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MasterChef Australia

Weds - Fri at 7.30pm TVNZ 1

Jonathan Q&A

Fast facts

1. Favourite chef: Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller.
2. Favourite restaurant: Vini in Surry Hills, Sydney.
3. Favourite cuisine: French.
4. Favourite place to travel: France, Italy and Spain.
5. Favourite dish to cook: Anything sweet. Probably ice-cream the most.
6. Favourite vegetable: Sweet potato or pumpkin, especially when they are roasted and they get those dark caramel edges.
7. Sweet or savoury: Definitely sweet!
8. How do you like your eggs: Free range.


Favourite ingredient and why?

Real vanilla is my favourite ingredient Vanilla has a rich caramel-like flavour with a pervading sweet fragrance. I'd use some form of vanilla in almost every dessert to add a sense of depth.

What's your favourite meal of the day - breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Dinner is a family meal. Dinner is definitely the time to take things slow, enjoy time with friends and family, sip on some lovely wine and indulge in one course after another.

What dish would be the way to your heart?
Any dish with real-butter pastry, smooth custard or ice cream. Combine all three and I'm in heaven.

What are your favourite tunes to cook to?
I have eclectic taste in music. For cooking, it's definitely got to be energising and have a beat. Basement Jaxx, Cold Play, Black Eyed Peas, Franz Ferdinand, The Funk Brothers, Massive Attack and Scissor Sisters would be part of my playlist.

What do you think you'll learn from being on MasterChef?
There is so much to learn about food and cooking. No matter how much one knows, there is always more to learn.

Which judge makes you the most nervous?
Gary is probably the harshest judge and George's cooking is inspirational. Matt probably makes me the most nervous because he doesn't give away too much so you never know where you stand.

Tell us about how you got into cooking and how old were you?
I did a little bit of baking when I was younger, but I really got into cooking when I moved to London at 23 years-old and had to cook for myself.

What's the first meal you remember cooking and was it a success or a disaster?
The first big dinner I cooked was a Moroccan banquet. I had mountains of couscous, different tagines, a multitude of side dishes and great colour. It was a great success! But the kitchen looked like a disaster zone.   

What three ingredients would you take with you to a desert island and what would you cook with them?
Live chickens - because then I'd have eggs which is the most versatile ingredient. Chocolate would be a must and sugar, I'd cook a nice chocolate treat for after dinner.

If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
Heston Blumathal, Epikouros and Isaac Newton. I'd cook the Fat Duck tasty menu. Seems crazy I know but then I can be coached by the world's best.

What inspired you to go on MasterChef?
The realisation that MasterChef could change my life.