It was a simple choice that forced Alana into learning to cook – eat or go hungry. The word ‘cooking’ wasn’t even a part of Alana’s vocabulary until she moved out of the family home in Mildura, Victoria, into her own digs at age 18. After a lifetime of having her mum Judy cook for her, Alana quickly familiarised herself with her new kitchen.
But what started as a necessity, soon blossomed into a Forrest Gump moment, and Alana just kept on cooking!
“The family joke was that when I moved out of home, they were all worried I was going to starve!” says Alana, who now lives in Brisbane with her husband Rob but still calls her mum for cooking advice. “I started out cooking really simple things, but my mum now says I’m the gourmet of the family and they love it when I cook for them.”
That the journalist and actress loves food should be of no surprise – her mum had a reputation of cooking up a storm when Alana was growing up with her brother Gavin.
“Mum would always be cooking up enough food to feed an army,” she says. “We were involved in the basketball scene so we’d constantly be having people around, like import players, and everyone knew they could come to mum and dad’s place for a good feed.”
While Alana proved to a force on the field, she was soon kicking career goals, working casual shifts at WIN TV and then a move to Brisbane in 2007 allowed stints at Nine News and Style magazine. After recently being made redundant, Alana has shifted her focus to food, and dreams of releasing a cookbook or even starring in her own cooking show.
“I have always said for years that I’ve wanted a cooking show,” says Alana, who loves Nigella Lawson and is nicknamed ‘Nige’ from other contestants “If I could have any job in the world, it would be that.“
As for her determination to succeed, she should not be underestimated.
“I was asked to come to auditions last year but I was travelling,” she says, adding her cooking style is French with a Middle Eastern influence. “I was then determined to hone my skills for the next year and apply for series three – and here I am.”