All posts for the month October, 2010

A once in a lifetime opportunity – Masterchef Audition Round 1

Published October 29, 2010 by Mary Jane

Anyways, yup – you’ve read it correctly it’s Masterchef Audition Round 1. As most of you guys know I’m really into Masterchef and have ever been addicted to the show since it first started. I would follow this show without fail and wishing that I was one of the contestants there competing. That was Masterchef series 1. By the time it was Masterchef series 2, same thing happened – I was still glued to the show but before then I actually thought about applying for the audition but talked my way out of it as I had a few friend’s wedding happening that year and have made some commitments and it just wasn’t the right time for me to go on the audition. That was Masterchef series 2. After watching the series 2 and was over joyed that Adam has won the Masterchef title and thought to myself maybe there’s a chance for me after all. This will be a very long post – be warned…

So one night, I was reminded by my colleague that Masterchef audition is now open for application and that I should really apply. I didn’t think too much about it but was curious to find out what sort of questions they ask online. When I started applying “for fun” – there were so many questions, probably around 80 hehehe maybe I was exaggerating but it just seems like I’m never going to finish the application. At the end of the application you were asked to submit a photo of yourself, I thought out of “fun” I would put a picture of me with a plate that had tomato sauce smiley face on it. I didn’t think of it too much and totally forgot that I have applied for Masterchef some months ago.

One day at the office I received a phone call on my mobile with a (02) – that’s a Sydney number, I don’t know who will be calling me from Sydney and it went somewhere along the lines of “Hi, this is Kirsty from Masterchef congratulations you have been shortlisted from thousands of applications to come for an audition” I was thinking at that time is this a joke?? But it isn’t cos after the phone call I received an email outlining details of Masterchef series 3 audition guidelines for round 1 and if you are successful there will be a round 2 Judging day cook off. So I was over the moon, I couldn’t believe that I was selected amongst thousands of applications. If I had my way I would have jumped up and down and screamed out loud “hooray” but I had to keep my calm. I was told that my audition day will be 2 days after I have returned from my holidays. What a perfect timing that it didn’t happen during my holiday trip.

So having been on diets lately I haven’t been cooking much and I desperately need to decide what I need to cook for the round 1 audition day. The guideline said you can bring one plated up dish and please remember there’s no heating or refrigeration facility. I was shocked, what? Most of my dishes are hot temperature dishes – the only thing I could think of that will work would be desserts or salads or some sort of cold dishes. So thinking hard I couldn’t decide what to cook and which cuisine to cook. I started thinking about heading towards Thai cuisine – a nice thai seafood salad served with fish cakes but I was told that salads are boring!! So I scrapped that idea and decided maybe I should stick to my root – Taiwanese Cuisine. So I did a few mock up of taiwanese dishes – dumplings, deep fried chicken, spring onion pancakes, taiwanese style spring rolls and in the end they all didn’t taste too good when they’re cold. So it’s back to drawing board again.

After some time of digging my brains I decided to cook Taiwanese beef noodle soup served with Taiwanese style spring rolls and pickled vegies. It’s definitely a risky dish as it’s not something that people have commonly tasted. Thankfully, my sister in law lend me all the plates, bowls, chopsticks, chiller bags, containers and even a thermal pot to try keep my Taiwanese beef noodle soup warm. So after returning back from my Singapore/Malaysia trip I was exhausted but had to grab some ingredients to cook on Tuesday. I stupidly went to work on Monday as well so by the time I got home I was exhausted haven’t quite recovered full from the tummy bug I had in Singapore. Anyways, so I started cooking my dish on Monday night and the cooking lasted for few hours and then by about 10:30pm I’ve packed everything and thought I’ll cook the noodles and vegies first thing Tuesday morning so I had to get up around 6.30am as my audition time was 8am!! So early…but I’m glad at least I get it out of the way and didn’t have to suffer the torture of waiting till afternoon.

