They wowed us on the screen with delicious culinary designs and now they’re taking over the food-industry with their own successful careers. RESCU spoke to some of the women who stole the show (and the kitchen) to find out what they’ve been up to since then, and how they’ve carved a career from passion.
“Prior to MasterChef,” Julia tells us, “I was a classically-trained pianist, studying Russian music and working as a paralegal. I realised my future path lay in food whilst looking through pictures of my honeymoon through Europe and America – every picture was of cake! Eclairs, chocolates, cupcakes, gateaux, croissants, doughnuts, and macarons; it was a pivotal moment in my life.”
During her time on MasterChef, the determined Julia was quickly crowned the Dessert Queen of series four and came out the other end with the runner up spot and a pastry apprenticeship with Adriano Zumbo.
Since then, the determined blonde has gone on to study patisserie as a scholarship student at Le Cordon Bleu, Sydney and has gone on to become the first MasterChef contestant to work as a qualified pastry chef. She says, “I absolutely love my job at La Renaissance Patisserie in The Rocks where I have worked for the past 18 months.”
Her only regret? Not having jumped into her passion sooner. “Occasionally I wish I’d fallen down the rabbit hole of hospitality a little earlier, but perhaps I can bring something unique to the industry with my love of history, culture, and the creative industries”
Of the career highs she says, “MasterChef opens some wonderful doors, and I’ve loved running cooking schools and giving demonstrations at food and wine events across the country like Margaret River Gourmet Escape, which boasts a stellar chef line-up. It’s always a ‘pinch me’ moment! Last November I toured around Australia for six weeks with Christine Manfield on her ‘Dessert Divas’ book tour, and most recently it was my privilege to assist Jean Michel Raynaud, my head chef at La Renaissance, on the testing and shoot for his cookbook “The French Baker”. All of these events are wonderful memories and rich learning experiences.”
The highest of the highs, perhaps, is yet to come, “The future for me is establishing my own patisserie here in Sydney. Stay tuned…”
After competing on season two of MasterChef Australia, Marion Grasby launched herself into a dream career. Today her CV is impressive to say the least, including titles as varied and illustrious as chef, business owner cookbook author, television presenter and food journalist. And all at just 32.
Now living in Bangkok, Marion’s latest business venture is Marion’s Kitchen, producing “fool-proof” at-home cooking kits, making it easy for everyone to recreate their favourite Asian dishes at home.
“My friends have always asked me for my family Asian recipes but they were also frustrated that they couldn’t get the balance of flavours ‘just right’ when they tried them at home.”
Along with the Marion’s Kitchen Recipe App, the cooking kits provide the perfect balance of Asian flavours, using only fresh ingredients, to recreate Marion’s family recipes in any home kitchen. “Each kit had to taste just like it would if I made it in my own kitchen, using the same fresh ingredients I would use at home.”
Four years since the start of Marion’s idea, the cooking kits continue to grow, “we’ve managed to create a loyal customer base, which I’m always so grateful for!”
Running a business without sacrificing personal life is a task for anyone but Marion and her husband find a few ways around it. “My husband and I both run the business so we’re careful to make sure we have ‘personal time’ that doesn’t involve work. We have a ‘no work talk’ dinner policy.”
Not one to dwell on the regrets of business, Marion chooses to focus on the positive highlights from her career as a MasterChef and businesswoman. Her advice for small business owners? “Get more sleep… It’s easy to get caught up sweating about the small stuff!”
“We’ve just launched Marion’s Kitchen in the USA and we’ll have more than 5, 000 stores stocking my products by the end of the year.”
Before MasterChef season five, Liliana was a stay-at-home mum to two boys living in the North West of Western Australia. “I have always loved cooking, and cooking for groups of friends became something I did a lot of due to lack of much else to do or places to go, plus I wanted to recreate the big Italian family get togethers I was missing from my childhood.”
But after years of running her home like a restaurant, it was time to pursue a career of her own. “I was encouraged by friends and family that my food was good enough to give it a go.”
Since the competition, Lilana juggles family life with a burgeoning catering business and writing her own cookbook, “I love cooking for people, so it seemed natural to start my own catering business, Liliana’s Kitchen. I have catered small dinner parties, festivals, weddings to 1000+ events and absolutely love it. I’ve now written my first book, Easy Home Cooking Italian Style, which I am ecstatic about.”
And that’s not the last of it. Following in the footsteps of Marion before her, Liliana is set to launch her own food range of Sugo (Italian pasta sauces) and Spices.
Like so many of us, she only wishes she had pursued her love sooner. “Looking back, I wish I had gone into the food industry a long time ago. It took me to audition for MasterChef to truly realise my dreams, and I am incredibly thankful for that. However I wish I had the confidence in myself years ago to train as a chef.”
“I’ve got the food range coming out soon, plus I’ve started writing a second book. Cooking and feeding people is important to me, so I’d like to open up my own place some day. I’m very fortunate to be doing what I love and still be Mum to my boys.”