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MasterChef fan favourite Declan hangs up his apron

“I lost my finger, I actually chopped my finger off so I’m down to nine fingers,” he joked.
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In a high-risk high reward semi-final service challenge, it was 24-year-old Declan Cleary who hung up his apron, one spot short of securing a spot in the final two for MasterChef Australia 2023. 

Tasked with creating their own three-course menus for a room full of hungry diners, Declan, Brent, and Rhiannon were put to the test, and made to prove they could create a delicious menu, and even more importantly, prepare it in time.

WATCH NOW: Robbie Cooper eliminated from MasterChef. Article continues after video. 

Ultimately, whilst the challenge was four and a half hours long, time flew by fast and Declan found himself unable to finish all elements of his dishes to the standard he would have liked. 

Speaking with New Idea the morning after his on-screen departure, we did of course have to ask him if his finger was alright, following his close call with a knife during the challenge. 

“I lost my finger, I actually chopped my finger off so I’m down to nine fingers,” he joked to our absolute disbelief.

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Luckily for Declan, he didn’t hurt himself too bad. (Credit: Instagram/Ten)

But not to worry, straight after this jaw-dropping statement, Declan revealed that he had healed just fine. 

“There was no pain in the moment, there was just so much adrenaline. But I did have a battle scar now.”

Whilst tuning in to watch from the comforts of his couch was Declan’s original plan given he had already lived it, he did change his tune very quickly. 

“I’ve watched every single episode. It’s just been so amazing, it’s such a special production to be part of and it was just put together so beautifully,” Declan admits. 

“It’s been really nice watching it with [my girlfriend] Talya and my family, having an insight into what I actually did day to day.” 

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This 24 year old is only at the beginning of his career! (Credit: Instagram/Ten)

Surprisingly, this was the first time the semi-finalist had ever applied for the reality cooking competition. 

But based on his experience, he does have one pearl of wisdom for any home cooks looking to follow in his footsteps. 

“My word of advice is do not prepare! If you start preparing you are already setting yourself up for failure!” 

“You’ve just got to go in with ambition and intuition and know that you can think fast on your feet at the challenges that get thrown your way.”

“If you go in trying to prepare for the unknown, you are setting yourself up for failure.”

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Declan said he enjoyed watching this season back with his girlfriend. (Credit: Instagram)

The beach-based home cook also touched up his heartwarming relationship with 65-year-old Robbie Cooper who he describes to us as his “adoptive father.”

“We created such a special bond and a special friendship.”

The pair haven’t seen each other in a few months, with Declan planning a trip to the Northern Territory soon: “I just want to go see him,” Declan says.

Another especially heartwarming moment from this season saw Declan step in to assist fellow contestant Theo Loizou when he was falling behind during a pressure test challenge. 

“Obviously the 250,000 at the end of the path wasn’t going through my head [in that moment],” Declan tells us. 

“Theo or not I would have helped anyone out. I was glad that he pulled through and he ended up plating a finished dish.”

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These two formed an unlikely friendship whilst competing on the show. (Credit: Instagram/Ten)

So what about the future? 

“I will approach the future with an open mind and the determination to make the most of opportunities that come my way.”

“I’m keen to hone my skills and expand my culinary knowledge even more [as well as] collaborating with Robbie and some other contestants that I really clicked with this season.”

As for who Declan thinks will take out the title of MasterChef champion for 2023, you’ll have to click here.

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