I have no idea where this place is – William Angus Institute (Tafe) so I caught the tram and grabbed the direction from Pandabear and then when I hopped on the tram I was carting 2 chiller bags along with a thermal pot. People were staring at me wondering why this crazy girl carting so much stuff early in the morning. Anyways, I politely asked a gentleman whether he knew where William Angus Institute was and he said sorry I’m not sure. Thankfully, a nice young lady said to me I’m heading towards that Tafe I can take you there. Thank God! So I followed this student to the Tafe and was confused where Is should be going as there weren’t many signage around. So I saw a canteen chef sitting at the table so I went and ask her “excuse me do you know where Masterchef Audition is held?” she pointed me to the right direction and said “by the way good luck!” and I replied “Thanks! I’ll need it…”

So finally I have arrived at the audition place, expecting hundreds of people to queue up for the audition but I was one of the first to arrive there and they were still setting up tables and getting ready for the audition. I registered myself and was asked to sit near the sofa area and wait till they are ready – I’m actually early! So a guy came and sorry I couldn’t remember his name but he was a fitness dude and have made a dessert for the audition so I had a brief chat with him. We were then called off to complete some forms. We sat down on the table and few other contestant for the 8am audition started to rock up. To be honest the forms were really long – one page of questions that were quite similar from the questions we had online. Two questions which I remembered was if you were a food what would you be and why. Also tell us a secret or something that had happen to you that will make us laugh or be shocked about. For the food – it’s definitely sushi – cos it’s tasty, healthy, you can make all different sorts of wonderful sushi – adaptable and flexible and why wouldn’t anyone like sushi? As for the secret, I shall reveal later on….

So we got told to move into the audition room there was about 8 of us and we were given some time to plate up our food. I feel ridiculous carrying 2 chiller bags and a thermal pot and my dish took a little longer to plate up as I had to wrap the spring roll and separate all the ingredients on my plate so I can show them what was wrapped inside the spring roll. Inside the audition room we had 2 female and 1 male. I think the 2 female one was the initial person (agency) who rang me – Kirsty and the other one I can’t remember and the male which was a chef/producer was there. So we were each given 3 minutes to talk about our dish and the 3 people could just ask us any questions. I was really nervous after observing all the other contestant’s food which range from – delicious sashimi lightly seared with beetroot and spring onion shavings, 2 desserts – one was a caramel chocolate ganache tart and a mars bar cake (from Masterchef recipe), poached quail with quail eggs, seafood pasta and goats cheese wrapped with olive leaves. Seriously, I felt like my dish was out of place compared to the rest of the other contestants..

When it came to my turn to discuss about my dish I told them it’s Taiwanese dish that I’m presenting and I said to them I wanted to stick to my root so I’ve made one of most famous dish in Taiwan – the beef noodle soup. The chef/producer asked me how did I pickled my vegies and the way I cooked my beef noodle soup so I had to go through the steps of me making them from scratch. They also asked me why did I want to join Masterchef – cos hopefully I can own my own restaurant one day. So after everyone has their turns in talking about their dish it was tasting them. We were paired up and we get to taste our partner’s food and make comments. They warned us they didn’t want to hear comments such as “This is really nice” we were suppose to be cooks that are able to critic food. So I got paired up with a girl named Elisa (I think) and she had the quail and quail eggs – I thought the quail was nicely done, tender and the quail eggs reminded me of a taiwanese tea egg recipe. So I asked her what cuisine is this and she said it’s a fusion of modern Asian. No wonder I could taste the star anise and asian flavours. She tasted my dish and said she liked my beef noodle soup but the spring roll was a little bland. Then we were allowed to taste everyone’s food while the 3 producers went into their room and will come back and let us know whether we have progressed to the next round.

So after a few minutes, we started packing all our dishes away and the male chef/producer came back and told us we all got through. We were all very glad and he gave some feedback on our dishes. He said he liked my pickled vegies but thought the spring roll was only ok as it was something that I put a whole lot of ingredients together and wrap them up. (How bizarre, I actually spent the most time preparing the ingredients for the spring roll – cooking each individual ingredients carefully). He didn’t make any comment about my beef noodle soup. So after we were escorted to the waiting area for interview, I went back to see him and asked what he thought of my beef noodle soup. He said yes it’s quite nice except the way you plate up sort of made it look plain/home made rather than restaurant modern style.

