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Masterchef: The Professionals Contestants Have Been Announced

Masterchef: The Professionals must be kicking off the start of the ratings season in 2013 as they have now revealed the cast of professional chefs.

There are eighteen as as expected it is male dominated as the profession is but there appear to be some good cooks there with some very good restaurants on their CV’s.

The contestants are:

The 18 contestants who will appear on the show are (from the press release):

Akuc Isaac Chol: 27, NSW, currently not working

Born in Sudan to an Eritrean mother and South Sudanese father, Akuc is the eldest girl of 11 children. Her family fled to Egypt when she was just six years old and lived there for nine years before moving to Australia as refugees when Akuc was 15. Akuc studied commercial cookery at TAFE before beginning her apprenticeship at Spice Temple, where Neil Perry rated her among the best junior talents across all his kitchens. She finished her apprenticeship at Lochiel House in the Blue Mountains.

Anthony Bantoft: 33, QLD, Private Chef

Private chef to the rich and famous, Anthony has cooked for the likes of Penelope Cruz, Sean Connery, Tommy Lee Jones and Andre Agassi, to name but a few. Based out of Palm Beach, Florida, his job as a private chef sees him work on super yachts and travel extensively around the globe. He began his apprenticeship in Cairns at the age of 15 and was running a restaurant at the age of 23.

Bonny Porter: 23, NSW, Chef

Bonny, 23, found out she was deaf in one ear at age three, and lost the hearing in her other ear when she was just seven. But she has not let that hold her back in any aspect of her life. Currently working as a chef at Sydney’s Rockpool Bar and Grill, where she has been for the past year, she started her apprenticeship at Park Hyatt in Canberra, completing her training at Manly Wine by Gazebo.

Cameron Bailey: 26, NSW, Chef

Cameron began his apprenticeship at est restaurant under the master guidance of Peter Doyle. From est, he went to Icebergs where he worked under Rob Marchetti. It was a big change, which in no time saw him cooking signature dishes for the likes of Elton John and Gordon Ramsay and controlling the pass coordinating 15 other chefs. Two years later Cameron moved to London and worked with Michelin-starred chefs Marcus Wareing and Anthony Dimitri. He is now a freelance chef in Sydney.

Cassie Delves: 19, NSW, Chef

As a child, Cassie’s love of food developed and she spent weekends tending to her fruit trees in her back garden. This was just the beginning, and her real appreciation for food grew when her family began to travel, with her first round- the-world trip at just eight. Upon returning to Australia, Cassie began her apprenticeship at a local bistro in Kiama, NSW, at 16. Cassie did her second year at Bilson’s where she was mentored by Diego Munoz, her culinary hero. She completed her apprenticeship at Justin North’s Becasse.

Chrissie Flannagan: 33, NSW, stay-at-home mum

Chrissie has been out of the kitchen since the birth of her two gorgeous daughters, Lucy (aged seven) and Ivy (12 months). As a recently separated single mother, she feels it’s now time to get back into the workforce and set a good example to her daughters. Her career began at age 16, when she undertook a traineeship in kitchen operations. After completing her apprenticeship she worked and travelled overseas, having worked at the two hatted Bel Monde, The Book Kitchen, Wokpool, Bathers and Fourth Village Providore.

Coop Woodstone: 37, NSW, Catering Manager

Coop started as a kitchen hand at 18 and was quickly promoted to line chef. He got his first head chef position in London at age 24 and has held positions of head chef, executive chef and restaurant consultant since then. He was head chef at fine dining establishment 360 Bar and Dining, Bistrot Marlo and The Storier. In 2009 he started his own catering business with wife Beth. Together they have three children, Viena (aged six), Neve (three) and Sebastian (12 months). Viena has a rare brain tumour and has had to undergo two surgeries in the past year. For Coop, it’s the greatest hurdle he has had to overcome, and it is Viena who inspired him to audition for the show. Coop has a nine year old daughter from his first marriage, Jada, who now lives in Canada with her mother.

Kiah Blanco: 27, QLD, Sous Chef

Born in Innisfail and growing up in Mission Beach in Northern Queensland, Kiah is half Torres Strait Islander (his father’s side) and has a strong connection to the land. He uses local ingredients that he finds anywhere from rainforest to reef and his cooking reflects his surroundings. Kiah got his first job working in the kitchen of a pizza restaurant where his mum was a waitress and has worked in numerous resort restaurants since including Lizard Island in Far North Queensland and most recently Bibesa in Mission Beach.

