Food: Q&A with 3 contestants from MasterChef Australia

Three top contestants from the upcoming season of MasterChef Australia share all about their spills, successes and fun moments within and outside of the kitchen. the guide listens in

Georgia Barnes
"Families should prepare their meals in their own kitchens"

This Queensland resident is a nutritionist
This Queensland resident is a nutritionist

Q. How important is fresh produce in a fast-food infused generation?
A. Hugely important. There is a big problem globally, in terms of fast food. I feel shows like MasterChef put the excitement back into people because we need to think about produce and about what food we are fuelling our bodies with. Cooking is such a beautiful thing, and it is important that families prepare their meals in their own kitchens. We need to do that for the next generation.

Q. Your favourite quick-fix meal suggestion would be...
A. I love soups. If I need a quick dinner, I always make soup (laughs). So, I would use pumpkins, sweet potatoes and fresh herbs, and add yogurt on top. It would be like a spiced pumpkin soup with yogurt and coriander.

Q. Your kitchen malfunction moment is...
A. I've lit a lot of things on fire (laughs). There was one with a blowtorch, another with a barbeque.

Q. Your favourite go-to ingredient/ underrated ingredient would be...
A. I love honey and strawberry. Also, there's a lot more you can do with seafood than what people originally do, as it has so much flavour. For instance, with prawns, you can use the head, shell and the flesh. Green vegetables are underrated. You can do so many things with them and they have a lot of flavour.

Q. Any Indian dish that you have tried? What was it like?
A. I love Indian food. I am not very good at cooking it but I love to eat Indian. My favourite is lentil dal, pakora or vegetable pakora; it's so delicious.

Q. Where have you eaten your most memorable meal in another country?
A. I haven't been to India otherwise I would say India (laughs). I love Greece. We ate a lamb dish there that was grilled with oregano, salt, pepper and lemon. It was accompanied with salad and fresh bread. It was so simple and remains one of the best meals I've ever had.

Billie MacKay
"Visiting India is on top of my list"

Billie MacKay

Q. What was your biggest lesson while growing up in the dairy farm that helped you in the MasterChef kitchen?
A. My work ethics helped me in the MasterChef Kitchen. I worked hard to get it done.

Q. Your quick-fix meal fix is...
A. Seafood is one of my favourites and it's quick to make. I love prawn; I make a dish out of the head, the tails and the shells, with lot of veggies. I poach the prawns in that stock.

Q. Your Kitchen malfunction moment
A. Lots! Sometimes, I get carried away and it has happened a few times at MasterChef. I forgot what I was doing and I ended up burning something that I was cooking.

Q. Your favourite go-to ingredient/ underrated ingredient would be ...
A. Coconut and a lot of  different spices.

Q. Have you tried any Indian dish? What was the experience?
A. Actually in the house, Jamie (another participant) cooked a lot of different Indian dishes and he did a fish curry; I forgot what it was called but it was so aromatic and he used a lot of spices, and coconut. I want to learn about Indian food because I think it is beautiful, fresh and unlike any other cuisine. I haven't been to India, so that is something on top of my list — to get there and try the food. I've dropped by a few Indian restaurants in New South Wales where I loved the fish curry.

Q. Your most memorable meal in another country would be...
A. I actually haven't done a lot of travelling. I've been working for most my life up until MasterChef Australia, so I haven't travelled much. I plan to do a bit more travelling when I get over to the UK to work and try different types of food.

Jessica Arnott
"My biggest danger in the kitchen is me"

Jessica Arnott

Q. What element of mixology would you bring into the MasterChef kitchen?
A. I think that the creative element of coming up with cocktails will help me a lot. I've always tried to come up with things on the spot for customers and make things they like, at the top of my head, so I'm hoping that will help me in the kitchen.

Q. Your favourite quick-fix meal suggestion...
A. Everything that I make in my house is like a quick meal. I store a lot of vegetables in my fridge. As long as I can chop everything up nice and fine, and I always have good olive oil and interesting vinegars in my fridge, so it's possible to make anything taste good. A good meal could even be just a nice piece of meat and a lovely fennel (laughs).

Q. Your kitchen malfunction moment...
A. The biggest kitchen malfunction (laughs) I've had is cutting myself. I was shucking some oysters recently and managed to slip and cut my fingers. So, my biggest danger in the kitchen to me.

Q. Your go-to ingredient and  underrated ingredient are...
A. My spice cabinet! I never cook meals without my spices. It doesn't matter, what vegetables or meat it is, but I know I can always make it taste good if I get to my spice cupboard (laughs). One favourite vegetable at the moment is fresh fennel. You can eat it cooked, or raw.

Q. Tell us about your brush with Indian cuisine.
A. My boyfriend and I love chilly beans. I love my spice cabinet, so I love pretty much all Indian food that I've had. I know it's so Australian, and it's so lame but I love Rogan Josh (laughs).

Q. Your most memorable meal in another country would be...
A. I love Japanese food; it's one of my favourites. I go to Japan every year. We ski a lot while in Japan. I recall eating this lunch meal there, which was a big bowl of ramen with broccoli, pork and noodles or any kind of seafood. Eating ramen on the ski hill in Japan is one of my favourite meals in the world.

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