So we were all waiting and sitting down in the sofa area discussing how excited we are to have progressed to the next stage we were then told to go into the interview room together and inside were 3 other new producers along with a TV camera standing there shooting. We were told by the producers how tough Masterchef will be. We’ll be told when to go to toilet, when to eat, when to get dressed, when to film and when to have our free time. It literally sounded like an army boot camp. It will be long hour days of shooting, our spare time will be spent writing recipes and things, we’ll be living with other contestants in a confined space and sometimes we will wear same clothes for the consecutive days for shooting purpose and will have limited or no internet/mobile phone contacts with the world. It was pretty daunting, after coming out of that room I was beginning to doubt whether I have signed myself up for Masterchef or Masterchef Army Camp from Hell. So I walked out speaking out loud “I don’t know whether I can do this” a dude past by and said “of course you can, YOU CAN DO IT!!”

So we were individually interviewed and when it was my turn for interview, when you walk in you had to write your name on the little white board carry it infront of you while they shoot you from the camera and the entire interview was video taped. So one of the female producer asked me so what dish did you make? I said Taiwanese dish. She’s like what’s Taiwanese dish and why did you make Taiwanese dish? I had to explain cos it’s my root and eventually I would like to own my own restaurant serving Taiwanese food. She then asked me how old I was – I replied “29” and they all laughed and said “we thought you were 19, you’ve done pretty well in keeping your youthful looking”. Then she read through my application and said “I know you’ve mentioned that you don’t want to mention about your dad – could you please briefly mention it?” I was like, look I didn’t want to be like the past contestants carrying sob drama stories about how they want to cook because either their mum or dad have passed away. I wanted to be judged purely on my passion for food and cooking so I briefly answered it. They then ask me what will I cook if I was to get through to round 2 for the judges. I said I’ll stick to Taiwanese dishes probably some dumplings and pork belly. She replied “well, cooking Taiwanese food might be an advantage for you as it’s never been done on Masterchef show before but it could also be a disadvantage for you if the judges don’t like Taiwanese food”. Well, it’s the risk that I’m willing to take. She continued reading through my application and said you’ve mentioned in your application that one of your goals in life is to please God and do His will. Can you explain to us what do you mean by that? *She specifically clarified that question and said cos she’s not a religious person, she wants to know more about it* I wasn’t prepared for that question and within split second I thought to myself, this is the opportunity for me to share my faith with the 3 producers so I told them my religion is Christianity – Presbyterian and I regularly attended church every Sunday and I pray to God and try to read God’s word every day. Then the producer said “are you aware that if you were successful in getting into Masterchef you won’t be able to attend church for at least 7 months?” I think they must have saw my shocked facial expression then another producer quickly replied “well, if you have spare time you can choose to attend church if you want to..but it will be limited and we just don’t want you to have a break down if you cant go to church”. I was starting to think whether this was a good idea but I replied I should be ok, provided I can pray and read my bible. One last question from the 3rd male producer who haven’t actually said anything during the whole time. On your application your secret was that “you once told a bully who was bullying your little sister that you would rip his head off if he doesn’t stop his bullying” is that true? I was like yeah, but that was back in primary school. I don’t do that anymore. They all had a little laugh..phew at least they didn’t think I was a violent person…or did they??

After the interview we had to fill in more forms, police clearance forms and psychiatric test questionnaires. I guess they have to make sure if any of us get in none of us would be criminals or mentally ill people just for our safety measures. We were told that at night we would get a phone call either way to let us know whether we got through to the next round of audition. I was like “Oh what we have to wait till night time, that’s a long time” I wanted to know the result right now. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to share my Christian faith with the judges but I also thought it might be something that would have costed my “Masterchef dream” but I wasn’t going to deny my faith for Masterchef as God is too important to me. What ever happens, I’m just glad I’ve gotten this far.

