SEAN Baxter might have finished his reality television journey tonight, but he's far from done with his cooking dream.
Once a farm boy - and even a Gympie Times intern - Baxter was the seventh MasterChef Australia contestant to be eliminated in the show tonight, after a pasta dish that just couldn't be pulled together.
It was an unfortunate departure from his stand-out squid ink pasta with vongole audition dish and his beef and veg dish which paid homage to his cattleman father John back home.
But despite the elimination, there's been little in the way of disappointment for Sean since the show.
The MasterChef experience has not only inspired him in the kitchen, but boosted his work too.
As brand manager for Reserve Brands, Sean has taken his passion for a well-cooked dish into his workplace and now puts food first when selling whiskey brands to clients.
Using food as the main angle when pairing it with a whiskey can give diners and drinkers and new take on the spirit.
"It's a great way of people discovering a different way of (drinking) whiskey," he said.
A whiskey /oyster combination was one of his favourites he said, as the flavours of a smoky whiskey were the perfect accompaniment to the salty taste and creamy texture of oysters.
Also on Sean's list of suggestions was whiskey with salted caramel macaroons or dark chocolate or even paired with blue cheese and honey.
Dining for him was all about appreciating the "special" elements and experiences that come when enjoying an evening of fine dining.
"I think mum taught me (to appreciate) the special occasion and surprises of the meal."
Attention to detail and creativity could lift a meal to an experience by offering the diner special and unexpected elements, he said.
Heston Blumenthal was an inspiration, as he was "one of the leaders" in that kind of cooking.
Sean was proud to have made it as far as he did in the show as a busy lifestyle meant he found little time to enjoy the kitchen at home. He said he initially doubted whether his experience would match up to other contestants.
Searching for a recipe and cooking up a feast was one of his favourite things to do, and while he admitted that might not have helped him when facing a MasterChef mystery box challenge, it certainly was enjoyed at home.
"When I cook, it's a real event."
And one of his favourite times to get busy in the kitchen is when he comes home to Gympie to cook for his family, brothers and sisters and all.
"I love to come home to Gympie," he said.
"It's such a special thing to come home; it's relaxing."
And where does he go when hunting for ingredients in Gympie?
"The fruit and veg at the markets at Gympie are always really, really, top-notch."
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