IT consultant (NSW)
HOME TOWN: SYDNEY, NSW
MARITAL STATUS: MARRIED
COOKING STYLE: FRENCH MOROCCAN
Even for a diehard sweet tooth, Jonathan surprised himself with just how far he could go to create the perfect ice cream dessert during a trip to Italy a few years ago. “I lived in London for a while and did a trip to Milan, where I didn’t buy any- thing you should like clothes, leaving there instead with an ice cream ma- chine,” he says. “It was quite an effort stuffing that in my suitcase! I really was on a mission to make the perfect ice cream and I have experimented a lot with it, even using savoury flavours.”
Jonathan’s hunger for cooking developed while he was living in London when he was 22-years-old. After growing up on a diet of fairly simple meals, he relished the chance to experiment. “I discovered how great cooking was and that I had a creative side,” explains Jonathan, who married his wife Mandy during the filming of the Top 50 episodes. “My dad is Moroccan so I started to look towards that style of cooking and asked him about different flavours and dishes. “The first major meal I cooked was for a group of friends in London, and it was a huge Moroccan banquet. There were piles of couscous, piles of tagine, Moroccan desserts and dips. The kitchen was a bombsite but it really was a defining moment for me.” It didn’t take him long to infuse his Moroccan heritage with his love of all things French. “I trained myself, trying to capture the classic French style of cooking and then blend it with the Moroccan style,” says Jonathan, who spent a year in Bordeaux, France, to study the language.
What started as an interest in food is now an obsession. He dreams of one day working as a fine dining chef and names Gordon Ramsay as his favourite chef. In fact, he’s such a fan of the Michelin Star chef that when he ate at his London restaurant Petrus a few years ago, he was so in awe of the food that he rang up the following day and asked for a job as a trainee chef. “The food was just mind blowing,” he says. “I thought I’d give them a call, and I said that I noticed they trained chefs of all levels. They asked me what level I was at and I told them that I wasn’t a chef and that I hadn’t worked in a kitchen.” Despite being knocked back for a fulltime job, Jonathan was persistent and asked for some unpaid work experience in the kitchen. “I went into the kitchen for a few Saturdays and it was fantastic,” says Jonathan, who moved back to Australia shortly after his experience. Now, he’ll have his dishes judged by the MasterChef Australia judges, but Jonathan isn’t daunted.