Meet Masterchef Australia Season 7 Dessert Maestro, Reynold Poernomo

Words: Crush

Findus Vegetables

Reynold Poernomo became a household name during Season 7 of Masterchef Australia, which aired here in South Africa in 2015. He left judges and fellow contestants gobsmacked with his incredibly beautiful and intricate desserts and had viewers around the world drooling at their TV screens. His creativity and skill were undeniable and they propelled him into the top 4 of the competition, where ultimately he was eliminated on a flame-grilled bonito pressure test set by Brett Graham of the Ledbury, London. Since leaving Masterchef, Reynold has pursued his dream of opening a dessert bar and it is here that he flexes that creativity by creating awe-inspiring sweet treats on a daily basis. Customers come from all over Australia, and the world,  to oooh and ahhh at his masterful creations and of course, if lucky enough, eat them too. We chat to Reynold to find out a bit more about what he’s been up to…

What prompted you to go from student to Masterchef contestant?
At first I never really considered it, as I was skewed into finishing my Bachelor Degree and pursuing Nutrition, even though I hated the workload along the way. However, my girlfriend at the time, whom obviously I wanted to impress by cooking for her, convinced me into joining. She made me fill out the application form and I didn’t think much about it or even think I’d get accepted to the audition rounds.

You were very young when you started on your Masterchef journey do you think this is a blessing or a curse?
To be honest it was both! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so there was no way that I could miss it. The journey was a blessing as it created a clear golden path to what I’ve always dreamed of doing, as well as inspiring others that watched the show a long the way.

The curse side of it is, well… it is the harder path to gaining recognition in the hospitality industry. Many chefs do look down and perceive Masterchef as a “shortcut”. The only way is to keep working my ass off to prove them wrong. 🙂

Season 8 has just aired here in SA, what was it like coming back to set a challenge; is it as nerve-wrecking being on the other side?
It is nerve wrecking, but it truly is better to be on the other side! It gives you an interesting perspective – you get to see what it’s like going into pressure tests whilst in the competition.

Did you realise before going on the show that it would propel your name and face around the globe? Has it been a strange experience to suddenly to be trending on twitter and being the topic of public debate?
It never even crossed my mind and even now really…
I’m in my own world where I’m constantly just trying to find ways to grow in my career and move forward. So, it is pretty interesting when I come across it on social media.

You’ve since opened your dessert bar Koi, can you tell us a bit about the concept?
So, KOI Dessert Bar is a two-story restaurant, with the ground level being an open café for people who just want to relax and have cake and coffee. This is open to enjoy throughout the day and night.

Our upper level is the dining room where we serve a degustation menu with a choice of either a 6-course degustation or a 4-course dessert. The concept is casual fine dining. I’d say the Dessert Bar is fairly unique in this sense as it caters for those that would like to have a nice dinner with their loved ones and those that want something quick and casual.

How is it working so closely with your brothers?
Dreadful at first of course, we are brothers… we fight. But in saying that, as KOI has continued to grow, so have we. We now work very closely and at the same level of respect. I wouldn’t work with anyone else in building KOI other than my brothers, and of course my Mum, who is the heart of everything.

Since we can’t get over there to visit Koi for ourselves, can you tell us a little bit about what your customers get to experience when they visit? Is there a house favourite?
For cakes on display, we have three house favourites: Mango Yuzu, Strawberry Lychee Pillow & Nomtella (Espresso mousse, salted caramel, chocolate glaze & brownie with hazelnut). If you have time, sit down upstairs for the full Koi experience at KOI of the dinner menu. Order an extra of “Moss” which is my signature dessert.

Is must be a lot of fun to be able to play around with different ingredients in the development stage of a dish. Are you inspired by things in your everyday life and are you constantly conceptualising dishes in your head?
It’s both fun and dreadful. It really is wonderful to work with seasonal produce in Australia, as the fruits and vegetables that are available are heavily relied on by season. The only dreadful part is if I get writer’s block, which happens too often. Creativity is not an easy process.

Do you ever get tired of sweet things; do you actually have a sweet tooth?
I’m not exactly a sweet tooth, not that I am sick of sweet things just yet. I do love ice cream.

You’ve achieved so much at such a young age, where to from here?
The only way is up! There is still plenty of room for me to make a mark in the industry and I hope to expand and grow as a group within KOI.


Favourite ingredient at the moment… Bubblegum (original)
Top restaurant on your bucket list… Alinea
Superpower you would love to have… Flight or super speed.
Favourite late night snack… Twirly pop ice creams.
New Years resolution… Work twice as hard, rest less.

Lastly! We’ve had quite a few of the Masterchef alumni and judges visit our shores, any chance we’ll be seeing you here sometime?
Not too sure, hopefully, one day. Maybe if I do get invited to do an event, sure why not! 🙂

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