Masterchef Australia – Exit Interview With Alice Zaslavsky
Alice Zaslavsky has shown on Masterchef Australia that if you stick around long enough on a show you can go from being vilified for your hipster look and glasses, to become Australia’s series four darling.
We have a chat to discuss if they guessed it was an Asian challenge when they played their immunity pins, Italy, glasses and where to from here. She appears to be the same in real life as she comes across on screen. You can also go to her holding site alicez.com.au to get updates on what she is doing.
Reality Ravings (RR): I noticed in news.com.au this morning that you had a pact to play the immunity pins, what was the rationale behind that?
AZ: I don’t think we really thought about it too much. It was kind of more a case of by that stage in the competition we had all bonded so much that we did not really want to be in it for ourselves anymore. It was kind of like everyone else wanting to do really well. So when it came to choosing the right time to use the pin, I knew that the Kylie Kwong challenge was the perfect time as it did not put anyone else in danger. Everyone else was on the same footing. In all the other eliminations it would have meant someone else would have had to go in my place or there would be less contestants in it.
It was pretty cool Mindy, Kylie and I playing it at the same time, as we were kind of saying we did not want to play any under hand tactics. I was a little bit worried as the judges asked me first, and I thought ‘oh my God’ what if Mindy changes her mind [we saw the bamboo steamers under the bench] or what if Kylie decides she can cook today.
RR: Well that kills one conspiracy of the many that was running on my blog, that you shamed them into using it. You’re one of the people that really created a lot of chatter about this series of Masterchef and one of the things that made up the chatter was your glasses.
AZ: I cannot believe my glasses a such a big deal [laughs] it is the strangest thing. About five years ago my optometrist got a whole bunch of samples from the seventies in and I have been acquiring them slowly thanks to private health insurance.
RR: How many do you have? And did you have some you wore for specific challenges?
AZ: I did not even bring all my glasses with me I only brought a little selection, and it just trying to go with the outfit and probably when I had a red apron challenge I probably would have worn my red glasses. Going into the competition we were told we had to stick with one look. I had to choice of trying to conform and try and be pretty and wear contacts for 17 hours a day and be miserable or I could be comfortable and just relax into some over sized t-shirts and glasses that my kids are used to seeing me wearing.
RR: So how many pairs? I need to know.
AZ: Probably about twenty at home and I had seven pairs with me.
RR: Over to Italy, what was the oven incident? Gary looked freaked out and was obviously looking at someone.
AZ: It was technical glitch and because I had checked the oven and it was at temperature, and I had used those ovens before in the Massimo challenge. So you would expect the oven to work and it just didn’t. Thankfully I was able to use Mindy’s oven and in the end I think it was quite serendipitous as it meant my rabbit was a little bit under and then I could use Mallard reaction in the pan to crisp it up a bit, and it was the rabbit that saved me.
RR: When was the gastro in Italy was it before or after you had to eat the lambs innards?
AZ: The crew got gastro but none of the contestants really got it except for Andy. It wasn’t really a worry for us. We just made sure we were as hygienic as possible. We did not come down with it. We were very lucky.
RR: Because there has been so much chatter about you have you been reading what has been said in the social media – on Twitter, Facebook or blogs and how have you felt about it?
AZ: The problem is I am such a massive computer nerd is that I just can’t help myself and one of the biggest things that everyone has told us is don’t read the blogs and don’t read the twitter feed. It is easier said than done. At the start I thought I was better off in being in control knowing what people were saying and it was also really frustrating not being able to defend myself without sounding like a silly person and I just had to have faith that I was going to be in there long enough that people would come around to me. I am really grateful that they did. Your blog was one that I was really worried about because that there were a lot of regulars that were doubting me and wondering what was up with me. I feel they really warmed to me in the end.
RR: Yes indeed, there were a lot of people passing on their well wishes to you. I think reality contestants find people that don’t like them but they also find pockets of fans.
AZ: I was bullied enough at school so I knew how to handle it. When I visited my kids at school they said Miss Z we saw some awful things being said about you on the internet, we think you are being cyberbullied. And I realised at that moment that in some way that what people say about contestants is cyber bullying. There is a particular way of dealing with cyber bullying and I just have to take my own advice and haters are going to hate. If people want to be mean they will find something to be mean about. In a funny way my glasses were like a red herring because people did not really focus on anything else. They just fixated on these glasses and did not really talk about failings in the kitchen and they did not talk about my messy hair or the fact my skin was cracking the shits, it was just about my glasses so I think I got off pretty easy.
RR: I think you are going to be one of the more memorable contestants from series four. What was your favourite challenge on the show?
AZ: I think it has to be the Massimo one, I don’t know if you could tell I lost control of my articulation as when I heard him speak in Melbourne he literally made me change my very approach to cooking – his view is each dish has to be a concept and that you need to be conceptual. I had tried to carry it along and the fact I was able to show him this, also they did not show this, but he said the fact that one person listened or heard what he was saying meant he would keep talking about it.
