Masterchef Australia – We Have Our Top 24 – Looks Good But Still A Contestant Who Can’t Fillet Fish
It is series six of Masterchef Australia and even this year there are contestants arriving at the top 50 who have not filleted fish. Nick the young law student from Newcastle excuse was he grew up in a inland town. Last time I looked Newcastle had a coast line.
He was lucky in the first challenge the remaining contestants vying for a spot in the top 24 where he had choose between three skills to showcase one was making pastry. He made a nice looking Chocolate Frangipane Tart with Poached Pear which got him an apron. Expect to go down like a sack of potatoes when he has to cook savoury.
The other two skills they had to show was butchery or filleting a fish.
Which brings us to Byron a 27 year old deck hand. Is he going to be this year’s Sam from Season 1 or Daniel from last year? A contestant with limited skills that will manage to bumble his way into the top 10. This bloke showed little cooking or thinking skills. Byron who said he flew home from the US and left his girlfriend behind to get his chance to be on the show.
George asked him what is girlfriend, who by the way is smoking hot, thought about him leaving. I thought he would say “Well she has tasted my cooking so knows I will be back in a week” but he did not. In the first round he plated up Jerk Chicken, with Street Corn and Caramelised Pineapple. Then he had his first brain explosion of the night and he put on a mango cheek face down on the plate with the skin on. How were they meant to eat that? No surprise he had to cook again. This time he had to replicate a George Calombaris dessert which was a twist on Lemon, Lime and Bitters. First when he was inspecting the dish he broke the lime and then when he had to cook it he took half an hour out of the two hours to work out the recipe. Others took 10 minutes.
He did catch up but then made another mistake of putting the lime mixture in the lime instead of the lemon. Lucky for him his mousse was good and others had had worst dishes and he managed to get the last apron to the top 24.
Hamish the electrician who had been getting a lot of air time was eliminated after the first round after he made a Quail and Leek Pie where the inside looked like baby sick.
Ashleigh the 66 year old retired publisher acknowledged she had stuffed up in the 75 minute time frame by trying to make a large quiche lorraine instead of just an individual one. It was under cooked and she was eliminated.
Jamie 25 year old a bartender from Sydney a young dad supporting his family had better luck. His Chicken with celeriac puree and carrots was described by George as “Gold”. He will be known as hipster dad.
Renae a 30 year old Brand Developer and single mum said she was brought up a vegetarian and was still learning to cook protein showed that all those videos of watching butchery paid off. She made a delicious Moroccan Lamb Salad. In fact Matt Preston thought it was dish of the day. She gets kudos for studying before coming on the show and managed to cook the lamb medium rare. Something that was rarely seen on MKR.
The top 24 made up of 14 females and ten males, and over 25 per cent appear to be non-anglo. However hopefully they will all be able to cook.
Here are the top 24:
Laura Cassai, 18, South Australia, Health Science Student
Growing up in Templestowe, Victoria, Laura now lives on a vineyard in McLaren Vale, South Australia,
overlooking the Gulf of St Vincent after moving there in 2013. With a rich Italian heritage, Laura grew
up under the watchful eyes of her Nonna Maria and Nonna Rosa. Laura’s connection to her Italian
roots strengthened when the family lived in Tuscany for two years, when she was aged six.
Steven Peh, 20, Western Australia, Commerce Student
Working as a waiter at Nobu, Perth, Steven has seen some of the finest cuisine on offer. It’s a role
that has made him realise his skill and passion for food needs to be harnessed in the kitchen. Born in
WA’s Pilbara region, Steven’s first memories are of red dust in the town of Newman, before the Peh
family moved to Perth when he was three.
Ben Macdonald, 36, Queensland, IT Systems Consultant
Ben grew up two hours north of Auckland in Whangarei, New Zealand. After gaining an Honours
degree in Manufacturing and Industrial Technology, Ben travelled overseas. He has since worked in
the US, France, Denmark, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and – for the majority of his career – the UK.
Ben’s love of food intensified as he indulged his love of travel from his UK base, clocking up visits to
almost 100 countries.
Emily Loo, 31, Queensland, Resort Sales Coordinator
Emily Loo is known as the Spice Queen among family and friends and celebrated for her signature
dish, Sarawak laksa. Born in Borneo, Emily is the youngest of three children. Her Malaysian-Chinese
heritage brings with it plenty of flavour and a well-honed appreciation of spices.
