WHEN you turn on the telly to watch this season's premiere of MasterChef this Sunday, you might notice a familiar face of one of the contestants.
It will be that of Lennox Head social worker, single mother and "free spirit" Jules Allen.
"I'm having a great time, it's amazing. It's up and down of course - it's not for the faint-hearted. But I'm really grateful at the opportunity," she said. "It's been really hard for me to walk away from all that I know. I'm a single mum; I've never been away from my kids."
For Ms Allen, the MasterChef journey so far has been unlike any other she's ever undertaken.
She said the biggest thing she's learnt so far has been to "keep it simple and cook from your heart".
It's an idea that links all the way back to what sparked her passion for cooking with her Thai maternal family.
"I went back to Thailand with my parents when I was about eight and I spent the entire holiday sitting the backyard with my Naphah (aunty) cooking around the open fire, and I just loved it. I was in my element," she said.
She explained there were two reasons she auditioned for MasterChef.
"One is because I've always had a passion for cooking. I've given a lot to others in my career and home life and I wanted to do something for me, I guess," she said.
The second reason was to help put food charity on the map.
She said she could see a huge gap in Australia between the rich and the poor, while she's observed how in third world countries that gap is bridged by sharing food.
"I'd like to see that happen here," she said.
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