Laying down the law to food show contest
WEST Perth criminal lawyer Benjamin Bullock has the right ingredients to wow audiences and impress the judges in the latest series of a popular cooking game show.
The 27-year-old developed an early love and appreciation for sustainable food from his father, who worked as a sheep and wheat farmer.
“I don’t know if Mum would like this, but I think I may have learnt to cook as a means of survival,” he joked.
“The thing is, Mum hates cooking and from a young age I took an interest in food and cooking with my aunt and my grandmother.”
Benjamin said growing up in a family with Greek and Australian influences meant holiday and family celebrations were big affairs, with food a primary focus.
Meat featured large on the menu and the ability to present a traditional roast was not lost on the Masterchef contestant in his first audition for the Network 10 show.
He secured his place in the popular series with his version of the family favourite, augmented with Tasmanian mountain pepper berries and Geraldton wax flowers, and last Monday he went on to reach the top 24 in the competition.
“I do cook daily for myself, and often for family and friends; it’s a hobby and a passion. I ‘blame’ Masterchef for that because I was about 16 years old when I watched the first season and cooked the Christmas feast.
“I smoked a barramundi in paperbark and cooked a pig’s head as seen in the show.”
After graduating from Guildford Grammar in 2006, Benjamin studied law and commerce at Murdoch University and in his final year was one of six students nationally selected to compete for the Law Student of the Year Award, the pinnacle of his academic achievements.
Benjamin broadened his education further through travel, taking a year off to drive across the US in a van for three months with his best mate.
The trip cemented his love of big, bold flavours and he learnt to cook Texan-style barbecues before trekking through Canada, where he worked under a fleish meister (a German meat master).
A year of tasting and experimenting with cuisine styles gave Benjamin the confidence to experiment with cooking techniques.
Life is good for the co-director of a law firm, but food remains his passion and he cites French-born, Mundaring chef Alain Fabregues (formerly of The Loose Box) as his food idol.
“Cooking is my creative outlet and maybe that’s why I’m attracted to it,” Benjamin said. “I like Alain’s approach to cooking because it’s good classic, proper food, from the paddock to the plate; he has the connection to land and is committed to sustainability.”
Benjamin is likely to find any pastry and dessert cooking the most challenging parts of the competition because he prefers to avoid creating dishes loaded with sugars and fats.
“For now, I’m learning about cooking and in five years time I hope to open a small restaurant focusing on fresh, locally grown, seasonal, sustainable and organic produce,” he said.
West Perth lawyer Benjamin Bullock wears his Top 24 apron with pride.