THEY DID WHAT?
AN audience with our next King is on the menu this season, as well as food royalty such as Gordon Ramsay, but MasterChef has been breaking the mould – and always full of surprises – for the 10 years it’s been on air.
Matt Preston believes both culinary stars and contestants sign up to appear on the program for the same reason.
“They like the fact contestants aren’t there to be targets for barbs,” he says.
“They’re there to be respected and to be celebrated and pushed forward, which is the great joy of the show.” IT was in that atmosphere that producers were able to lure the Dalai Lama (above) on the program, back in season three. While he was reluctant to pass judgment during the tasting, he charmed his way through the remarkable experience.
For the season’s eventual winner Kate Bracks, a devout Christian, it challenged her in unexpected ways.
“She was quite religious and had felt uncomfortable initially about meeting him. But when she did, she was truly touched by how spiritual he was. And you had to keep reminding yourself, he was on a cooking show,” Mehigan says. CONTESTANTS and the crew alike, have found themselves preparing to cook in some of the most spectacular and iconic places around the world.
From the banks of the Sienne in France to rice fields in China and Japan, the series has been a passport to international cuisine and culinary adventure. Preston counts the time they challenged finalists to cook at the United Nations in New York as a highlight.
“We [catered] a reception at the UN and launched that challenge on the floor of the General Assembly … the first ever show in the world to film there. It was unbelievable and truly amazing.” JAMIE Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal and Nigella Lawson built their profiles here by appearing on Australia’s most prestigious cooking competition. George Calombaris (above with Lawson) admits even he’s turned fan boy in the company of some of the industry luminaries the show has befriended. During a break in filming this season, Calombaris invited Lawson to his home for lunch and was shocked when she turned up at his front door. “If you had said to me 20 years ago, ‘One day you’ll be feeding Nigella Lawson osso bucco at your house on a Sunday arvo’, I’d say to you, ‘Have a spell.’