MasterChef Australia series three Top 10 contestant Peter Vickery.
MasterChef Australia series three Top 10 contestant Peter Vickery.

Peter ready for a sea change

IT HAS been a dramatic week for MasterChef’s latest evictee Peter Vickery.

The 50-year-old Sydney native found himself in the losing team less than 24 hours after fellow contestant Mat Beyer’s dramatic exit from the competition and Billy Law’s unexpected return.

“It was a very dramatic time in the house. None of us knew it was coming,” said Vickery.

“They did a search. We’d been told this would be a regular thing because a number of things you can’t have in the house. It looks dramatic on TV because it was bloody dramatic. Mat left so quickly. We got to give him a hug and say goodbye. It was a big shock and then Billy walks in. None of us were expecting that, and we were all looking down the barrel of getting up at 5.30am for the challenge.”

Despite having the odds stacked in their favour, Vickery’s blue team lost to the red team in a stressful challenge featuring British super-chef Marco Pierre White.

“The team were really cocky too,” he said.

“I kept on saying ‘never underestimate the underdog’. Australia loves an underdog. They’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Vickery said White was surprisingly kind, until service started.

“All I knew about him was that he was the guy who made Gordon Ramsay angry,” he said.

“I thought ‘Gee he’s got to be really scary’ but when he was in the kitchen with us he wasn’t scary at all. He was softly spoken and really helpful, but when that pass opened it was like all hell broke loose. Imagine two hours of that man yelling.”

He then lost out in a three-round pressure test against his team mates, except team captain Dani Venn who used her immunity pin, where they had to demonstrate the techniques of making rice paper rolls, perfectly cooking rib eye beef and baking an apple pie with custard.

Since leaving the show Vickery has realised his goal of a sea change, moving from Sydney to the Hunter Valley where he is working at Muse restaurant.

“It’s one of the best regional restaurants in the state,” he said.

“They’re about to open another restaurant in about a month’s time, so it’s a really interesting time to be with them and see something open from the ground up. I consider this time to be a continuing education from the MasterChef experience.

"By the time I was going I was happy to go. I was ready to make the next step. The last few weeks I felt like I was treading water."

The former account manager is also meeting local growers as he works to set up his own business to market and distribute rare and heirloom produce.

“I’m trying to bring all of those guys under the one banner and allow them to make their cheese or olive oil without having to find a retail outlet,” he said.

With only eight contestants remaining, Vickery reckons it’s anyone’s game but he does have a few favourites.

“I can only say the people I worked with in challenges and in the kitchen at home, who I know to be talented, resourceful chefs. Hayden (Quinn), Kate (Bracks), Billy and Dani are all imaginative and good on their feet,” he said.

“They’ve got a lot of experience to draw on, so they’re my guesses. But it’s kind of a horse race…it could be anyone.”

Tonight, MasterChef favourites from series one and two – Alvin Quah, Andre Ursini and Jimmy Seervai – join Gary Calombaris and George Mehigan in the kitchen. Then two lucky contestants head to Wellington for a private MasterClass.

MasterChef Australia airs Sundays to Fridays at 7.30pm on Ten.

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