Darrsh Clarke On Visiting Sri Lanka, Making His Dad Proud & What 'MasterChef Australia' Taught Him

The dessert king made the final six of MasterChef Australia 2024.

MasterChef Australia 2024 contestant Darrsh Clarke

MasterChef Australia 2024 contestant Darrsh Clarke. Image Source: Channel 10

To reach the final few weeks of the competition is a very impressive feat, but it’s understandable that Darrsh Clarke had mixed emotions when he just missed out on making the final five of MasterChef Australia this year.

The 31-year-old was eliminated from the cooking show last night, after his version of French legend Guillaume Brahimi’s Royale of peas with duo of crab, tarragon mayonnaise, caviar and fried mussel didn’t quite land. 

“It's a weird mix of emotions. Obviously, I feel so much pride for how far I went in the competition and what I was able to do,” Clarke tells Draw Your Box. “Obviously, I’m disappointed to miss out on top five.” 

Going into the competition quite confident in his ability to make desserts, Clarke admits the savoury elements of last night’s pressure test were what sent him home. Having said that, he believes his savoury cooking skills have improved overall during his time in the MasterChef kitchen, proving the transformative learning experience that the reality show can be. 

“Probably three or four weeks in, I remember going, ‘OK, I can't just get by cooking sweet and I have to really make an effort to focus on my savoury game and understand savoury techniques,’” he recalls. “I think we saw that happen more and more. And particularly  bringing my Sri Lankan influence with the savoury – that was something that I could lean on big time.”

MasterChef Australia 2024 contestant Darrsh Clarke

MasterChef Australia 2024 contestant Darrsh Clarke. Image Source: Channel 10

An example of this was when Clarke used the bacon and egg challenge to create a Bacon and Egg Kottu Roti. 

“Visit Sri Lanka and you HAVE to get a Kottu Roti, some might argue it’s the national dish,” he later wrote on his Instagram account. “The best way to describe it is a sort of Fried Rice x Curry fusion, usually made with left overs in the fridge and cut up Roti.”

Clarke grew up in Australia after his parents – who were born and brought up in Sri Lanka – moved to Perth in 1989. The management consultant says he hopes to visit the motherland again soon, teasing a trip with MasterChef co-star Savindri Perera (aka Sav) may even be on the cards.

“Look, it’s still in its planning stage,” he laughs, explaining both Perera and himself have been approached by various people to potentially do a food tour later in the year.

“It's something that I think we'd both be more than happy to do. That's something that's really high up on my list,” he says. “Post the show, obviously, I had a bit of an epiphany when it came to my cultural identity. And I really, really want to go visit Sri Lanka, and showcase through my online platform, just how amazing the food is from the motherland.” 

Prior to appearing on MasterChef, Clarke had opened up about the influence his later father had on him both personally and professionally. His dad’s first job in Australia involved cooking at an Indian restaurant, before he went on to become a university professor.

Reflecting on his time on the small screen, Clarke believes his dad would’ve been very proud of him venturing into new territory on MasterChef

“I think [he’d be] super, super proud – not just for how well I did, but in just taking that leap, just going for it. It takes a lot to apply, and it takes a lot to just find yourself on the show,” he says. “That creativity and chasing your dreams is something that he really embodied, and I think that he'd be super proud just from that aspect.” 

As for what’s next for Clarke, the management consultant says he’s likely to keep his day job, particularly as a means to help him achieve his future food dreams.

“Definitely, the day job's going to be there to really support what it is I want to do for my next step,” he says. 

While his next step will be food-related, he hasn’t confirmed exactly what it will be. But having placed sixth on MasterChef, and with now over 9,000 Instagram followers, something tells us that Clarke’s big move will be one to watch. 

Clarke entered the MasterChef kitchen this year alongside 21 other home cooks vying for $250,000 in prize money. They’ve been Alex Crisp, David Tan, Gillian Dinh, Harry Butterfield, James Holmes, Jonathan Hooper, Josh Clarke, Josh Perry, Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal, Khristian Walker, Lachlan Whittle, Lily Davies, Lourdes Leschen, Mimi Wong, Nat Thaipun, Savindri Perera, Snezana Calic, Steph Griffen, Stephen Dennis, Sue Bazely and Sumeet Saigal.

The judges this year are Andy Allen, Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli. 

MasterChef Australia 2024 airs Sunday to Wednesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.