Byron Finnerty, 27, Victoria, Deckhand
Turning his back on the high life and the high seas, Byron Finnerty is ready to take his place in the
MasterChef Australia kitchen. Byron has spent the past two years travelling the world as a deckhand
on the super yacht Odessa. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Owen
Wilson, Byron couldn’t deny his love of food any longer.
Tash Shan, 27, Australian Capital Territory, Social Media Manager
Canberra-based Tash Shan comes to the MasterChef Australia kitchen with the weight of the
nation’s capital on her shoulders. For five years she’s watched on, impatiently awaiting citizenship to
finally live her dream of cooking in Australia’s most famous kitchen. Born in Malaysia, Tash moved to
Melbourne aged 19 to pursue a double degree in Law and Communications.
Brendan Langfield, 26, Queensland, Retail Manager
Brisbane-based Retail Manager Brendan Langfield knows a thing or two about being in the limelight.
Having spent a good deal of his life behind a bass guitar in pop-rock band Finabah, it’s now time to
don an apron in the MasterChef Australia kitchen. With Finabah, Brendan enjoyed some success
including having the most added song on radio one week. The band has toured alongside
Wolfmother, Spiderbait, Kate Miller-Heidke and Amy Meredith.
Cecilia Vuong, 31, Victoria, Secondary School Teacher
Cecilia lived in Italy while growing up, moving to Australia aged 10. She began really experimenting
with her cooking in 2008 and particularly loves baking. Cecilia would love to have her own café and to
teach cooking skills to others. Recently enduring brain surgery following a skiing injury, Cecilia’s love
of food has intensified during her recovery as she explores her creative side.
Jamie Fleming, 25, New South Wales, Bar Tender
Growing up in Adelaide, Jamie and younger brother Luke, now 22, had well-developed palettes.
Jamie decided he wanted to be a chef at age six, mesmerised by the kitchen prep in a family friend’s
restaurant. He now lives with partner Rhiannon whom he met while staying with friends in Sydney in
2011. The pair were engaged within six months. Soon after they were expecting daughter Amelie,
who is now one year old. A second baby is on the way in 2014.
Emelia Jackson, 24, Victoria, Marketing Coordinator
Emelia – aka the Dessert Queen and famed for her panna cottas – was encouraged in the kitchen
from an early age. She remembers watching and learning from both her mum and Macedonian baba
(grandma). She would also get her hands dirty to help, kneading dough and baking treats. The
youngest child of a large family, Emelia says cooking is in her bones.
Kira Westwick, 31, Queensland, Nutritional Coach
At 31, Kira Westwick is not only a busy mum of two, but an accomplished businesswoman. She runs
two health and fitness studios on the Gold Coast with husband Adam. She’s also an accomplished
cook, focusing on healthy and nutritious ingredients and often incorporating raw food. Kira considers
daughters Jordan, six, and Madelyn, two years, her greatest achievement and loves nothing more
than sharing stories with her girls over the dinner table.
Tracy Collins, 38, South Australia, Hairdresser
Based in Angaston, seventh generation Barossan Tracy Collins is married to winemaker Jaysen and is
mum to daughter Finella, 11, and sons Harper, eight and Charlie, six. Jaysen is a winemaker and owns
a small winery, Massena Vineyards. Tracy is a business owner in her own right, having opened the
environmentally sustainable and awarded Green Room Salon and Spa in Angaston in 2010.
Nick Doyle, 22, New South Wales, Law Student
At 193cms, Nick Doyle is a gentle giant. Hailing from the tiny town of Gilgai, near Inverell in country
NSW, this boy from the bush grew up on 900 acres. Now he calls Newcastle home, where he’s the
first of his family to attend university. Nick’s earliest food memories are of his mum experimenting in
the kitchen. She was a big influence on young Nick and his passion for cooking began around age
Sam Gant, 26, Victoria, Kids Wear Designer
From a close-knit family of five, fashion designer Sam Gant grew up on a 20-hectare farm by the
coast near Geelong, indulging both her love of the water and the outdoors. Cooking came naturally
to Sam, who has been in the kitchen since she was five. She has memories of helping her mum and
prides herself on her strong sense of flavour, tasting and recreating recipes.
Sarah Todd, 27, Queensland, Model
Fresh from traveling the world on glamorous modelling assignments, Sarah Todd lands in the
MasterChef Australia kitchen with a point to prove and a new future to create. Sarah met fiancé
Devinder in Sydney in 2008 and credits him with really reigniting her passion for food. With his Indian
heritage, it was Devinder who taught her to play with flavours and learn to love experimenting in the
kitchen. In 2011 the pair welcomed son Phoenix.