So at night, waiting for a call by about 7pm I still haven’t received a phone call and thought to myself well, I probably didn’t get in. By about 7 something I received a phone call and it’s a girl (can’t remember her name) from Masterchef “Is this Maryann? Hi, congratulations you have been short listed to next round of judging day where you get to cook for George and Gary in a commercial kitchen for an hour” I was so excited!! Yay that’s so cool, had to compose myself as it was really unexpected and I can’t believe I have made it to the next round 🙂


A disaster waiting to happen – Masterchef Audition Round 2

Published October 29, 2010 by Mary Jane

Okies, so continuing on from round 1. It was unfortunate that we weren’t allowed cameras into the Masterchef auditions otherwise I would have been happily snapping away, get carried away and would have remembered most of the things, peoples names and some details as you guys all know I have a fish memory. So I was told Tuesday night that I got into round 2 of Masterchef audition and I’ve got work on Wednesday so that leaves me lunch break to go and pick up some fresh ingredients to cook for my round 2 audition on Thursday and my audition time is 10am in the morning – yay I love my mornings. I was going to bring my food processor on the day but was told it needs to be tagged so I need to get there around 6.30am or something I was like what?? That’s so early, my audition time isn’t till 10am so I decided to stick to my knife skill instead of bringing any electrical appliances.

On Wednesday morning I woke up feeling extremely tired and to realised that I’ve go ‘time of the month’ NO!!!! When I get that I get extremely tired for the first few days and it has come at a bad timing…and my tummy was so sore with cramps that I couldn’t make it to work that day. Instead I decided to sleep it off for the whole day and only woke myself up and dragged myself out of bed to buy some fresh ingredients for my audition and then snuggled back to bed and slept for the whole day till 6pm cos I was hungry. Anyways, I started drawing pictures of how I would be plating up and decided to not practice my dish as I didn’t want to waste my ingredients. I’ve decided to stick to the Taiwanese root and make Taiwanese style pork belly with tofu and eggs served with some pan fried dumplings and cucumber salad. So I packed everything into my chiller bags and left some goodies in the fridge by that time it was midnight already but some how I was still extremely awake due to sleeping the whole day. It was a risky decision to cook Taiwanese cuisine as my strength is actually the Western Cuisine, but I was stubborn in trying to stick to my root. On the hind side perhaps I should have stick to one of My Jamie Oliver’s cook book challenge recipe hehehehe.

So when I stared at the clock it was 4am in the morning and I was still awake thinking I really need to get some sleep then it was around 6am that I unfortunately dosed off and the alarm woke me up around 8.30am. NO!!! I was so tired but forced myself out of bed and had a quick shower to refresh myself. In total I packed 2 full chiller bags. One for sauces and dry spices and the another was refrigeration stuff along with one plastic bag full of my basic kitchen utensils. Pandabear had that day off so he offered to drop me off at the William Angliss Institute. So I told him where to drop me off and I ended up pointing to the wrong building by the time I realised it wasn’t the right place I was too late Pandabear had already driven off 😦 So I had to cart these heavy bags worth of goodies and walk a few blocks to get to the right place. I eventually made it there huffing and puffing…what a bad start to the day…

I got there on time, there were already 3 contestants already sitting there chatting away. I sort of remembered their names. Sarah, Kirsten and Amanda cos there were only 3 people to remember 🙂 apparently they were all from the same group so I didn’t clicked on with the group straight away. Partially I was trying to reserve my energy – well, what’s left of it – coming on with some headaches due to lack of sleep. As you guys know I need at least 8 hours of sleep to function plus I was a little cranky as I had my “time of the month”. Then I saw Elisa – yay 🙂 she was my partner for the tasting of food and was from my group. So I happily went up to her and had a brief chat with her. We were waiting there for what seemed like hours. Then all the contestants have arrived. It was a All girls group – there were 6 of us. Then I met Ariana who had pink nail polish on and funky clothes as well.

So the Herald Sun mob arrived with a full on camera recording and a photographer tagging along. It was unreal, there were heaps of people around – the casting crew, the producers, the judges, the herald sun mob. The journalist started interviewing some of us and unfortunately I didn’t really get interviewed perhaps it was due to my quietness and scarily tired looking face. But I didn’t mind as I was trying hard to preserve my energy. Then as we were chatting I was starting at the girls’ equipment, my goodness nearly all of them carried a a few trolleys I was starting to feel a little unprepared and they all brought their kitchen pots and pans. I didn’t!! So I quickly asked the staff whether there were pots and pans and saucers and thank goodness there were. Phew…I initially thought we were still in the early days of competition maybe top few hundreds but to my horror this audition we were fighting for a spot in the top 50 within Australia!!

