Masterchef Australia Top Ten Talk About Themselves
OK Magazine this week has an article where they talk to the Top Ten Masterchef Australia contestants about the competition. It just gives you a bit more insight into their cooking experience and motivation to be on the show.
The articles states:
What possessed you to join Masterchef?
I’ve been cooking for about 10 years, and I love it. I don’t really talk about my job, I always talk about food. People kept saying, ‘You should be in food’. I contemplated buying a restaurant last year, but I just didn’t have the confidence in myself – so I thought Masterchef would give me a kick up the bum and a bit of a confidence boost.
What have you learned so far?
Restraint. It applies to everything you do: it’s about not overloading the palate with flavours, not overloading the senses, not having too many things on the plate and respecting your produce.
What’s your dream job?
My dream job is to open a French bistro, whether it be in the city or the country. A lot of my dishes lately have been in the style that I want, and it’s making me realise this is the food I want to be cooking.
Do you have a favourite celebrity chef?
At the moment I’d say that is Thomas Keller from the US.
What’s you strength in this competition?
My strength is being strong. I’m a survivor.
What’s been the most challenging for you on the show?
There’s two sides. On the cooking side you’ve always got to be a little bit more creative and inventive, and this year the competition is so much harder – you’ve always got to be on top of what you’re doing. And personally, it’s challenging being away from my family.
Who do you think will win?
I think the top four will be Jonathan, Marion, Callum and Adam. But in the final, definitely Adam and Callum. I’m a huge fan of Adam’s. He’s such a talented guy, and so under-estimated in the competition. Callum is a sweetheart, really lovely.
What is your signature dish?
Roast Wagyu beef fillet with red-wine reduction, pumpkin puree, candied walnuts and roasted artichokes. Every element of the dish is quite simple, but when it comes together it’s just really wholesome and beautiful.
What’s your advantage in this competition?
Presentation is really important. I feel it’s one of my strongest points. I can visualise how [a dish] will look before I cook anything and then when it comes to plating it I just do it – make it look great.
What’s your kitchen personality?
I’d say I’m probably a bit untidy in the kitchen, which gets me into trouble in the Masterchef kitchen. George is constantly coming around going ‘Matt clean up your bench’.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I signed on to Masterchef to meet people in the industry to get into the best restaurants in Australia. I really want to own my own restaurant of the two to three-hat standard, which is a big dream.
Where did you passion for cooking stem from?
My mum is extremely passionate about food and I always enjoyed eating out, so I think the natural thing is to want ot create and cook at home.
What’s your cooking style?
I like to cook retro food; so getting real old-school recipes like chocolate pudding and giving them a modern twist.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to work with?
I love citrus fruits – they’re really versatile and just lift the dish. Fresh, grilled sardines are gorgeous with a little herb and lemon dressing.
The best thing you’ve learnt?
I’ve learnt a lot about red meat and cooking techniques. I can cook a steak to medium-rare now. I’m happy about that.
Why is food important to you?
Food’s always been something I’ve loved. In my youth it brought me closer to my father. Last July my father had a heart attack, and when he recovered he told me to have a serious look at my life and change things while I had time. The auditions were coming up and I was like, ‘I wouldn’t normally do something like this, but I’ll just try, just to see what happens.
What inspires your cooking?
I’m a fan of Italian and Mexican food. On the show I’m the confirmed pasta lunatic. I like experimenting with strange flavours and combinations. But there’s a lot of traditional elements that I love that you can twist and turn into something that’s a bit left of centre – just like myself.
Who’s your food hero?
What’s your signature dish?
A dish called ‘Smoke on the Water’, an ode to a Deep Purple song. It’s a ravioli stuffed with prawns, lemon and fennel. I infuse a truffle oil with mussels and chilli, and coat the ravioli and serve with trout.
You live in Tokyo now.. why did you apply for Masterchef?
All my friends live in Australia and they were emailing me, ‘Watch this show, it’s really good, you’ve got to try out for it next year’. I was on the net one day, saw the applications and put one in.
How do you cope with your food being judged?
The judges are there to judge your food for what it is. You put a plate of food in front of people who have no emotional investment in telling you it’s great. They’ll give you really honest feedback and that’s confronting.
What’s been most challenging?
To be mature about cooking because I’m quite experimental in my own kitchen.
What exactly are you like in your own kitchen?
I have so much fun in my own kitchen and I can’t quite bring myself to do that in the MasterChef Kitchen. I feel that if I have too much fun when I’m under that much pressure it will be like I’m not taking it seriously.
Claire Winton Burn:
What does being on Masterchef mean to you?
I wanted a change. For me, it’s about making a decision to really follow my dream and do what makes me happy rather than do what I feel like I should be doing. It’s an opportunity to cook all the time and make my passion my life.
What have you found the hardest in the competition?
I love recipes. Freestyle cooking is not my forte and that something that I definitely grapple with.
What’s your best cooking tip?
Keep it clean and simple. Don’t over-complicate things and don’t lose the produce.
How do you differ from how you’re presented on TV?
I go to my happy place when I’m cooking. When I’m home, I sing. Because I’m reserved, people can’t always tell there’s a passion there.
Where did you get your love for food and cooking?
My dad was a very good cook and growing up my sister was a vegetarian, which meant we had to be a little bit more creative and had a lot of variety in what we ate. That made me interested in food. My sister’s boyfriend is a chef; just being around him and seeing what he does inspires me.
How important is following a recipe for you?
I don’t really use a recipe as a recipe. I just sort of use them as inspirations. I think recipes should be a guideline and everything else should be your own personal taste. The exception is baking.
What has surprised you most about yourself on the series?
When I came into the competition I was all about main meals; I loved cooking meat and fish. But since I’ve been here, I’ve really developed a love for desserts.
So, you could be the next Adriano Zumbo…
I never would have considered it before Masterchef, but I would seriously consider being a pastry chef – I think it would be fantastic.
What did your friends say when you applied for Masterchef?
Ninety per cent of them said, ‘That’s so cool!’Ten per cent thought I was crazy.
What’s your cooking strength?
My strength is in savoury, but I do love my sweets. I believe that dessert is a separate stomach. I’ve always kept room for dessert.
What rule do you live by in the kitchen?
Never be afraid of what you’re about to tackle, whether it’s an appliance, or a piece of protein. I think they sense fear [laughs], and if you learn to love them and work with them carefully, I think they’re very nice too.
How does it feel to be cooking instead of working?
It’s crazy! This time last year, I’d have been behind a computer. This has given me a licence to be creative, and express myself with flare.
What would you say is your cooking style?
I kind of like to cook a lot of Asian food because my mum is from Thailand, but I also love French food and French technique, so I kind of cook a bit of mish-mash of styles and flavours.
What is your signature dish?
Probably one of my favourite dishes is a twice-baked goat’s cheese souffle that I serve with garlic snails. It just sort of says everything I love about food. I love that French technique and I also love, I guess, odd ingredients.
Do you see yourself as a risk-taker?
I guess I’m fairly risky in my food because a lot of people probably don’t like lamb’s brains or livers or snails. But I think if those things are cooked beautifully, I don’t see them as a risk because they taste so good. But I guess it’s up to personal tastes.
What would you like to do after Masterchef?
I’d like to open a ‘wine garden’ with my boyfriend in SA. Kind of like a beer garden, but with wine.