Ask any MasterChef champ and they will tell you the same thing: it’s a whirlwind winning TV’s biggest cooking contest.
After winning MasterChef on Wednesday night he spent Thursday in relentless, back to back media commitments.
When I spoke to Allen at around 4:30pm yesterday I asked him about the last 36 hours of his life, starting with the filming of the judges’ verdict in the MasterChef Kitchen on Wednesday morning.
“We finished filming the reveal at about midday and then we went into lockdown and handed in our phones,” he said.
“At about 3:00 we had a barbecue and a nice beer or two then we all watched the show when it went to air.
“By the time we said ‘See you later’ to everyone it was about 10:30. I have a few mates in Sydney and they were beaming so I went and had a beer with them and was home by about midnight.
“Then it was a 5:30am start and I literally haven’t stopped.”
Allen went through the ringer of radio interviews, The Circle, press interviews, a live blog and The Project.
“I have The Project tonight, tomorrow I fly home. I was meant to have a meeting with the publisher of my book to suss out what goes on there. But I think I’m free now so I’m going to catch up with a few of my friends and family in Sydney and go out for dinner then head home to Newcastle on Saturday.”
What kind of cookbook will it be?
“I’m not 100% sure which is why I want to meet with the publishers. Obviously my progression was pretty substantial throughout the competition because I went from being a pretty average cook to winning it. So I guess I would love to see the food that I cooked before MasterChef and work on that and the food I was cooking during MasterChef and maybe some dishes after MasterChef. But I’m really waiting to meet with my publisher to see what they reckon, because they probably know best.”
Allen’s win has been well-received, with media repeatedly asked about his next move, and inevitable questions about women.
“Everything has been really positive. I feel really lucky because it feels like the public like me. So everything has been positive about the show. There’s been the odd question about ‘How do you find the female attention?” but all in all everyone has been awesome.”
He also admits he entered the contest without having seen many episodes.
“I was pretty naïve. I filled out the application not knowing what I was getting myself into. It seemed like a great opportunity but I didn’t really know what came of that opportunity,” he says.
“Once you knew the logistics of the show and how you were isolated from your family and friends it definitely hit home.
“I realised ‘This is a Reality TV show’ and not just a holiday with half an hour of cooking everyday.”
But any hesitations he had about the Reality genre were soon dismissed.
“It was tricky at the start but I couldn’t say great enough words about the production team. Everybody was so helpful. They would do anything for us. They wanted to see our development and that went right from the judges to the producers and executive producers. I couldn’t speak highly enough of the production team,” he says.
This year contestants weren’t forbidden from watching television, but there were still some constraints to prevent them from being influenced by media.
“We were able to watch television but we weren’t able to watch Channel TEN. So we still had current affairs and things like that. But we weren’t allowed radio which was tough for me because I love my music,” Allen says.
“We worked 6 days a week and they’re long days so the last thing you feel like doing is watching news or something.”
Quizzed on whether the final challenge, a Gaytime dessert, should have been a blind judging, he says: “Personally I thought it was a clear cut winner there anyway so I really don’t think it would have made much difference to be honest.”
Finally I ask about his brush with fame. Has he started getting used to the public recognition yet?
“It was strange at the start but I think I’ve learned how to deal with it over time. But it’s been a lot more intense today. I can’t step out of the car without someone saying ‘G’Day’ and ‘Congratulations.’ But as I said before, everything’s been really positive,” he says.
“I was totally myself throughout the competition so to be liked as yourself and portrayed as yourself, I’m pretty proud.”