At the end of a huge “Heston Week” on MasterChef Australia, last night Noelene Marchwiki was sent home when her fish head curry with frozen curry jellies couldn’t compete with the standout dishes served up by the other contestants. Here’s what Noelene had to tell us about her time on the show.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your time on MasterChef – what’s life like as a MasterChef contestant?
It was an amazing time. It was terrific, but the hardest thing I had ever done. It was hard to be isolated from family and friends; you’re living with people that you have to get to know really quickly. You have no social interaction with the outside, but you actually get used to that fairly quickly because it’s so intense – it’s about the cooking, the mystery, what are they going to throw at us next? It was a wondrous experience, but so hard.
The thing I really want to get across to people is you don’t have to be a MasterChef or an amateur MasterChef to be a good cook. It’s just a matter of having the passion to want to get in there and cook. Don’t be scared, don’t be put off, just do what you love doing and that’s cooking.
Q: What were the best and worst moments of your MasterChef experience?
The highs were going to marvellous places throughout Australia, getting out of your comfort zone and getting to cook things you never would have thought you were capable of. The lows are the personal criticisms, and everyone has a bad day in the kitchen. It’s actually very good, but because you know it’s not the best thing you’ve put up and not up to the judges’ standards, you feel demoralised.
Q: How do you feel about just missing out on the trip to Dubai?
If you’re on MasterChef, you don’t miss out on anything. I’ve been to the most wondrous places in Australia. I’m not at all disappointed I didn’t get to go to Dubai. Nothing could take away or add to what I experienced. That was for the people who were left there, and they deserved it.
Q: How do you feel now about the elimination challenge?
What I cooked last night was me on a plate. I cook those types of meals all the time. I’m about no waste, and my feelings are that it’s a shame we slaughter animals and we only eat a small part. So if I can make things from the carcass, I will. Last night had to be that way. I chose fish head because I think they are the most beautiful tasting part of some fish, and I was really happy with what I cooked. But there wasn’t enough theatre in it, and that’s what we had to do with that challenge. I was really proud of what I put up; Heston is a wonderful chef, but it’s not my style of cooking. It was my time to leave, I was to step up to the challenge and I didn’t. I would have been more devastated if it had been burnt toast that sent me home!
Q: What are your plans for the future – will you pursue food?
I went on MasterChef because of empty nest syndrome – I thought, what am I going to do when the house is empty at the end of this year? The house will still be empty, but now I know I have so much more to offer. I’ll be doing cooking classes from home, and getting Dial An Occasion up and running. It’s a catering service where I go and cook in people’s home so they can have their foodie functions; I cook and they sit and enjoy the meal.
Q: Who do you think is going to win MasterChef?
Any one of the eight remaining could easily take out the title. But I think Rishi and Samira are in with a good chance.
Q: What three words best describe the MasterChef kitchen?
Challenging, education and a little bit scary!