We were escorted to the commercial kitchen area. Inside this room there’s even more people. The William Angliss Institute’s own staff, the camera man, herald sun, the producers and even a paramedic too. This is my first time working at a commercial kitchen – I was so excited and I could feel my adrenaline pumping and my heart racing. We were asked to sanitised our hands and was allocated a spot on the bench and we could start unpacking our goodies. So Sarah was making duck a l’orange, Kirsten was making a Filipino dessert – Halo Halo, Ariana was making baked eggs with cherizo, Amanda was making herb crusted lamb cutlets, Elisa was making a seafood digastation (impressive) and me ofcourse sticking to my Taiwanese pork belly dish. Then the judges walked in – Gary and George and George started making a few comments, it was then I realised that this is all real and I wasn’t dreaming at all when George announced “Your 1 hour starts now!!” So frantically I started plotting what I was going to cook, soaking mushrooms for my dumplings – making my dumpling fillings first, chopping up all my vegies and decided to cook my pork belly first as it takes time for it to cook and become tender and then I’ll make my cucumber salad.

Now I was thinking to myself, 1 hour is plenty of time for my 3 dishes – but I was so wrong. I wasn’t used to the heating in the commercial kitchen and find it hard to adjust to the temperature I want and then I realised I also need to cook some rice, didn’t have any rice cooker so I had to boil my rice the western way which I’m not sure whether will turn out ok. There was a lot happening at the same time you see camera man going around filming everyone and photographer snapping pictures and then George and Gary will come around to our individual bench to talk to us or should I say to grill us. Honestly, I was frantically running around and I had like 3 pots boiling at the same time and pan going – I was busy! But for some strange reason the 1 hour went so fast, I find myself trailing behind and was starting to regret I didn’t just stick to one dish like everyone else instead pushing myself to make these 3 dishes.

The producer came to me and said “are you ready for Gary and George to come and talk to you?” I was like “um…should be ok, I just need to turn off the fire for my boiling rice” and she said that’s ok just keep doing what you’re doing I’ll tell them to interview last. So that gave me some extra time I suppose, eventually I could hear Gary & George walking towards my bench. I was still frantically running around and my goodness my benchtop had everything I was struggling to find space to put my other staff. Gary & George asked me what I was cooking and I told them about the pork belly and that it was Taiwanese style. Gary asked me “What is predominantly Taiwanese flavours?” I said we used alot of garlic, ginger, white pepper, star anise and forgot to mention five spice powder. So he started sniffling my dumpling filling and went to my pot of pork belly which was still cooking on the stove. George asked me what did I do for living and why I wanted to join Masterchef. I said I was hoping I could own a restaurant one day that will serve Taiwanese food, I wanted to stick to my root. His short reply was “Good girl!” Then when I told him I wanted to my restaurant in Perth he was like frowning then I explained I’m actually from Perth just happen to be in Melbourne during the time of audition. He saw my cucumbers and said are they from the garden. I said no! They are from the markets – on hind side maybe I would have scored a few brownie points for mentioning they were from the garden but I didn’t want to lie!

So they left me alone and eventually, the chef/producer guy come along and whisper to me I’ve got 3 minutes left. I was in high pressure and I think he thought I must be struggling cos he kept coming back and whispering to me “You can cook but you’re very messy!” and started helping me rearrange my knives to make sure I don’t cut myself and asked me whether it was ok for him to shift some bottles of sauces to the back. Which I was grateful for but it was kinda slowing me down!! Okies, series of bad things that have happened while I was cooking. I started pan frying my dumplings – I made 3 and then the skin was sticking to the pan – to my horror the kitchen didn’t have a non-stick pan I should have brought my own was too late now..I had 3 minutes left. So I fished it out with missing bottoms. For some reason, my pork belly doesn’t really look like they have caramelised enough, so I crank up the heat and didn’t have time to taste the pork belly as for my cucumber salad I suppose to marinate them in sauce first for at least 30 min but I didn’t have enough time so I quickly whipped them up, also didn’t have enough time to taste it. So seriously, when I was told I had 1 min left to plate up I was panicking!! Some of the girls have already finished plating up so they get to have their dishes tasted first. I started plating up according to how I would like it to be based on my sketch. Finally, I made it in time. After staring at my dish I was laughing inside as my dish looks like something a primary school kid would plate up – very colourful, bold and rustic..oh also I managed to burn myself and one of the chef spotted me holding a tea towel on my wrist he whispered “did you burn yourself?” I nodded and he said “did you run it under cold water?” I replied “sort of..” so he escorted me to the paramedics to get some burn cream and the paramedic lady said would you like some bandage? I’m like “Nah! That would look a little silly”