Kylie McAllester: 27, VIC, student

Kylie started her apprenticeship in Lorne working under George Biron, who introduced her to obscure sorbets, foraging and a local approach to food. She did the second year of her apprenticeship at One Fitzroy Street and was running her own restaurant on the Sunshine Coast with her fiancé Ben when she was just 25 years old. They have since sold the restaurant and moved back to Melbourne, where Kylie is studying nutrition and Ben is a chef at Vue de Monde.

Luke Southwood: 43, NSW, Chef

At 16 and living in Barcelona, Luke spied a notice in the window of a small restaurant, looking for cooks. He applied, got the job, and cooked in Barcelona for six years. Luke moved back to Australia in 1991 and was employed by Maggie Beer at Pheasant Farm restaurant. He later had his own catering company but when this closed he moved to Byron Bay to be Head Chef at Dish restaurant. In 2010 Luke was working in what he dubs an amazing job as a catering manager at Sanctuary Byron Bay, when he was involved in a terrible car accident that saw him have to quit his job. He has been recovering ever since.

Matty McKenzie: 25, QLD, Chef

Matty’s culinary career took off with gusto when he was accepted into Jamie Oliver’s first international restaurant, Fifteen Melbourne, Australia. After successfully graduating from Fifteen Melbourne at the age of 21, Matty landed his second chef position at Melbourne’s Vue de Monde. From there, his career soared, with an offer to fly overseas to Hakuba, Japan, to launch the innovative Bar and Restaurant created by Australia’s first winter Olympic gold medalist, Steven Bradbury. Matty then moved to Brisbane, where he was appointed head chef at the famous historical Old Government House Queensland and is currently employed as a private chef and hotel ambassador and works in the private fine dining restaurant Prive 249 of Brisbane’s Sofitel Hotel.

Michael Demagistris: 31, VIC, Head Chef

At 18 Michael began his apprenticeship at DaMunvio, continuing it at Kingston Heath Golf Club. Following this Michael was head chef at Jacques Reymond, where he was pushed hard and taught the finer side of cooking. Michael has been head chef at Sorrento Golf Club for the last seven years. He met his wife Tamara when they worked together at Kingston Heath Golf Club and together they have two children, Elle (aged five) and Luca (six months).

Nathan Brindle: 23, NSW, Head Chef

An artist, competition fisherman and skateboarder, Nathan began his apprenticeship at age 15 when he left Nowra for Sydney restaurant Lucio’s. He ran a catering company called River Deli and then worked at Sepia for 18 months. Nathan is currently head chef at Blancmange in Petersham.

Nick Whitehouse: 41, NSW, Kitchen Project Manager

Originally from the UK, Nick arrived in Sydney in 2009 and has worked at restaurants Koi, Wildfire and Flying Fish. Nick says his main qualities are that he is calm under pressure and organised. Nick was the personal chef for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their UK tour and had to do most of the work from a van or from the side of stage. He lives with his partner, Angela and daughter Emma (aged two) and says his greatest achievement is becoming a father.

Rhett Willis: 33, QLD, Head Chef

Rhett began his career in Brisbane where he served his apprenticeship at a range of establishments which gave him a rich diversity of cooking experiences. After proving his professional and creative talents at the prestigious Icebergs in Sydney under celebrity chef Robert Marchetti, he was offered the role of head chef at the exclusive Astra Lodge in Falls Creek, where he created an award-winning menu. He has been head chef at Jellyfish restaurant for four years.

Rhys Badcock: 29, NSW/WA, Head Chef

At 14 Rhys moved from the Sunshine Coast to Byron Bay to be with his father. Since starting his apprenticeship at 18, he has gone where the work has taken him. Beginning his apprenticeship at Driftwood Estate, he moved onto Cape Lodge where he worked with Tony Howell, whom he credits for teaching him to cook. He has since worked as a certified chef at Dunk Island, a sous chef at Bespoke in Brisbane and as head chef on the Kimberley Quest for the past three years.

