Winner of MasterChef Australia In 2015 and 2022 Billie McKay is still trying to process her historic win. Seven years after first stepping into the MasterChef kitchen, the restaurant manager took home the coveted trophy once again after impressing the judges with her perfect final dish, prepared by none other than Chef Heston Blumenthal.
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known by her experimental desserts and the ability to effortlessly fuse various flavors to create delicious dishes: goat cheese Cheesecake with Roasted Grapes and Grape Syrup, Thyme and Verjuice; saffron mousse with a cherry sauce and some white chocolate crumbs; white chocolate stirred with garam masala desserts and more – not only did Billie live up to her title of being the ‘Queen of Desserts’ on the show, but she also made the pressure tests look effortless and the mystery boxes so much fun!
In an exclusive email interaction with indianexpress.comBillie spoke about her experiences at the cooking show, the season he enjoyed the most, his biggest competition, and more! Read to know more:
You’ve made history by winning MasterChef Australia twice; what does it feel like
It feels amazing. I think it’s still sinking in, and I still can’t believe it. But yeah, it’s amazing.
How and in what way was the last season different from your first experience in 2015?
It was quite different in some ways, but the same in others. I think this time I was able to be a little more present and enjoy it a lot more than last time, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little older, maybe. I think, this time, the challenges were more difficult. I guess they had to consider that there were returning contestants and 12 of them Australia’s Best Home Cooks coming together So yes, different, but the same.
With a win in your kitty, have you ever felt like you have an edge over the other contestants, especially the fans, this season?
When I was first asked to come back, I wondered how it would all work, considering that half of us had done the competition before and might have an advantage in that regard. But back to the kitchen and seeing how the format and challenges were set, where we were against each other from the get-go. I felt they did a really good job of leveling the playing field for everyone. That kitchen is such a great equalizer when you’re under time pressure and have moderation of ingredients, it’s anyone’s game. So it levels up pretty quickly.
How did you feel when you learned that the final course of the second round is a dessert and that, too, by Heston Blumenthal?
It was a bit of deja vu, I think, for a second, and then it quickly turned into fear and terror, knowing that I would try one of these desserts again because I knew it would be a long challenge. In 2015 it was five and a half hours, and this year five hours and 15 minutes. So, that alone is difficult, you know, standing for so long and you’re driving the whole time. You put on quite a lot exhausted. But yes, it was scary to see him go through that door.
You prepared many dishes in the kitchen, which do you think is the best?
I really loved some of them desserts I made it. In the semi-final, I made a Lamington dessert that was inspired by my grandmother’s cooking. Every time I cooked dishes that came from a memory, and if the judges loved them and everything worked, it was a great feeling. But certainly a lot of the stuff I did I liked “White.” chocolate stirred with garam masala desserts’ before, I also really loved it. Yes, dessert.
How difficult was it to be away from your daughter for so long? What kept you going?
It was so hard to even say yes at first to going back kitchen master. He knew he could be away from her for up to six months, depending on how long he was there, so he definitely had to consider it. But, the support of my husband and family really allowed me to do it again. This helped me a lot. While I was there, every few weeks my husband would take her for a visit, so she really helped me through it all. But yeah, it was definitely pretty tough.
Who did you consider to be your main competition and why?
oh i should say Sarah (Todd). Throughout the competition, she cooked very well. And towards the end, he was unstoppable. really
What are your plans now?
Definitely getting some rest and spending some quality time with my daughter, Ada. But yes, after that, I want to open up a little bit restaurant of my own and cook all kinds of food which I have learned and which I really like kitchen master. So I want to keep doing this and hope it all works out.
If you had to choose one of the two seasons you participated in, which would you choose and why?
The last one, season 14. It was really nice and I met a lot of cool people. I think I enjoyed it more this time and met a lot of nice people, so this year for sure.
Do you think working at the Fat Duck gave you an edge in the final round as you understand Heston and his creations a bit?
I do not think so. Pressure tests will always be tough; it doesn’t seem to matter which chef sets them. There were no ingredients in that (final) dish that the Fat Duck was familiar with. Also, it was a dish from Dinner by Heston, his London restaurant. I actually never worked there and didn’t get to see this dish. It was completely new to me, so I thought I might feel a little more comfortable watching Heston mark the final challenge. But somehow I think I’d probably be more scared because I know how crazy their dishes could be. So, I certainly didn’t feel comfortable, I felt terrified, I think.
MasterChef Australia S14 has streamed and is available on Disney+ Hotstar.
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