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Why MasterChef's Reynold Poernomo Has Reopened Restaurants Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

His two Sydney dessert bars are back in business after adapting their outlets to adhere to strict government guidelines ahead of the Easter weekend.

After closing the doors on his two restaurants following the government’s strict no dine-in rule, ‘MasterChef Australia’ star Reynold Poernomo has revealed why he’s back in business.

The 26-year-old’s two Koi Dessert Bars in Sydney’s Chippendale and Ryde have reopened for takeaway and delivery ahead of the Easter long weekend, a decision Reynold made to save his livelihood.

Last month Prime Minister Scott Morrison said pubs, registered and licensed clubs, gyms and indoor sporting venues would shut down, while restaurants and cafes will be limited to takeaway orders only.

With “no specific dates” surrounding these social distancing rules, Reynold said the waiting game wasn’t practical for him and his brothers, whom he opened the restaurants with.

“We weren’t sure, the government didn’t really say anything about how long this lockdown would be,” he told HuffPost Australia.

MasterChef Australia's Reynold Poernomo
Channel 10
MasterChef Australia's Reynold Poernomo

“We thought about it like, ‘Yeah we can’t just sit around and do nothing. We need to do something’.

“It’s getting really boring and everyone in isolation was very bored,” he explained. “There’s a lot of home cooking happening and it’s time for us to come get back into work and support our staff as well, and of course support ourselves.”

Reynold’s two Koi Dessert Bars and savoury restaurant Monkey’s Corner have reopened for takeaway and delivery because, “We can’t forget Easter, we’ve already planned Easter with what we wanted to do”, he explained.

″[It’s] our cakes and it’s something that we don’t want to miss out.... we’ve always got delivery and we’re making sure that over the Easter weekend, people can enjoy their desserts while they watch MasterChef.”

Reynold became a household name on Australian TV and was dubbed the ‘Dessert King’ after appearing in season seven of ‘MasterChef Australia’ in 2015.

He’s now one of 24 former contestants returning to the show for its 12th season, ‘Masterchef Australia: Back To Win’, which premieres on Easter Monday.

The show’s production currently continues and has been adapted to the coronavirus climate.

“Production has been very, very different. Ever since the stage one, two and three government restrictions, we’ve been following every single rule,” explained Reynold. “We’ve been socially distanced, even in the competition. It’s a bit weird, so we haven’t really had any outside challenges.

“We’ve been keeping 1.5 metre distance, and before we cook we have to wash our hands. Definitely hygiene has gone up by 10 times.”

A spokesperson from production company Endemol Shine Australia said social distancing, hand sanitising stations, gloves for groups challenges and additional sinks were being provided. The full statement is below:

Endemol Shine Australia’s statement:

“MasterChef Australia has always employed the highest standards of food safety and hygiene, and we now have an even keener focus on that. All recommendations outlined by Federal and State government health authorities are being followed.

Under the current circumstances, we are introducing new measures for the foreseeable future. These include, but are not limited to social distancing measures across every facet of the production and additional hand sanitising stations positioned around the set and offices.

On the set, changes will be made to the spacing of contestant cooking benches and gloves provided for team challenges where equipment may be shared, as well as when handling food in the pantry. Additional sinks have been added as dedicated hand washing stations, so as to separate from any food preparation.

Judges will step up to taste individually portioned meals and no cutlery or plates will be shared.”

‘Masterchef Australia: Back To Win’ premieres Monday April 13 at 7:30pm on Channel 10.

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