Sarah Knights: 27, NSW, Head Chef

Sarah left high school in Year 10 to begin her apprenticeship and has been working in professional kitchens since she was 15 years old. She moved to Sydney in the third year of her apprenticeship, working at est under Peter Doyle. Sarah worked at Bistro CBD, then Bistro Ortolan, before travelling overseas to work as a private chef to an English family. This took her on board a super yacht where she met chef Scott Wade, who is now her partner. Last year Sarah and Scott returned to Sydney together and Sarah began work at Uccello and is now in head chef at Plunge restaurant.

Tracey Holerness: 47, NSW, Chef

Yorkshire-born Tracey has left her entire family in England to follow career opportunities to Australia. Her 28 years in the industry have given her some incredible experience including a stint at The Dorchester Hotel. She was Commis Chef at 90 Park Lane Restaurant when it was awarded a Michelin Star. As Chef Garde Manager on the QEII Cruise Liner, Tracey was one of the first female chefs on the luxury cruiser. Other career highlights include working as the executive sous chef at the Olympic Games in Sydney and cooking a State banquet for Queen Elizabeth II and the Sheik of Bahrain.


1 brain dead dave { 12.09.12 at 9:31 pm }

If one is a private chef to the rich and famous , I’d assume that one is on enough of a roll to avoid appearances on the crass carnival of culinary kitsch that is Ma$terchef.

If this clashes with MKR, I won’t bother with it.

2 Cheryl { 12.10.12 at 1:18 am }

Mostly proper chefs, a fair few of them from Michelin star or hatted restaurants although often at low levels, sounds like these guys are on par with the ones recruited for UK Masterchef Professionals so I am very happy with this cast.

3 Rob { 12.10.12 at 6:54 am }

Lots of chatter on other sites about the casting being Sydney/Melbourne-centric. Parochial Australia strikes again, if there’s no South or Western Australians, those markets will likely suffer in the numbers.

4 A.P { 12.10.12 at 7:22 am }

Rob, I’m from Qld, originally NSW and I agree that the chefs should have been from other states as well as these and VIC. I’m sure there must be plenty of good qualified chefs in WA, SA, TAS, NT, ACT who would have liked the chance to compete, even though I don’t think the show is based on state by state rivalry as in MKR.
I’m with BDD, I won’t be watching it if it clashes with MKR, but I will probably tape and watch later.

5 Joseph Skyrim { 12.10.12 at 9:34 am }

So Bonny is deaf? Hmm how will she hear Marco’s “I want my quail” (x10)? Didn’t think hearing aids could assist the truly deaf but I haven’t really been following that tech lately.

6 Culinary Boner { 12.10.12 at 9:35 am }

Herein lies the problem for this show, should Shine and Ten try their usual ‘personality’ based approach with back stories and the like. Frankly I don’t give a flying fuck on a private jet with Ajay about the trials and tribulations this lot have previously faced as they’ve ascended or descended the culinary career escalator.

What I want is a proper opportunity to get to know their personalities by seeing how they perform under pressure doing difficult but meaningful cooking tasks.

Instead I’m anticipating I’ll be watching Manu flirt* with a couple of MILFs while he mangles the English language.

* Yes, yes, I’m being very generous here, but leering and raising your eyebrow seductively still counts as flirting if its done to a backing track of Franglais and day-old garlic breath.

7 Golo i Wesolo { 12.10.12 at 9:38 am }

@ 3/4: Well, considering Queensland contestants make up 22% of this year’s casting, and 20% of Australians live in Queensland, I’d say that state has done quite well too. Kind of destabilises those “VIC/NSW-centric” theories of yours.

And none of the other states matter, anyway; I can’t name one respectable restaurant in SA, WA or Tasmania off the top of my head. Why include contestants from those states just for the sake of including them?

8 A.P { 12.10.12 at 9:44 am }

Golo, thats what I was referring to, there are more than enough contestants from QLD, NSW and Vic, but none from anywhere else.

9 Reality Raver { 12.10.12 at 9:45 am }

Oh Golo controversial I think BDD might have something to say about that. Though I think Tasmanians are the ones that are normally ignored in reality shows.

10 JK { 12.10.12 at 10:11 am }

I only read half way…. I do look forward to this!

11 A.P { 12.10.12 at 10:17 am }

RR, best reality show contestant ever from Big Brother was Reggie from Tasmania, go Tassie!

