Lay­ing down the law to food show con­test

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Food - By LYNN GRIERSON

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.

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