He had five restaurants on the go from Brisbane to Melbourne and was in the midst of filming a massive 90 episodes of his TV series From Farm to Fork ... but when MasterChef came calling, Andy Allen was never going to say no.
It should be pointed out in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Allen has temportarily closed the doors on all his restaurants - including his Three Blue Ducks which carries a chef's hat rating - so things are somewhat less frenetic than they were.
"I grew up during MasterChef," the former Maitland man and Mustangs basketballer said by way of explanation. " When I first went there I was totally overwhelmed. I was 23, still living at home, and only cooking for the family and my mates on weekends. Suddenly you're in this big house full of strangers, seven in a room, all passionate food people ... it was crazy. I remember there were a couple of snorers they were put in the same room ... you 'd walk past and it was like the walls were shaking.
"But the whole time, on the show, back at the house, it was a learning experience. It took about seven or eight months to film the show from start to finish, so it's where I grew up."
Allen doesn't sugar coat the fact he believes he was the worst cook there when he joined.
"I truly think that. I just didn't want to embarrass myself on national television, while learning as much as I could," he said. "Every week I was in survival mode, soaking up everything I could as the numbers whittled.
"But things changed for me when I cooked a dish for Marco Pierre White of all people, and it was horrible, truly an awful dish.
"It sent me into an elimination round. I thought I would be going home for sure, so I decided if I was going to be eliminated, I would at least enjoy myself and have some fun. The dish turned out really well, I survived for another day and I realised I'm a better cook when I enjoy it ... and I still am today.
"From that point on I started to cook really well."
Now, along with Jock Zonfrillo, a Scottish chef with a love for Australian indigenous ingredients, and freelance food writer Melissa Leong, they are the new guard of MasterChef judges.
But this series takes a new twist with some of the heavy hitters of past series, those who were pipped at the post, back to seek redemption - think Poh, Hayden Quinn, Reynold, Courtney Ralston, Chris Badenoch, Callum Hann, and Newcastle's Reece Hignell among others .
As you would expect from cooks of this standing - now older, more experienced and knowing the pressure they will face ... some even with their own television cooking series - the quality of food being offered is on the next level to anything in the past.
"I can tell you we've done part of the filming and some of the food served up has been amazing," Allen said. "I don't see myself as judging so much, as giving them knowledgeable feedback. Really all we're trying to do is help people cook smashing food."
To kick the new series off, the producers no doubt wanted to start with a bang - and in the world of food there's few bigger bangs than Gordon Ramsey who spent the whole first week there.
"He was outstanding and set the whole series up brilliantly," Allen said.
"He set the bar really high with his energy, his attention to detail ... to have him standing there, suddenly everyone was competing at his level."
"He's a lovely guy, family orientated, he wanted to know about everyone, how we're all doing ... I couldn't speak more highly of him."
Not all the plans have come to fruition however.
Coronavirus hasn't just impacted Allen's restaurants, but also some of the guest appearances the show had planned.
"Obviously getting celebrity chefs to fly around the world has been an issue," he said. "But we're off to a great start."