Sep 13, 2011

Kate Bracks is the charming and talented 36 year old mother of 3 children, who recently won the title of Australian Masterchef 2011. Throughout the Masterchef series, Kate always appeared positive, had nice things to say about everyone and didn’t cry every 2 minutes, so was our personal favourite from the outset. 
Kate lives in Orange and has become the darling of the area as she has done so much to help promote the region and great food produced here. With a flat out schedule of interviews, meetings, book deals and setting up her own B & B, I’ve been very fortunate to get a spare 10 minutes with Kate for the Life A L’Orange blog.

How long were you away from Orange filming for Master Chef?
7 months in total with 3 production breaks when I could come home. I never thought I would be in the competition so long! Because I’ve got young children, I was also allowed to see them every 2 weeks and my husband would come down to Sydney with them for visits.

Is there a favourite dish that you cooked during the show?

What is the most unusual thing that has happened to you since winning ‘Masterchef?’
Using a helicopter, not for luxury travel, but as my mode of transport so I could get down to Taste Orange at Bondi. It was the only way I could get there on time!

How did you come up with the idea for a foodie B & B?
I’d been talking about it with my husband for years, we love hosting guests and providing good hospitality when people come to stay. The B & B is like a natural progression for us.

How are plans going for your foodie B & B?
We have been looking around for the right property but it is hard as there isn’t much time at the moment and I’ve got my cook book to write first.

What was the funniest moment you enjoyed on Masterchef?
During our New York trip, we had to travel out to Liberty Island on the ferry and Alana (another contestant) got herself locked in the toilet. She was stuck in there for 1.5hrs, at one stage, a local actually suggested ‘I know, we’ll shoot the door down.’ The whole thing was hilarious, for everyone except Alana.

Did you have a special favourite between Matt, George and Gary?
No special favourite as I liked all of them equally but for different reasons. Matt treated us equally and was genuinely interested in everyone. He also gave good, constructive feedback which was really helpful. Gary was like the caring ‘Dad’ of the group, always chatting to us in between filming. George was the comedian and helped hugely with our plating skills. Matt Moran also spent several hours with me one on one (even though it looked like 5 minutes in the edit) so was a great mentor.

What is the most handy kitchen tool in your kitchen?
My Kitchen Aid mixer.

Did you get to eat gourmet dinners every evening whilst on MasterChef?
Most evenings we ate great food, everyone wants to practice their cooking skills and they all have high standards so the dinners were fantastic. We also had really good caterers on set so we ate well during the day too. It was hard to stay in shape!

How does the food stay warm and fresh after an invention test but before the judges can taste it?
It doesn’t, the judges taste the food cold! Most of the judges try to taste everything hot straight after we finish by going around to our empty pots with their little spoons. If the dish has a cold component then it goes straight in the freezer before it gets taken to the judges. The only time this changed was when we did the snowman challenge as the judges tasted immediately after we finished so the snowman wouldn’t melt. Michael and I were actually filmed separately for this challenge and then during the edit it looked as though we were in the same room.

Who was your favourite guest judge?
Heston Blumenthal or Maggie Beer.

Favourite challenge during Masterchef?
I loved going to Matt Moran’s farm in the middle of the country and being surrounded by fresh air again. I think the location for this challenge and having an understanding of the locals coming to taste the food gave me a massive advantage.

What produce did you struggle with during Masterchef?
Seafood has never been a big part of my cooking repertoire so was definitely a challenge for me.

What do you love most about living in the country?
I love the fact that there is little traffic here in Orange and lots of fresh air. The people here are so friendly and there is great foodie culture.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of making a move from Sydney to rural NSW?
Do it! When we moved, it felt so big and daunting, but 2 weeks later we realised it wasn’t hard at all.

When do you most enjoy cooking?
It is an opportunity for me to be creative and to give to other people.

What is the last great book you read?
‘In Search of Total Perfection,’ by Heston Blumenthal. The book is told just like a story and it is really interesting.

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