MasterChef Australia Season 6 chefs - Sarah Todd, Emelia Jackson and Renae Smith - are in Mumbai this weekend. And they're keen to go the whole hog with India's food-scape. Yoshita Sengupta set up a rapid fire round to see how the trio fared outside the studio kitchen
Q. First thought about India?
Sarah Todd: Dosa for breakfast!
Renae Smith: Colour — the colour of the spices, of the clothing and the incredible brightness of the people that call India home.
Emelia Jackson: Food!
(From left) Sarah Todd, Renae Smith and Emelia Jackson
Q. The most difficult challenge you've faced as a professional post-MasterChef Australia?
Sarah: My main focus, as a professional, has been to grow and learn as much as I can from the cuisines around the world and to get to know my style of cooking.
Renae: After leaving MasterChef, the hardest thing is to return to normal life. We are locked up in a house for so long with no phone, no Internet and are not even allowed to leave the house. When you have to return to reality, it is a bit hard to adjust.
Emelia: Definitely, making wedding cakes. They are very time-consuming, and I usually crack it about six hours in and start crying!
Q. Your favourite guest chef at MasterChef Australia and why (you get to pick one)?
Sarah: I was so disappointed that I missed meeting Vikas Khanna. He was the guest chef for the week in which I was eliminated. I had the opportunity to meet him on my last trip to India. I am certain he would have been my favourite guest chef.
Renae: Vikas (Khanna)! When Vikas walked into the studio, I think it was obvious from my face that I was incredibly excited. He is an incredible Indian chef, who is leading the way for Indian food in a modern world. Not only that, but he has this calmness, and when you're in an elimination challenge, you need people like that around you.
Emelia: My favourite guest chef was Martin Benn from Sepia. I loved his challenge — the chocolate forest floor — and he was a genuine and kind teacher.
Q. One thing you wouldn't want to leave India without doing?
Sarah: When in India, all I ever think about is food. This time, I want to squeeze in a little more sightseeing.
Renae: Eating all the curry I can. I love curry so much; I want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I want to try every curry and learn as much as
Emelia: I want to visit a Bollywood set! I also want to eat everything that I can fit in, in the next week!
Q. Your worst food nightmare?
Sarah: When I made blackened chicken. It didn't turn out as I had planned. I have revisited this dish and will share with you just how beautiful it can be.
Renae: It would be having to cook something "whole". I know people love cooking lamb on a spit or a whole suckling pig, etc. That, however, for me would be traumatic. If I have to cook meat, then I can, but if I had to cook it when it looked like the whole animal, it would make me very upset.
Emelia: (Cooking with) Peaches! They are furry and make me uncomfortable.
Q. Your favourite 'pick-me-up' snack/indulgence?
Sarah: Chocolate is absolutely my indulgence. I have been regularly making my five-minute fudge and topping it with chopped pistachios, freshly torn basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Renae: I love to make these "raw balls" with almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, cacao and dates. I make them into little balls and freeze them, they taste just like cookie dough, but they're healthy. I can eat about 10 of them everyday!
Emelia: Chocolate; it probably makes up 75% of my diet!
Q. If you had to whip up a meal for one celebrity, it would be...
Sarah: Well, with the World Cup on right now and my trip to India, I think it's only fitting that I say Sachin Tendulkar.
Renae: I love Jamie Oliver. I know it's a cliché, but having someone who appreciates food and gets so excited to pass their love onto others is fantastic. Dinner with him would be lighthearted and we'd have a fantastic time.
Emelia: I would cook for Jared Leto because he's a babe!
Q. The one thing in your fridge or pantry that would surprise people.
Sarah: Ghee. I use it for everything when I’m cooking instead of vegetable oil.
Renae: I love ice blocks, we have the ones called ZooperDoopers and they’re not very healthy — they’re basically frozen cordial. It’s my special little treat and I don’t care if they’re made for children.
Emelia: Hmm...I’m not sure. I have a lot of things in there; the surprise would be how messy my pantry is.
Q. In which city/restaurant would you eat your last meal on earth?
Sarah: Nothing better than a childhood favourite meal cooked by your mum at home.
Renae: Newtown, Sydney, where I live. Although, I want to travel and my dream is to see Paris one day, I feel so comfortable and at peace at home in Newtown. There are so many great vegetarian restaurants there and the people are so free spirited. I’d like my last meal to be at a place I feel perfectly at home.
Emelia: New York, it’s my favourite city in the world that has some absolutely outstanding restaurants.
Q. A cuisine or a dish you wish never existed (and why)?
Sarah: Coq au vin. This was the dish that put me into elimination and had me eliminated the first time. I’ve still never made the dish.
Renae: Eel! Anything with eel in it should not exist. Those animals are terrifying and I would like it if they didn’t even exist in the world, not just in cuisine!
Emelia: None. I love food of all types and love trying new things.
The three chefs will be at The Great Food Show at Nehru Centre, Worli, from February 28 to March 1.
Log on to bookmyshow.com/thegreatfoodshow/for passes