It’s culi­nary com­bat as Master Chef’s top three face their fi­nal re­al­ity

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

WHAT would a Master Chef com­pe­ti­tion be with­out con­tes­tants dish­ing some good dirt – not just serv­ing it on a plate?

Bil­lie McKay, Ge­or­gia Barnes and Jes­sica Arnott have re­mained firm friends through the con­test; the de­sire to be crowned this year’s win­ner re­quired each to put aside allegiances and get down to the busi­ness of win­ning.

It’s a fo­cus they all pos­sess in the kitchen but, away from it, can be easily per­suaded to ig­nore in favour of good, old-fash­ioned fun. And they had plenty of that in the house.

Cock­tail spe­cial­ist Arnott led the way when it came to mis­chief- mak­ing – or so McKay says. “She made us mock­tail mo­ji­tos one night – they were fun.”

Whether that was the same night Barnes danced around the kitchen “like a pony” the trio weren’t telling.



PLAGUED by self-doubt, Arnott de­fied her own con­fi­dence is­sues to make the fi­nal. An award­win­ning bar­tender, her food dream to open a “char­cu­terie deli, crossed with a bar” re­mains on track. Her stand­out chal­lenge was the bar­be­cue cook-off her team won.

“I love that kind of cook­ing and get­ting to work on those ma­chines was not only a dream come true but just awe­some.” But her per­fec­tion­ist streak was both a help and a hin­drance.

“It is a big part of the rea­son why I got so far. I chat­ted with the judges at one stage and they were al­ways try­ing to push me to not be so hard on my­self, but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t reach the lev­els I have. It’s a dou­ble-edged sword.”

STRENGTH: Barnes says “big flavours and Asian cui­sine” are Arnott’s strengths. “She cooked these sal­ads and dishes in the house with Ja­panese flavours and they were spec­tac­u­lar.”

WEAK­NESS: Barnes says “dessert and pas­try”, while McKay adds “they both don’t be­lieve in them­selves enough”.


McKay says Arnott makes “a mean mock­tail mo­jito”, while Barnes adds “she had this ob­ses­sion with colour-cod­ing the fruit bowl”.


RE­GARDED as the one to beat, the Bal­lina res­tau­rant man­ager ad­mits her suc­cess has been “80 per cent men­tal strength and 20 per cent cook­ing”.

Cool un­der pres­sure, her cre­ativ­ity and time man­age­ment will be key in the fi­nal.

“I’d al­ways watched the show and dreamt about do­ing it, but never re­ally, se­ri­ously thought about au­di­tion­ing. My part­ner Hay­den re­ally pushed me to ap­ply.

“The last [dead­line] came up and he said, ‘What have you got to lose? You ei­ther get re­jected and you keep go­ing, or you get a chance at do­ing it’.”


Arnott says “Bil­lie has grown ex­po­nen­tially. She’s the big­gest per­son to beat. I tend to get a bit flappy un­der pres­sure, but Bil­lie is an alien – she never gets flus­tered”.

WEAK­NESS: “Does Bil­lie have weak­nesses?” asks Barnes. “Dammit, she’s the per­fect hu­man.” Arnott adds: “It will just come down to whether she picks the right menu.”


Barnes re­veals “when we first moved into the house, Bil­lie for­got her py­ja­mas and had to sleep in nor­mal clothes. She’s also amaz­ing at jug­gling”.


COM­PARED to Master Chef’s first win­ner Julie Good­win by judge Gary Me­hi­gan, Barnes is the most per­son­able, but also the most tested. Her un­ri­valled grasp of the ba­sics, and bril­liant track record when it comes to bak­ing has earned her a right­ful place in the fi­nal three.

Over­com­ing those chal­lenges (in­clud­ing sur­viv­ing more than nine pres­sure tests and elim­i­na­tions) was helped by stay­ing con­nected with her fam­ily through letters.

“Read­ing letters from loved ones I found re­ally ground­ing and re­minded me of where I came from and why I was there.”

STRENGTH: McKay says, “Ge­or­gia has a re­ally good knowl­edge of pas­try and all the ba­sics. You can give her any­thing and she can make ab­so­lutely any­thing out of it and be re­ally cre­ative.”

WEAK­NESS: Arnott says, “She’s a lot like me and can tend to get quite stressed and over­whelmed by things and a bit flappy like I do”.

SE­CRET: Arnott says: “Ge­or­gia is just bonkers when she re­laxes. You can tell we’re hav­ing a good night when she starts run­ning around the kitchen like a pony.”

Se­cret in­gre­di­ents: Jes­sica Arnott, Bil­lie McKay and Ge­or­gia Barnes have made it to the fi­nal three in MasterChef Aus­tralia.

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