An art gallery director, an automotive detailer, a physiotherapist and a former student are amongst the final 6 amateur chefs to claim the last remaining aprons in this year’s Top 24.
After a long week of hard fought audition challenges across Victoria that culminated in tonight’s French themed Pressure test, this year’s Top 24 MasterChef contestants dream has now become a reality.
Prepare to be inspired as they face the biggest few months of their lives, develop their skills, compete under pressure and meet their culinary idols. One will be crowned Australia’s next Masterchef.
Who are these latest crop of food lovers?
Alice Zaslavsky, 26, VIC
Secondary School Teacher
Born in Georgia, before emigrating to Australia as a seven year old, Alice’s love of food was influenced by traditional Georgian styles and cooking alongside her Mum, Aunties and Grandmothers. Her Great Grandfather was a cook in the Bolshevik Army – in fact, everyone in Alice’s family love to cook. A self-confessed “Cerd” or “Cool Nerd” Alice is bubbly, bright, loves exercise and is a real theatre buff. She says she hasn’t repeated an outfit for three years.
Amina Elshafei, 27, NSW
Amina is blessed with culinary expertise that originates from two different parts of the world – the Middle East and Asia – thanks to her Egyptian Dad and South Korean Mum. Close to both her parents, but a self-confessed “Daddy’s girl”, Amina lives with her younger sister Eman, with whom she would one day love to own a funky but traditional Middle Eastern mezze restaurant.
Andy Allen, 23, NSW
Andy’s current job as an apprentice electrician does not inspire him like food does. He is at a cross roads in his career and hopes that MasterChef will help to give him a new sense of direction.
Andrew Strickland, 48, NSW
Flamboyant and self-assured, Andrew is a successful hairdresser with his own business. The son of a truck driver and one of seven children, Andrew was raised in the countryside but says he has a “city heart”. As a teenager, he often starred in high school musicals. Recently married for the second time, Andrew met his current wife when she served him in a café two years ago. They live with her children – and Andrew has two children from his first marriage.
Andrew is inspired by the “creation” and invention elements of cooking and enjoys the challenge of having limited ingredients. His earliest food memory is making short crust pastry for apple pies with his Mum and he was making roasts for his family before he left home.
Andrew is not a fan of “fancy cooking” and aspires to have a commercial kitchen where he can produce good quality, ready to go meals that customers can buy and heat up for dinner.
Audra Morrice, 41, NSW
Born in Singapore to a Singaporean mother and Indian father, Mum of two Audra grew up living and breathing food. With a huge extended family, there were always lots of people to be fed – and lots of great cooks.
Her first memories of cooking are as a young teenager, baking biscuits, but when she first moved overseas to study in New Zealand – and was homesick for Asian food – she started making her Mum’s chicken curry.
Beau Cook, 27, VIC
A construction worker who up until now has laid water and gas mains for a living, Beau is ready to change his life.
Ben Milbourne, 30, TAS
Secondary School Teacher
School teacher Ben is incredibly passionate about what he does – he doesn’t do his job for the paycheck.
Some of Ben’s fondest childhood memories lie with his Grandmother, she used to bake for the 40 plus tradesmen employed by the family business each morning. Ben remembers making scones with her after school every week – which is what sparked his love for cooking.
Dalvinder Dhami, 35, NSW
Dalvinder was born in Singapore and moved out of home to get married at the age of 21 – the marriage was arranged – and 14 years later, Dalvinder couldn’t be happier. She is a loving and proud mother to her three children and her mother-in-law still lives with them.
Debra Sederlan, 50, VIC
Senior Account Manager
Debra lives with her dog, Izzy who is her pride and joy. She grew up in Victoria in East Gippsland and has two brothers and one sister with whom she is close.
Debra’s ‘Pap’ (Grandfather) and Dad were both bakers so she grew up with memories of freshly baked lamingtons and scones being prepared in their wood fire oven. Now whenever Debra is feeling down she bakes a cake.
Emma O’Shaunessy, 19, SA
Emma has forgone her studies and even quit her retail job – where her Mum was her manager – so she can pursue a career in food.
