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Wine & Dine
December 08, 2015

Masterchef Mania: Grilling Georgia Barnes

Text by Simone Louis

Verve gets a signature dish designed by MasterChef Australia Season 7 contestant Georgia Barnes, as we discover her cooking quirks, dessert preferences and thoughts about the show

Competition means…
So much, now. It has helped me embrace a whole new side of myself; it taught me how to push boundaries and refine my skills under pressure.

What comes to mind when you think of MasterChef Australia?
I recall the smell of fresh herbs from the garden that engulfs you before you enter the MasterChef kitchen, the sound of the judges’ voices counting down (and also yelling at us sometimes) and the sight of our benches — we spent so much time at them.

Did you discover any personal cooking quirks?
Yes, that I’m a really messy chef!

Name one person you would most like to cook for…
My grandmother. She was the person who really inspired me to go down this path. She’s not with us any more, so it would be really lovely to show her how far I’ve come.

What was the first thing you ever cooked?
It’s blurry, because I started cooking when I was very young, but I do remember that fruit salad was my absolute favourite thing to make. It’s quite easy, but it was a modest start to what would become a great future.

And your most embarrassing food moment?
The time I almost knocked out Chef Marco (Pierre White) with a champagne cork, during a team challenge!

What’s you favourite food movie?
The Hundred-Foot Journey.

Have you made any new ingredient discoveries?
Yeah, I really like seaweed at the moment. It’s interesting because there’s actually much more you can do with it than you would imagine.

One dish that you’ve never tried…
There’s this Chinese delicacy called the Century Egg – I’m not sure if I have the courage to eat it, but I’d like to try someday.

How do you stay calm under moments of high pressure?
I actually don’t think I’ve been calm at all, most of the time. But the main thing I’ve learned on the show was to just focus. There are so many things that could go wrong, but, if you think of them, you won’t get anything done. It was important to just visualise, and then focus internally.

Is there anything you’ve had to unlearn on the show?
Having everything planned out all the time. I’ve always been an extremely organised person so, initially, it was hard to not know what you’re going to be doing everyday on the show. We would only find out each morning what awaited us that day. It was good, though, because I learned to let go…to just allow myself to go with the flow.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten lately?
Mud crabs at the beach back home.

And the weirdest thing you’ve ever tasted?
I’m not sure if this classifies as weird, but there’s this plant called ‘pig face’ which I got in one of the mystery boxes. I had noticed it growing along the beaches many times, but never knew it was edible. It has this salty taste; it kind of tastes like the sea.

Any industry pet peeves?
There’s not much that bothers me, especially since, in Australia, we are blessed to have a really great sense of camaraderie. Everyone works really well together; it’s a really productive environment. I do, however, wish that the whole fast food and take-out phenomenon was a little less prominent.

What music do you like to cook to?
We didn’t have any on the show, so I’m really enjoying the fact that I can now cook with some tunes playing. I really like listening to folk and relaxing indie music.

Sweet or spicy?
Sweet.

Home cooking or fine dining?
Home cooking, for sure.

Chocolate desserts or fruity desserts
This is so difficult! I can’t do this. Um, alright, I’ll say fruity.

If you had to create a signature Verve dish for our 20th anniversary…
It would be a lovely, wholesome, fresh dessert with mango and coconut, and a crumb. Luxurious, but not sickeningly sweet; something with both attitude and finesse. And also very healthy!

Don’t miss MasterChef Australia Season 7, Monday to Friday at 9 pm on Star World and Star World HD

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