EX­QUIS­ITE AWARDS 2018

Exquisite Taste - - Front Page - By Amanda O’Con­nor

HON­OUR­ING THE BEST OF THE BEST OF DIN­ING, BARS AND BEACH CLUBS

Ben Unger­mann rose to fame in Aus­tralian MasterChef 2017, a gru­elling con­test for home cooks that is pop­u­lar around the world. Com­ing in sec­ond, just one point be­hind the win­ner, changed his life. Now trav­el­ling

the world, Ex­quis­ite Taste talks to Ben about what he is do­ing now and what the fu­ture holds for him.

: So since Aus­tralian MasterChef 2017, what have you been up to?

Ben: It's been busy! Apart from set­ting up an ice cream par­lour with my brother back home in Queens­land, I've pretty much been on this world tour.

: What is the tour about?

B: It's an op­por­tu­nity for me to do a lot of mas­ter­classes and meet and greets, as well as some char­ity events. When I was on Aus­tralian MasterChef I de­vel­oped a lot of fan sup­port, peo­ple who be­came en­gaged with me on the show, and I wouldn't be where I am now with this great life if it wasn't for them, so I de­cided to try and meet them in per­son.

: So you’re us­ing your po­si­tion to give back?

B: I'm in a very blessed po­si­tion now and it's a great op­por­tu­nity to im­pact where I can and give back. Like this Shar­ing is Car­ing char­ity din­ner at Padi Fine Din­ing in sup­port of Lom­bok with Chris Salans and Man­dif Warokka that Ex­quis­ite Me­dia has or­gan­ised. I'll be go­ing to Lom­bok soon to spend the pro­ceeds di­rectly on the peo­ple who need them. I'm just try­ing to change the world a lit­tle bit, where I can. In the Nether­lands I joined a group of chefs to help raise money to save a his­toric build­ing that was go­ing to be de­mol­ished in­stead of re­stored. I re­ally en­joy be­ing able to give back through food. For me, there's no greater love that I can share than cook­ing a meal that I've re­ally put my heart and soul into for peo­ple I care about.

: Dur­ing your trav­els, you’ve been col­lect­ing recipes. What are you go­ing to do with them?

B: I've al­ways wanted to bring out a cook­book, so I thought it would be a cool con­cept to pub­lish these recipes passed on from other chefs and re­ally great home cooks. They'll all be some­thing that you can cook at home but can maybe ex­pand peo­ple's culi­nary hori­zons.

: Is this global trip chang­ing you as a per­son?

B: Yes, it re­ally is. When I was on the show, and even as I started my trav­els, I se­ri­ously doubted my­self. As a TV per­son­al­ity a lot of peo­ple don't take you se­ri­ously, at the end of the day all the MasterChef con­tes­tants are home cooks with­out any training, so it was hard go­ing into great kitchens, but I've learned a lot and gained con­fi­dence.

: Are you en­joy­ing your time in all these kitchens?

B: Yes, I love to go in as a sponge and soak up as much as I can. Meet­ing so many amaz­ing chefs from dif­fer­ent walks of life, with dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests and dif­fer­ent cuisines has made me a much bet­ter cook.

: Do you have a favourite mem­ory from your trav­els?

B: My her­itage is Dutch-In­done­sian and I got to go on the Dutch ver­sion of MasterChef to set a mys­tery box and a pres­sure test, which I re­ally en­joyed. I also feel very at home in Jakarta and Bali.

: I hear that you’re mov­ing to In­done­sia; what are your plans?

B: I have a few pos­si­ble en­ter­tain­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Jakarta and I'm al­ready learn­ing to speak In­done­sian! I'm also learn­ing about In­done­sian prod­ucts and flavours so I can put my own twist on the food. It's some­thing I re­ally love do­ing. In­done­sian cui­sine is se­ri­ously de­li­cious and I'd love to find a way to bring it to more peo­ple. On this trip, I'm ex­cited to be cook­ing with a cou­ple of street ven­dors who are mas­ters of their trade.

: Do you have a favourite recipe or In­done­sian food?

B: My aunty taught me her nasi goreng recipe and I've cooked for a few In­done­sian peo­ple who have ab­so­lutely loved it.

It gets re­quested all the time.

BEN UNGER­MANN

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