Scott Yeoman, 32, South Australia, Carpenter
A knockabout Aussie bloke, Scott is a big kid at heart who is hoping to find that special girl. He loves
spending time at the family’s shack on the Murray River and relaxes by playing both guitar and
drums. A self-taught cook and a quick learner, Scott loves nothing more than cooking for friends and
housemates, trying out new recipes on them. While ready to earn his Certificate IV in Building and
Construction, Scott feels that MasterChef Australia is a chance to change his life and give him the
chance to open a little bar in Adelaide with live music, seasonal food and a cosy open fire.
Nicole Cleave, 55, Western Australia, Inflight Manager
While Nicole Cleave might be the eldest contender in the 2014 MasterChef kitchen, this mum of four
has as much get-up-and-go as her younger counterparts. From Middlesex in the UK, Nicole and older
brother Bob grew up fast after their mother passed away when Nicole was just six. Joining the
workforce at age 18 as a flight attendant, Nicole worked in the UK and then Bahrain. In 1988 she
moved to Sydney and married her long-distance Aussie love Kim.
Brent Owens, 24, Victoria, Bobcat Driver
Most days, this fiercely independent, hard-working young man can be found behind the wheel of a
bobcat. But increasingly, his mind is elsewhere, dreaming up menus. Describing himself as a bad boy
turned good, Brent, from Melton in Victoria, might have a tough exterior, but he’s a big softie at
heart, and maybe even a bit of a nerd deep down. Brent lives with his girlfriend of six years, Madison,
and works for her father Laurence’s excavation business.
Amy Shields, 37, Western Australia, Learning Systems Administration
Born in Johanesburg, Amy moved to Perth with her family aged 24 as her dad, now passed on, was
Australian. Amy lives with husband Craig, and her close-knit family are all nearby. With aspirations to
write a best-selling cookbook, Amy wants to make food accessible to people. She would love to run
cooking classes to inspire home cooks with simple flavours and ingredients.
Deepali Behar, 30, Western Australia, Dentist
Hailing from Wigan in the UK, Deepali Behar moved to Secret Harbour, WA, four years ago with then
boyfriend Jordan. A dentist by trade, Deepali once had a research project published in the respected
European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry. Although she loves what she does, she’s now ready to lay it
all on the line to compete in MasterChef Australia.
Colin Sheppard, 51, South Australia, Winemaker
A successful builder in Melbourne, Colin and wife Fiona were regular visitors to South Australia’s
beautiful wine regions. Always intrigued by the art of wine-making, Colin volunteered for four weeks
at Murray Street Wines in the Barossa. It sealed his fate. An impulsive decision followed and he called
Fiona to announce they were the proud owners of a vineyard. Soon after, they took up residence at
Flaxman Wines in the Eden Valley. Today they live there happily, with their dog Gus and four chooks.
Rachael Ciesiolka, 45, Northern Territory, Data Manger
A tough character who only knows a can-do attitude, Rachael has lived all over Australia, thanks to
her father and husband’s work: mines in the west, railways in the Territory and then Queensland for
the Australian Army Corp and the RAAF. By her count, she has lived in 24 different towns. Having had
a variety of jobs, Rachael joined the RAAF herself at age 27, serving her country as a dental nurse for
four years. Currently she is a contracted Data Manager with the RAAF in Darwin.
Sean Baxter, 31, Victoria, Brand Manager
The eldest of four kids growing up on cattle farm in Kilkivan Queensland, Sean learned to appreciate
fresh produce from an early age. His appreciation only deepened after attending boarding school in
Brisbane, where he says he learned about mass-produced food and its pitfalls. Now based in Victoria
with his girlfriend Cassie, Sean works as a Brand Manager and Ambassador for an alcohol company,
planning events and hosting training seminars and tasting experiences. He also judges cocktail
Renae Smith, 30, New South Wales, Brand Developer
Based in Newtown, Sydney, Renae grew up on the NSW Central Coast in a happy, albeit strict,
Jehovah’s Witness family. She fondly remembers spending time in the kitchen with her mum,
learning basic skills and techniques. Renae has two daughters, Kyah, 12, and Paris, 10, whom she
adores. She left the church six years ago, something she describes as an enormous challenge.
However, her attitude of turning negatives into positives has only helped define the strong character
she is today
The last word must go to previous winner Andy Allen who in the preview for tonight’s episode said when he came on the show he could not boil and egg. We know Andy, we know.
Masterchef Australia on TEN 7.30pm Monday to Thursday.