The show Mag­gie Beer can’t refuse

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The first time she ap­peared on MasterChef Aus­tralia back in sea­son two, Mag­gie Beer’s hands trem­bled as she plated up her sig­na­ture dish.

The Aus­tralian cook­ing leg­end doesn’t watch com­mer­cial TV so wasn’t aware of the show — or that she would be cook­ing against one of its con­tes­tants.

“I’m used to work­ing un­der time pres­sure, but un­der the cam­era pres­sure my hands were shak­ing like you wouldn’t be­lieve,” she re­calls.

“I didn’t think I cared whether I won or lost ... but I was re­lieved that I won.”

Since that 2010 ap­pear­ance, Beer has hap­pily vol­un­teered to come back every sea­son, say­ing that she’ll al­ways make time for the show.

“I just de­light in the con­tes­tants — and the boys ( judges Ge­orge Calom­baris, Matt Pre­ston and Gary Me­hi­gan) of course, but let’s talk about the con­tes­tants first,” she says.

“They’re putting their life on hold and they’re on this path to learn and in many cases find a new di­rec­tion and I ad­mire them so.

“And then the boys, they’re just three ras­cals re­ally. They have so much en­ergy and fun be­tween them that it’s never bor­ing, let me tell you.”

Beer re­turns to the show this Sun­day for a Mys­tery Box chal­lenge. But in keeping with the eighth sea­son of the hit re­al­ity se­ries, there’s a twist that comes along with it.

When the con­tes­tants en­ter the kitchen, they are stumped to see no mys­tery boxes on their benches. In­stead, Beer has picked three in­gre­di­ents for them to choose from to first per­form an in­ven­tion test.

The win­ner of that test then gains an ad­van­tage in the mys­tery box com­po­nent of the episode.

“It was all turned on its head,” Beer pre­views.

“This (chal­lenge) is quite tricky but I was re­ally de­lighted by the ingenuity and creativity of the con­tes­tants. They re­ally bring some things to the ta­ble that were very good.”

Beer was full of praise for the re­main­ing 15 con­tenders.

And she’s equally ef­fu­sive about her next TV cook­ing ad­ven­ture.

Beer is cur­rently film­ing a sec­ond sea­son of The Great Aus­tralian Bake Off for Fox­tel’s LifeStyle chan­nel. And she prom­ises that fans of the first se­ries won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

“Talk­ing about syn­er­gies be­tween peo­ple — work­ing with Matt (Mo­ran), he’s so cheeky I never know what’s go­ing to come out of his mouth,” she says.

“And then Claire (Hooper) and Mel (But­tle), the hosts, are the most de­light­ful, funny peo­ple. And the crew and the con­tes­tants are ter­rific. It’s the most pos­i­tive at­mos­phere. It’s gen­tle, it’s quite dif­fer­ent from any­thing else I’ve seen (on TV).”

MASTERCHEF AUS­TRALIA, CHAN­NEL 10, MON­DAY-THURS­DAY, SUN­DAY, 7.30PM

Mag­gie Beer re­turns for a Mys­tery Box chal­lenge... with a twist.

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