I don’t know if you got a sense of him from that episode, but he is more like a philosopher than a chef. It was just such an honour to cook for him.
In terms of the group challenge my favourite challenge was either the pop-up restaurant as that was super fun and contrary to popular belief I actually did a lot of prep, before changing into my dress to do front of house. That was pretty funny. The other one was the Careme one. The fact that I got to work with Julia was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun.
RR: The other controversial person in the house was Debra and I think you roomed with her in Italy. Was she difficult to get along with in team challenges or was it that she was older and was probably more assertive. What is your take on it? Or was it just editing on the show?
AZ: I think it is interesting. I did room with her in Italy and it was a really good opportunity to kind of get to know her in her own space. We really bonded and had an interesting intellectual connection and were able to analyse the entire Italy trip. I was able to debrief after each challenge. In teams challenge it was like she changed a little bit – maybe the fact she was older, but also maybe she did not operate well in a team. I think it wasn’t her thing. We all knew that, we tried to work around it. Obviously it makes it a little bit hard. She knew what her weaknesses were, but she was frustrated as she did not feel she was valued in the team, and I [if Alice had been team captain] would have loved to have given her an opportunity to work on a dish that really showcased her skills, as she is a great cook.
RR: Your Jewish, you didn’t appear to have any issues cooking with pork.
AZ: I like to think of myself as being jew-ish. I am a pretty bad example of being a Jew. I tried to be authentic the whole way through and if I worried to much who I was representing and who I was showing myself to then that would kind of got lost.
RR: Who do you think is going to win? Or who do you think should win? That can be two different people.
AZ: I would love Julia to win, as I think that she is my best friend in the house and the problem with the way she is being edited is that people think she is quite icy and quite cold but she has such a warmth to her. I think she could really make a difference and make people realise they don’t have to play the victim. She does a really great job of being a strong female and she subverts the very notion of being a tall blonde. I think she deserves to win and it will just be a question of what the judges think.
RR: And what the challenges are…
AZ: Obviously with dessert being her strength but don’t be surprised her savoury dishes are pretty darn cool too.
RR: Who’s your favourite judge?
AZ: I would have to go with Matt Preston. There were times I liked George because he is silly and I liked Gary as he is like a big teddy dad, but ultimately I think Matt Preston got my jokes the best.
RR: Your food truck idea which sounds really interesting – can you tell us a bit more about that?
AZ: I was trying to get my girls [students] to get into cooking and all they wanted to talk about is Masterchef. Part of the reason I went on the program was I realised the vehicle that Masterchef can provide. It gives you this strange legitimacy with kids. What I would love to have a program that would get kids excited about being in the kitchen and gets them in there and cooking. The problem with way we are approaching teen health, for example, is that we are telling them what is good for them instead of just getting to see it for themselves. I think if they were in the kitchen baking cookies they would see how much sugar is going into something or they would see how much butter is going into something they might be more likely to only have one of them rather than five. If they keep on buying stuff from the tuckshop and going through drive-throughs as they get older they don’t appreciate that element. I am trying to get them back to real food. Beau and I have decided we might even join forces. He wants to to stuff with kids fitness and sport and gardening. I would like to do something with cooking and education.
RR: I could see you fronting a kids TV program I think you could be the one person, or possibly Amina who might get her own food show, to continue on in the media.
AZ: I am just keeping myself open to anything.
RR: It is similar to Stephanie Alexander’s program.
AZ: Yes, but the thing about Stephanie’s is that they are fixed. It can’t go from place to place. Anything I can do to lift the profile of getting kids back into the kitchen and hopefully even changing the curriculum and get people to realise that Home Economics should be on the curriculum. One thing I have realised that kids are desperate to know learn how to cook.
RR: That’s right, it was always seen as a bit of a quango subject but it is pretty important skill for life.
AZ: I don’t know if anyone has noticed but maybe there is a correlation between home ec not taught any more and the obesity rate is through the roof.
RR: Valid point. Would you go on another reality show and which one would you go on?
AZ: I never ever thought of auditioning for a reality TV show and the only reason I did was that I was going to be exposed to so many amazing chefs and going to learn so much about food. It does not make sense for me to go on anything and stress myself as I did. I am not a stressed person at all. My adrenaline levels were through the roof.
RR: Were you watching the show together in the house?
AZ: Channel Ten was blocked.
RR: You had to wait to get out to actually watch the show online.
AZ: Exactly and we don’t have access to the internet so we don’t know how we are being perceived or what they are saying until we get out and then you are bombarded with it.
RR: Bit like being locked in the Big Brother house.
AZ: Thankfully the difference between the Big Brother house is we are not being filmed 24 hours a day.
RR: Any romances in the house?
AZ: No we were all in the house with the reasons to change our lives. We were all there to cook. The only romance we had was the love the food.
Masterchef Australia on TEN – Sunday to Thursday at 7.00pm