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MasterChef Australia

Weds - Fri at 7.30pm TVNZ 1

Melissa Q & A

Melissa - Fast Facts

1. Current job:
Newspaper Publisher/Graphic Designer.
2. Favourite chef: Mama Tina.
3. Favourite restaurant: La Casareccia.
4. Favourite cuisine: Italian.
5. Favourite place to travel: Brasil.
6. Favourite dish to cook: Tortellini.
7. Favourite dessert to eat: Tiramisu (for breakfast).
8. Sweet or Savoury: Savoury.
9. Chilli or garlic: Garlic.
10. How do you like your eggs: Scrambled.

1. Favourite ingredient and why?
Prawns. They are fantastic without very much seasoning and you can dip them in a variety of sauces for a multitude of flavours.

2. Favourite utensil and why?
Pasta maker. I have only just purchased and used one very recently and it has changed my whole perspective on the idea of what pasta is. 

3. What's your favourite meal of the day - breakfast, lunch or dinner?
All of them because they each offer their own unique moment of experience, food-wise and socially.

4. What do you prefer, chicken, beef, seafood or tofu, and why?
Seafood. I love the delicate flavours that can be achieved. But it has to be the best quality.

5. What dish would be the way to your heart?
Anything prepared for me by someone who cares about me would win my heart. It wouldn't matter what the food was.

6. What's your favourite tune to cook to?
Different food need different energy so it depends on what, who and why I am cooking.

7. Describe how you felt during the MasterChef audition?
Nervous. Excited.

8. Tell us about your journey into the Top 20:
I had no idea about the depth of knowledge other people have in terms of the chemistry of food, chefs, trends, herbs, ingredients, so it has been a bit intimidating. I thought I knew about cooking but I have hardly scratched the surface and I am really excited to be learning so much.

9. What do you think you'll learn from being on MasterChef?

10. Are you nervous about cooking for the judges and why?
Yes because my technique and skills are not polished and having them watch me makes me nervous.

About Melissa
1. Tell us about how you got into cooking and how old were you?

My mother and grandmother were meticulous home cooks who, probably out of necessity due to lack of funds, made everything themselves, from preserves to pickled meats. My mother, brothers and my grandfathers shot ducks, trapped rabbits, caught fish so I have grown up in a culture of home cooking. Watching my mother make marshmallows to sell at the school fete is one of my earliest memories, as I wanted to help so I was allowed to put sugar into the gelatine to help. I must have been 6 or 7 at the time. This was the start of my interest in food.

2. What's the first meal you remember cooking and was it a success or a disaster?
I think I made a lemon cheesecakes and the base stuck to the bottom of the dish. So it was a bit messy by still tasty.

3. Who do you cook for the most?
Zac, my brother - we live together.

4. What do you love and what do hate about cooking food?
I love trying new recipes and trying to emulate a dish I have tasted somewhere and making it better. I hate cleaning up!

5. What three ingredients would you take with you to a desert island and what would you cook with them?
Lime, coriander, ginger. I am assuming there would be coconuts on my island and I could catch fish, prawns and squid. I could have a seafood feast every day and use the ingredients to make different flavours. Just a squeeze of lime one day; a kind of coconut, Asian flavoured dipping sauce another. Lime slices and ginger cooked inside a whole fish another. Actually maybe I would have to substitute the ginger for some oil or butter&

6. If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
Oprah Winfrey, she needs soul food that's healthy and is an amazing, inspired woman. Tom Mosby, MasterChef Australia contestant, I feel like I have met my male twin in Tom. Zac Lutton, my brother, I have to share with someone I care about.

7. What inspired you to go on MasterChef?
My dream to own my own restaurant or tapas with amazing food that also brings people together in an environment that helps them to forget their troubles and creates great conversation. In essence, bringing people together to create memorable moments through food.