Five Minutes with 2013 MasterChef Winner: Emma Dean

And the winner is… Emma Dean! The bubbly 35-year-old ex-transport planner from Victoria spoke to us today about taking out the coveted MasterChef title and what it means for her future.

Emma Dean MasterChef WinnerQ: How does it feel to win MasterChef? What does it mean to be Australia’s new MasterChef?

It’s kind of sunk in, I kind of can’t believe it, and I haven’t really been out in the real world yet. It gives me a platform to launch into a career that’s creative and a business. I’m jumping into the unknown – I’ve come from a conservative government job, and I’m so excited that this will give me more of a boost than if I had done it without being on the show. And the show has given me the confidence to do it as well, because you have to believe in it. And it’s taught me that what you do believe and what you’re thinking is often right – not always, but often.

Q: You had taken a redundancy from your job, so the show seemed to have come around at the right time for you…

A friend said to me once, I’ve got too much spirit to be underneath fluorescent lights, which was quite a lovely thing to say. I’m social and creative, and it’s hard being behind a desk all day and restricted in the parameters of town planning. I did quite love it, but it’s restrictive. And I love making people happy. I think the restaurant will be fabulous. It’s a big, brave step, but I’m really excited.

Q: What’s next for you, and how will the $100,000 make your foodie dreams possible?

It’s taken the pressure off – I was terrified, to be honest, I have a mortgage that needs to be looked after, so it’s taken some pressure off so I can start the city restaurant and keep my house! It gives me room to breathe. We’ve bought second-hand commercial kitchen equipment, so we can find a space, like a great shop, that we can retro-fit if we need to.

Q: Part of the prize was a book deal – have you given any thought to the type of cookbook you want to write?

My ultimate restaurant will be a kitchen garden or a farm gate with a restaurant attached to it. So I want the book to reflect that philosophy: cooking with seasonal food, using herbs and making it accessible. If you want to grow parsley in a pot, or grow some trees or vegies, you can do that. Or go to a great farmers’ market. What I learnt from MasterChef was you don’t have to have a million ingredients to make a beautiful dish. I want to showcase the simplicity and beauty of great ingredients.

Q: What three words best describe your MasterChef experience?

Exhilarating. Challenging. Love.