Q&A with Reynold Poernomo – Former Masterchef Contest & Dessert Prince

With the Cake, Bake and Sweets show running this weekend (23-25 October; tickets) – Australia’s largest gathering of home bakers, decorators, and foodies along with 25 world-class bakers, and dessert artists; we had the chance to catch up with Masterchef’s most recent season’s dessert prince, Reynold Poernomo, to see what life’s been like after his starring performance.

What can people expect to see from you at the Cake Bake, and Sweets show?
So at the show, I’m going to be doing one of my signature dishes that will be a dessert called “Little Garden” (pictured). I’ll be playing around with the flavours quite often and it’s also a dish that was based off a challenge in Masterchef.

What are you most excited for at the Cake Bake, and Sweets show? – Other than yourself.
Oh myself? [laughs] I guess to me, the other chefs actually. I haven’t done many cooking demos – I only did one a couple of days ago, so that was pretty fun. So I’m pretty excited to do a big one. I’ve got my mum along with me so she’ll be looking around and I’ll be walking around the show floor as well.

How did you decide on the name of your upcoming dessert bar?
Just collaborating with my mum, auntie, my brothers, and business partner. Throwing ideas, throwing in names, lots of back and forth, but I think we just got one down pat. There’s not many options out there, so it’s been hard coming up with one. It’s to be confirmed – we literally agreed on it five minutes ago, but the name we came up with is KOI. It has sentimental meaning behind it, as well as being nice and simple – something we were after. We should be open late November.

In terms of sweets, what’s your best baking or cooking tip?
To be 100% honest, I don’t really bake or make cakes, but it’s really more due to me preferring more of the restaurant style desserts than cakes. But in terms of sweets, let’s say there are two ways of making chocolate fondant. The easy way I guess, is to half cook the cake, but I like doing that extra step and making the ganache and filling it on the inside.

Do you eat your own desserts when you make them at home?
Surprisingly, no. There’s actually some desserts that people love, but I haven’t even had a chance to try them yet!


Yeah, it’s weird, The last demo that I did, where I made a coconut panacotta, with black sesame sponge and yuzu. I didn’t even get to try it; but people were really happy with the flavour combination. I try it as I go, but just never altogether.

Do you have a favourite dish you love to make?

I think it’s a dish I call Moss. It’s got a green apple sorbet, with matcha soil, pistachio sponge cake, and also aerated lime yoghurt. I like it because it’s really refreshing and also plays with the visual aspect since it’s called “Moss”; the dish is all green and I love working with colour pallets.

Would that be your guilty treat as well?
That’s actually just favourite dish to make. My guilty treat would be a tub of ice cream. Connoisseur is pretty good, I really like the mint chocolate. I wish I could eat it all day, but it’s probably not in my best interest.

Let’s jump to Masterchef mode for a moment, I’ve asked a few fellow foodies to name some ingredients for a mystery box challenge, and it’d be interesting to see what you’d cook up with them. The ingredients are: saffron, polenta, creme fraiche, prunes, cranberry and matcha tea (Note: mystery box challenges only require contestants to use one of the ingredients + have access to kitchen staples).
Oh, alright, that’s kind of tricky. I’d make a matcha sable, a french biscuit, that usually sits atop of a profiterole that’s baked and has a little ‘crack’ to it. I’d also make a saffron ice cream and probably do something with…I don’t know it’s really hard to say! [laughs] I think it’s best to keep it really simple with saffron and matcha.

Since coming out of Masterchef, what’s been the biggest change to your life?
I guess the doors of opportunity. I probably wouldn’t be here without a lot of things that have happened due to Masterchef. Especially getting to meet a lot of different chefs and being grounded with a lot of things. What I mean by that is that you get to learn a lot about yourself and the style of your cooking and what you’re capable of. So Masterchef really set that bar for me and what I can expect in the future.

Did you get to keep your Masterchef aprons? And if so, do you still wear them at home?
I gave the apron away to my girlfriend, because she’s the whole reason I got to where I am today.

How long will you be in Melbourne for? Do you come down often? What are your favourite spots?
I’ll be down just for the show, but I’ll be back in the week after for the ‘Melbourne International Food & Beverage Week’ for about a week or so. I don’t come down as often as I’d like, but some of my favourites are: for fine dining, Vue De Monde, which is really good, and for something a bit more casual, George’s restuarant Gazi where the souvlaki is pretty damn good.


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