All good things come to an end but for Reece Hignell, being eliminated from the MasterChef kitchen on Sunday night is just the beginning.
The popular Mayfield contestant was up against Emelia Jackson, Laura Sharrad and Callum Hann in an elimination round overseen by judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen as well as special guests Kirsten Tibballs, Darren Purchese, Shannon Martinez, Matt Stone, Jo Barrett and Peter Gunn.
Reynold Poer had the immunity pin and watched the cook-off from the safety of the gantry.
The contestants each drew a course from a hat and the vegan Hignell rejoiced at having chosen the vegetable entree. He decided on a dish based on the classic pairing of beetroot and goats' cheese, but with pickled and roasted beetroot as well as goats' cheese mousse and a chocolate and hazelnut crumb.
"I had this incredible vegetarian starter at Margan last year - a delicious sweet beetroot dish - and I played on that by adding goats' cheese and chocolate and honey, all the flavours that I love in desserts and in savoury dishes," he told the Newcastle Herald.
"I just went for it. I felt I had proven to the judges on previous occasions that I could create a winning dish when pushed out of my comfort zone. I wanted my last dishes to represent me but ultimately I think they found it a bit too safe."
Hignell was blindsided when told he was going home.
"I gave them what they wanted with that potato dessert and they were floored by it," he said.
"I was like 'I've won challenges with savoury, a curry - I've done what you want from me, now I just want to do what I want'. I thought that because I'd shown them I could win all the different types of challenges, I could revert back to my preferred style of classic cooking. Ultimately that was my undoing."
Hignell ended up finishing fifth in the all-star season 12, which was one better than his season 10 effort. And although rightly proud of this achievement, he is disappointed he didn't make the top three.
"When I found out I was leaving Mel asked me something and I was so shocked I just stood there, I didn't know what to say," he said.
"Normally the judges have a very structured presentation when someone is eliminated but they went rogue with me and made me feel very valued. As much as I was upset, it was a beautiful moment."
Hignell has already sold out cooking events in Sydney and Newcastle and is planning more. It's no surprise, given the cheeky cook's popularity with viewers and his many Kath & Kim references.
"The first time I was on MasterChef I was overwhelmed by the whole process but this time I was more comfortable in my skin, had fun and came across as myself on television," he said.
"It's so funny, the other night I was at home having a few wines with a friend and Poh [Ling Yeow] FaceTimed me. I answered and it was actually Magda Szubanski and she goes 'Reece, I just wanted to let you know that you are very noice'."
Hignell is run off his feet with Cakeboi, his cake-making business, and hopes to open a shopfront in Newcastle in the next six months.
"Now is just the start of it all. Now it gets exciting," he said.