Emma considers herself to have had a very fortunate life with a great childhood; Her cooking skills and passion are self-taught and she is the main cook in the family – from as long as she can remember she has loved being in the kitchen and these days her parents are now learning from her. She has a sweet tooth and likes to bake for her family and friends.
Filippo Silvestro, 38, QLD
A father of two, Filippo comes from an Italian background and is a very proud family man. He talks on the phone to his Mum every day.
Julia ‘Jules’ Pike, 28, NT
Customer Service Officer
Jules has a close-knit family and grew up all over Australia. They moved every couple of years because her Dad was in the army. Jules currently works at a bank as a customer service officer, but her dream is to open her own food and wine bar.
Julia Taylor, 25, QLD
Julia is a receptionist in a law firm and also a music teacher, teaching the piano to children. But she also has a market stall selling her cupcakes, spices and biscuits.
Kath Von Witt, 28, NSW
Art Gallery Director
Kath describes herself as “earthy and gregarious”. She grew up in Tasmania and her parents were always interested in food and gardening – which inspired her love for sustainable cooking.
Kevin Perry, 34, NSW
‘Big Kev’ is a positive, laid back Canadian who loves playing rugby, cooking for friends, throwing parties and reading cook books.
Kylie Millar, 24, NSW
Kylie’s interest and passion for food were brought on by her Nanna – who was her biggest influence, always keeping the family entertained with her cooking. It was this enthusiasm that inspired Kylie – they would bake biscuits, cakes and sweet treats during the school holidays.
Lydia Guerrini, 38, WA
Lydia has an Italian heritage and is heavily influenced by her mother. She is the youngest of three and has an older brother and sister but they don’t share the same passion for food as Lydia does.
Growing up, Lydia’s mother was – and still is – a serious cook, “she knows everything about food and is always a wealth of knowledge.” As a child, Lydia would be in the kitchen with her Mum – kneading pasta and bread, shaping biscuits and often helping with the evening meal. The first dish she remembers making was a pasta ragu. Dinnertime was un-interrupted family time in their home.
Mario Mohorko, 40, VIC
Mario is an automotive detailer who dreams of his own intimate café or restaurant where he can emulate his father’s recipes.
His father is Slovenian and mother was born in Croatia. Mario’s first cooking experience was making biscuits in Home Economics Class – he remembers being incredibly proud to bring them home to his Mum. Married for 12 years, Mario says there is nothing better than sharing your life with your best friend.
Together they love to eat out and try different types of food and cooking styles – although he says a good old fashioned barbecue or grill can’t be beaten. Mario says his strengths are in Eastern European cooking – particularly goulashes and peasant style food – and his ability to learn fast.
Matt Howell, 18, VIC
Philosophical and easy going, Matt has been cooking since he can remember – his first memory is making an apple crumble with his Nan – and much of his childhood was spent marinating meat and barbecuing with his Dad or flipping pancakes with his Mum.
Being this year’s youngest contestant hasn’t deterred him.
Mindy Woods, 30, QLD
Mindy has decided to leave her “sensible” career in Physiotherapy behind and turn all her attention to food.
Sam Davis, 34, WA
Private banker Sam grew up on a merino and cattle farm in rural NSW – he is one of three boys. Sam’s Grandfather was a butcher who taught him a lot about cuts of meat. One of his first memories of cooking is preparing roast lamb with his Mum – who is his cooking inspiration.
Sam wants to pursue something he is passionate about as a career – and hopes to work in the food industry. One of his ideas is to return to farming and open a restaurant on the property that sells what the farm produces.
Tran Kim ‘TK’ Nguyen, 22, VIC
TK is a law student and the daughter of refugees who escaped the Vietnam War to come to Australia. As a child TK was always immersed in food and cooking.
Tregan Borg, 25, VIC
Social worker Tregan has many memories of food during her childhood but the one that stands out is the time she would spend at the food market when her parents ran a pet shop there.
Wade Drummond, 28, WA
Wade is a commercial labourer who would love to start again in the food industry. He passed up a secure job in the mines to pursue his MasterChef dream. Wade has always been interested in learning more about what he is eating and is driven by seeing whether he can cook better than his Mum. He has been cooking since he was 12 and his first dish was a bruschetta.
So there we have it, and you can see them in action every weekday at 7PM AND every Sunday at 7.30pm on Network Ten.