What iso-life is like for a MasterChef judge

 

 

Fans in isolation are tuning into Channel 10's MasterChef but what do the judges of the show do?

We asked new MasterChef judge Melissa Leong who is still filming the last few weeks of the popular Channel 10 show.

MasterChef judge Melissa Leong is keeping herself busy in isolation. Picture: Channel 10
MasterChef judge Melissa Leong is keeping herself busy in isolation. Picture: Channel 10

 

What I'm cooking

I'll level with you. I like to archive dishes I see on my Instagram feed, for when I need some cooking inspiration.

Like everyone else, this ISO life usually involves multi-step dishes that take some time to prepare, like slow cooked stews and soups from our collective family backgrounds, pasta and ragu all from scratch, or just a tonne of aperitivo hour snacks … we don't often have the opportunity to cook time-consuming things like that, so now's the time.

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Immune boosting turmeric sweet potato omelette. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In a pan on medium heat, dry toast half a teaspoon of coriander seeds for 1 minute or until fragrant, then use the back of a spatula to lightly crush them (I actually don’t mind whole coriander seeds, but you can also transfer them to a mortar and pestle and give them a bash if you like, before returning to the pan. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Add olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic (also a great immune booster), and cook it out briefly, to get rid of the rawness. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Add half a small grated sweet potato and 1 tsp ground turmeric and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until the sweet potato has softened and the turmeric has been incorporated into the mixture. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper (black pepper helps the body absorb turmeric better). ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Once cooked, push the sweet potato mixture to the side of the pan, then add a small knob of butter to the centre of the pan. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ When the butter is bubbling, pour in two beaten eggs, seasoned with a pinch of salt. Use a spatula to push the egg around the pan, rocking the pan back and forth, to create a rippled effect, filling in any gaps with egg mixture. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ When the egg is almost, but not quite cooked through, gently heap the sweet potato into the centre of the omelette, then carefully fold over (the egg will continue to cook during this time). ⁣ ⁣ Serve with lemon, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. You could also add some avocado for more good fats, and a little hot sauce never hurt anyone! 🌶

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I'm lucky that my husband is also as chef and bartender, so he's been occupying the kitchen a lot, given the current global circumstances. Above all, I think the thread that connects everything we're eating is comfort. Big flavours, contrasting textures and that magical ingredient we've all suddenly been given a heaping dose of: time.

What I'm reading

I'm proofing a cookbook I've been ghost writing with chef Shannon Martinez, which will truly change the way non vegans think about vegan cooking … she's for my money, one of the most underrated culinary superstars in Australia right now … so check it out later this year!

Vegan restaurant Smith and Daughters owner Shannon Martinez tucks into a vegan slow braised beef ragu on pappardelle (made from mushrooms). Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Vegan restaurant Smith and Daughters owner Shannon Martinez tucks into a vegan slow braised beef ragu on pappardelle (made from mushrooms). Picture: Jake Nowakowski

I was also recently given a copy of Code Villanelle, the book that inspired Killing Eve (which I am obsessed with!), so I'm on to that as well.

Code Villanelle, the book that inspired Killing Eve.
Code Villanelle, the book that inspired Killing Eve.

What I'm listening to

There is almost always music playing in our house. An eclectic combination of hardcore metal, country tunes, old jazz and 80s hair metal … anything goes so long as it's good.

Podcast wise, there are a heap of them I love, including The New Yorker Radio Hour, BBC4's humour-meets-science show The Infinite Monkey Cage and The Collector's House by Matches Fashion, which interviews creatives across fashion, design and art.

Closer to home, there are some incredible Australian made podcasts including Head Ovary Heels and The Modern Women, both of which showcase women who are utterly killing it in their chosen fields. A great couple of podcasts for inspiration and reflection.

What I'm watching

Uh … MasterChef: Back To Win, of course! Seriously, we're so glad that the show we've loved making is now on the air and that we can share the highs and lows, thrills and spills with the rest of Australia.

Jock and Andy have become the two brothers I didn't know I had, and we have had such a blast working together … it is so inspiring to come to work every day and be around such smart, hard working and funny humans.

 

Harrison Ford in a scene from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Picture: AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, David James
Harrison Ford in a scene from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Picture: AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, David James

 

Aside from that, I'm really into rewatching old movies (preferably with sequels or prequels, like Indiana Jones, The Godfather, or The Avengers) and television series, for that much needed comfort and nostalgia we all need right now.

Originally published as What iso-life is like for a MasterChef judge


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