The Chronicle

Feeling the heat

MASTERCHEF DISHES UP A BIG SERVE OF ANXIETY FOR AUSSIE ACTOR MATT LE NEVEZ

- LISA WOOLFORD

Matthew Le Nevez confesses he was more nervous in the MasterChef kitchen than on any film set he’s been on in his life.

“I have to tell you we all turned up really happy and all ‘oh you’re here, and you’re here?’ and then it was like ‘you like to cook? I like to cook’,” he tells Mid Week Binge down the line from his home just outside Los Angeles.

“But I’m not sure any of us really knew what we were getting into – the challenges and how long do I have to cook? I have 60 minutes but I have to get all of the equipment and pantry food.

“Let’s just say after day one the anxiety went through the roof.”

Like the other celebs on the show, the 42-year-old actor, who’s most fondly remembered as Dr Patrick Reid on Offspring, is not a face you’d expect to see on a reality show. But he wanted to take on the Celebrity MasterChef challenge to become a better cook for his family.

“Collette Dinnigan, Thorpey and Bec Gibney, they are also just people who have a passion for food,” Le Nevez says. “It’s almost like we were conned into doing a reality show because we all turned up and we’re excited to see each other and then we were like ‘hang on, holy s--- we are in a competitio­n’.”

STIFF COMPETITIO­N

Ask Le Nevez who is his biggest competitio­n among the other nine identities and he asks immediatel­y “what’s my last name? … It’s not f--ing Ramsay is it?” referencin­g Tilly Ramsay (as in daughter of Michelin-starred chef Gordon).

“She’s got Gordon on speed dial. ‘Dad, I’ve screwed the eggs’ … ‘well do this tomorrow, love’. Thorpey’s got a cookbook. Chrissie Swan – she knows what she’s doing. Collette Dinnigan, she cooks Italian feasts for her family and friends.”

But an early look at the first episode shows Le Nevez is quite the cook, whipping up fish tacos – a favourite of his two children, son Levi and daughter Wren.

There’s certainly a healthy sense of competitio­n in the kitchen, but the 10 stars have become firm friends through the experience with messages now pinging across Australia and the globe through the WhatsApp group.

Le Nevez also loved meeting – and learning – from the MasterChef judges – Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and Melissa Leong. “They’re incredible,” he says. “I think chefs are rock stars. If I go to a party and Brad Pitt is there but then there is his cousin Bob Pitt and Bob’s made the best dish I’ve ever had in my life ... I’m talking to Bob.”

The Aussie star’s been based in Los Angeles for more than a decade now, so it was his first time back in Melbourne since filming those last traumatisi­ng scenes for Offspring, when his Dr Patrick (sob) was hit by a car and ended up dying as his partner Dr Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) was heavily pregnant with their child. Swan jokes as she’s introduced to Le Nevez “look when you’re crossing the road”.

PINING FOR PATRICK

He’s still haunted by Patrick. Fans who bump into the down-to-earth actor are constantly asking if there’s a way the handsome, brooding anaestheti­st can come back from the grave. I tell him it’s been suggested to Offspring writer Michael Lucas that Patrick has an identical twin. So if Offspring was revived would Le Nevez consider coming back?

“We’ll call him Pete,” Le Nevez laughs again. “Look, never say never. I get asked the question all the time.

“I’m so chuffed, so thrilled and honoured to have been a part of a show like Offspring. to have had the opportunit­y to have worked with incredible creative forces such as Michael Lucas and then to have actors like Asher and Kat (Stewart) just at their absolute peak and to be a part of that is such a privilege. Even to talk about it years after is cool.

“Who knows? Maybe I’ll play his long lost twin brother in Offspring the Musical.

“You wouldn’t be so excited if you heard me sing.”

With a planned fourth season of Absentia – the Amazon TV show shot in Bulgaria that Le Nevez has starred in – not likely to happen thanks to Covid, he’s been working on developing his own material. While many Aussie stars headed home as the pandemic started, Le Nevez stayed in the States. His partner Michelle was working on the front line in LA’s overrun hospitals. They did move out of the city into a nice neighbourh­ood near the beach, where horses are ridden on the streets every day.

“My kids are having a much more Australian-like childhood where they are out in nature,” Le Nevez says.

HOME BODY

While it’s been hard being isolated from his family and friends back home in Australia, and watching Sydney and Melbourne go through extended lockdowns, what’s been really tough has been watching the states fight with each other. “It breaks my heart,” Le Nevez says.

The silver lining of Covid has been time with his family – even though it’s meant a year of Zoom schooling his kids. “I’m a terrible teacher. If there’s a piece of paper I can sign to get a teacher a raise anywhere in this world, I will do it right now.”

But he has loved having the time with his children.

“I think in the first 24 months of Levi’s life, I only spent three months with him. So being able to spend the last two years with them has been really great. In saying that we’ve always got to work, so it would be great to travel again and see family and friends.” Celebrity MasterChef, Sunday, 7.30pm, Ten

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 ?? ?? Australian actor Matt Le Nevez shows off his skills in the kitchen in Channel 10’s Celebrity MasterChef.
Australian actor Matt Le Nevez shows off his skills in the kitchen in Channel 10’s Celebrity MasterChef.

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