'The show changes you'

'The show changes you'

Fondly remembered as the ‘Dessert Queen’ of the ‘MasterChef Australia’ kitchen, Emelia Jackson has come a long way post her exit on the television cooking show. She was recently in the City and took some time off to speak to ‘Metrolife’ about ‘MasterChef’, chocolates and everything in between. 

After spending six months in the ‘MasterChef’ house, Emelia says the biggest challenge she faced after the show was to “work out what you want to do”. 

“You are told there are all these opportunities after ‘MasterChef’ but no one ever tells you what they mean. After six months, you’ve forgotten how to function in the real world, then you go ‘what do I do now?’ You get caught up in wanting to become a chef and a fine-dining chef, but then, once you get into the real world you realise, especially in Australia, it’s a very demanding job and it’s not what you think it is, nor is it as rewarding as you think. It’s hard then trying to carve out what you want to do with your life.” 

Emelia, who will soon be jetting off to London to pursue marketing, says the show changed her in ways she didn’t foresee. 

“I went into the ‘MasterChef’ experience with a one-year, two-year or a 10-year plan for my life. And I was ready to open a cafe patisserie. I was really eager to get into the industry but that was only because I was naive to it. So in that sense, it was disappointing for me. I’m in a great place because of ‘MasterChef’ today but from what I originally wanted from life, the show changes you, which I didn’t expect.” 

With shows like ‘MasterChef’ becoming popular, a chef’s life has become greatly glamourised. “The show glamourises the profession, but not in a negative way. Cooking is a tough profession, not just physically but mentally as well. It’s a lot of repetition, standing on your feet for 12 to 16 hours a day, five days a week...people don’t see this side of it, they just see chefs on ‘MasterChef’ creating amazing dishes every week, which isn’t what the industry is.” 

What is the biggest kitchen mistake the chef has made? “I do a lot of wedding and celebration cakes. Once, I had to deliver a cake at 5 pm for an engagement. The only thing I had left was black stenciling on a white cake, and when I put it on, it literally exploded all over! This was at 4.30 pm. So I had to peel off all the fondant and start the cake again.” She managed to pull through but says the stress made her nauseous.

Known for making desserts like panna cotta, Emelia says ingredients like chocolate, butter, egg and sugar will always be found in her pantry. “My pantry is likely to have everything! And chocolates – I’m obsessed with chocolates. If there’s an open block, I make myself eat the whole thing so that I don’t eat it over four days. I’ll also have 10 different brands of butter. And four dozen eggs – my grandmother never let my mother eat eggs because they were the ‘prized’ ingredient so now my mum always has to have eggs.” 

Is she willing to compromise to pursue the life of a chef? “I want to open a patisserie. After London, I will come back to Melbourne and do it. Anything that involves a strong amount of creativity in your life involves compromise and I really admire chefs because it’s such a hard job, but I want to own my own business,” she sums up.

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