigan is joined by guest chef Justin North.
MasterChef Australia airs Sundays through Fridays at 7.30pm on Ten.
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