12 smauge { 12.10.12 at 10:27 am }

BDD – Get thee to the 21st century and buy a PVR. We are beyond being stuck watching just one show over another.
CB – Manu doesn’t mangle the English language. He enhances it.

13 brain dead dave { 12.10.12 at 11:20 am }

Thanks smauge, I’ll think about it after I’ve got a mobile phone. There’s no excuse for not watching more television. Wish it was 1975 still.

I too enjoy the challenge of trying to understand Manu.

14 brain dead dave { 12.10.12 at 12:04 pm }

The problem for Golo(#7) is that S.A. restaurants don’t have troughs for him to eat out of.

15 daisy { 12.10.12 at 1:44 pm }

If it was really just about the cooking, I might watch Jamie Oliver, Maggie Bear (however), or Nigella. Bring on the cooked-up drama.

16 smauge { 12.10.12 at 3:28 pm }

BDD – Well it would at least be colour TV if it’s 1975 you want.

17 Ron { 12.10.12 at 8:27 pm }

Sadly Maggie Beer is SA based so she’s not invited.

18 Reality Raver { 12.10.12 at 9:07 pm }

Ron – South Australian’s will just have to seek comfort in the fact that South Australians won MKR this year.

19 Picnic { 12.11.12 at 10:57 am }

There are only 2 VIC chefs, so VIC is pretty much under represented

20 brain dead dave { 12.11.12 at 11:04 am }

It’s as if the Australian Test Cricket selectors have chosen the chefs.

I sickeningly observed one of them profusely sweating over food in the promo. What place does human waste have in Ma$terchef cuisine? Some things never change.

What price detritus- free dining, $hine ?

21 sittingbison { 12.20.12 at 3:33 pm }

I have to disagree with gollum at #7. Over here in Perth we have many fine dining establishments, with a wide range of international cuisine. Hawaii Roast Chicken at Le Coq Rouge, grass fed Angus beef at Jaques, Italian at Dominoes are favourites, and within a short drive from all leafy green suburbs!

22 Daisy { 12.20.12 at 4:08 pm }

Speaking of troughs, has anyone ever noticed that at HJs and Maccas people shovel the food into their mouths? I have to laugh when they ask will you be “DINING” in? “NO, but I will be staying to shovel as much burger and fries into my face as poossible whilst slooshing your mayo out of the sides of my mouth.” Is it possible to actually “dine” at a ff joint? I suppose it depends on what you think of as dining.
Perhaps when I go to a ff joint I will take a nice linen tablecloth, some cutlery and some china plates. Then I might say, “Yes, I am here to dine.” But before I set my table I will have to wash all the goop that’s left all over the table and on the seat from the last group of diners.
BTW In our town Maccas is kept cleaner than HJs which is DISGUSTING most of the time. I have even seen slag/snot on the window. Or perhaps it was mayo.

23 A.P { 12.20.12 at 4:15 pm }

Daisy, yeah those places can be a bit grotty. I always seem to pick up other people’s rubbish.
I hate the Hungry Jacks ad when the guy demands a thickshake over and over without so much as a please or thank you, really rude and a bad example for kids.
Daisy, check your mail at The Silk Caravan, maybe Monday, you may have a surprise from me.

24 JaniceG { 12.31.12 at 10:00 pm }

Just finished watching the UK Masterchef Professionals and that has made me even less willing to put up with the gimmicky Channel 10 stunts that are in the long promos. Why can’t Australian MasterChef just concentrate on the cooking like the UK version instead of MPW screaming, contestants cooking on a tram line, etc.? Just the cooking is interesting enough, honestly!

25 Helen { 03.17.13 at 12:38 pm }

I actually enjoyed watching this series – finale is tonight and I think Sarah will win. She is clearly the best chef there and nicest. Rhett is her biggest competition but he’s arrogant and thinks he’s the best (so I don’t like him naturally). Usually MC is quite boring, everyone crying but this is the first time I have watched the entire show every week. Love MPW, even though he shouts and repeats himself, that’s how he works, it’s not put on, he’s trained the best so you could say he deserves a bit of respect. I think we were lucky to have him on the show, imagine if it was some other top chef, I don’t think the show would have been so successful.