Ja­pan visit trans­forms ri­vals

Broome Advertiser - - Lifestyle -

From try­ing char­coal pig’s in­testines to cook­ing in the foothills of Mt Fuji and flog­ging street food in a Shin­juku al­ley­way, Ta­mara Graf­fen’s ex­pe­ri­ence in Ja­pan with her MasterChef com­rades was a feast for the senses.

Af­ter reach­ing the culi­nary com­pe­ti­tion’s top nine, the Broome cook was over the moon when it was an­nounced they would be head­ing to Ja­pan for a week of gas­tro­nomic ex­pe­ri­ences.

Graf­fen had vis­ited the coun­try twice al­ready so she was al­ready a con­nois­seur of Ja­panese cui­sine but she said the trip gave her fresh in­spi­ra­tion for her dishes.

“Go­ing to Ja­pan, where there is such a re­spect for pro­duce and every­thing is about pre­ci­sion, it def­i­nitely gives you a dif­fer­ent mind­set when you’re cook­ing,” she said.

“The judges said that ‘chefs who have spent time in Ja­pan have come back with this dif­fer­ent phi­los­o­phy about food’, so we felt very in­spired.”

Dur­ing the so­journ, the con­tes­tants ex­plored Tokyo and ven­tured into the coun­try­side while en­gag­ing in new food chal­lenges and eat­ing ra­men and matcha ice-cream ev­ery day.

But the real high­light for Graf­fen was spend­ing qual­ity time with her eight op­po­nents, with whom she has grown close while liv­ing in the MasterChef house.

“I think it was the first time in the com­pe­ti­tion where we re­ally got to let our hair down a bit,” she said.

“Be­ing with a bunch of food­ies and be­ing ad­ven­tur­ous was so fun.

“We had some pig’s in­tes­tine grilled over char­coal, which was in­ter­est­ing but any­thing slathered in a yak­i­tori sauce is de­li­cious.

“I think the lan­guage bar­rier helped be­cause we didn’t al­ways know what we were eat­ing.”

Graf­fen hoped her knowl­edge of Ja­pan would be an ad­van­tage and added the time abroad made her re­think her game plan.

“Some­times it’s easy to for­get that the judges just want de­li­cious food,” she said.

“You can be cre­ative and inventive but, at the end of the day, it needs to be a dish that peo­ple just want to dive back into.”

MasterChef con­tes­tants Arum Nixon, Eloise Praino, Ben Unger­mann, Diana Chan, Cal­lan Smith, Kar­lie Verk­erk, Ta­mara Graf­fen, Eliza Wil­son and Sarah Tiong in Ja­pan.

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