As an 18-year-old, Jessie Spiby — MasterChef Australia season 7 contestant — packed her bags and moved to the United Kingdom (UK) with just $500 in her pocket. “While I was there, I travelled to any country I could afford to go to. I ate a lot of interesting food in Turkey, Croatia and Italy,” says the 28-year-old. It was during this two-year stint overseas that Spiby discovered her food dream.
Today, a decade later, she is in the running to be the next MasterChef Australia. Spiby’s entry in MasterChef has been as eventful as her journey on the show so far. She was working as a graphic designer for a music magazine when it went under. “I became redundant at work and decided to apply for the show on a whim,” says Spiby.
The Adelaide-based cook was the last contestant to be called on the show. Recently, she was given a second chance by judge Matt Preston when the 14 previously eliminated contestants returned to compete for a second chance for the Top 10 spot. “It took me a while to trust the fact that I deserved to be there and to stop worrying about being the next one to go home,” she adds.
Growing up, Spiby spent a lot of time in her grandmother’s kitchen. “She would feed any number of people that showed up at her door. I learnt the importance of eating lots of vegetables from her,” says Spiby. Known to use a lot of Asian influences in her cooking and with a soft corner for big, bold flavours, the young chef hopes to continue her food journey even after the show ends. “I definitely want to be cooking and feeding people. I want to engage with people through my food,” she says.
A lover of all things Asian, Spiby loves to cook Indian food. She enjoys dishes like malai kofta, palak paneer and naan. “I cook a few different types of dal as well,” she adds. So is she planning to visit the country anytime soon? “My parents travelled to India before I was born and fell in love with the country. I’ve grown up hearing stories about the beautiful people and all the beautiful food. India has been top of my list for a while now,” she adds.
MasterChef Australia Season 7 airs Monday to Friday, 9pm on Star World