Now it’s tasting time, individually we’ll have to bring our dish to Gary and George for tasting and grilling with a camera man holding this huge camera alone with a huge microphone dangling down and they have to tell us where to stand and when they will start rolling the cameras. Ariana went first and she got through straight away, followed by Elisa with the seafood digastation which I was very impressed with she also got through. Then there was Kirsten who had a maybe, Sarah with the duck got a NO! She started balling her eyes out, I felt so sorry for her as she started crying as if her whole entire dream was shattered. She wanted to get a chef apprenticeship out of this show, and I wanted to go up to her to hug her and tell her it’s not the end of the world there’s other avenues of pursuing a chef apprenticeship but I didn’t have that time as it was my turn to present my dish.

So it was left between me and Amanda to present our dishes. I went up and try to make the whole situation seemed less tense by saying “Ta da!!!” and Gary was impressed by George wasn’t. So they started tasting my dishes and making comments. They asked me how would I organise my restaurant. I said I would probably be the head chef and would employ a sou chef. Gary asked me a very silly question – I thought “if a Taiwanese Chef was to taste your dish what do you think he would say?” I was thinking to myself, what a silly question or is it a trick question?? I simply replied I think “he would be pleased with what I have made, as I tried to make it Authentic Taiwanese style but maybe it’s more like a comfort food rather than a restaurant style food but then again I’ve never had a Taiwanese chef tasting my food” Honestly, strategically speaking I don’t think I answered his question very well. But I was struggling to remain focus as by that time I was about to faint due to exhaustion. Then George started to mock my presentation by taking out the cucumbers which I had 4 blocks sliced in an angle to form a square casing for my pork belly and took them out of the dish and said “if you were to own your own restaurant you will go bust! These cucumbers are a waste of money as a garnish” Then he was playing with my flower which I delicately plated up with spring onion as the stem and cucumbers and cherry tomatoes with coriander leaves as flower petals. Really, I didn’t have enough energy to defend myself. If it was the usual me I would have said “George, didn’t your mother tell you not to play with your food and eat your greens and forced him to eat all my cucumbers!” Personally, I thought he was rather rude and was disrespecting my food! So I kept quiet the whole time as I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself and be a bad testimony for the Lord – maybe I should have progressed on with some sort of sob stories and dramas but that’s just not me! Like I said I didn’t want them to let me through cos of my dramas of sob stories and burning my hand. on the hind side it would have been a very interesting episode of me telling them both off, after that I didn’t talk much. Then George was tasting my dumplings and he liked my spoon of chilli bean paste and soya sauce dipping but it was too spicy for him!! He also found out my dumplings had missing bottoms. He asked “were they meant to be like that?” I was laughing inside replied “nope, I didn’t know the kitchen’s pan were not non-stick pans cheekily thinking to myself toughen up George chillies are good for you”. Gary to his credit made a constructive feedback saying how I should have plated up was to keep it modern and simple like keeping pork belly inside a tea pot he said my dish was a old Taiwanese dish instead of a modern Taiwanese dish etc… hehehe I kinda thought my dish was a young dish due to it’s creative flowers and cucumber casing. But both of them didn’t even comment on the flavour of my food at all! Then the grilling session was over. I was told a “Maybe”. Honestly, I made the flowers as a remembrance to my mum as she has taught me all the Taiwanese dishes and she loves flowers also it’s spring – I wanted some flowers on my plate to represent that, but they didn’t give me the time to explain my flowers or I was too exhausted to say anything.

Then it was Amanda’s turn and she had the herb crusted lamb cutlet very nicely done, pink and tender and very nicely presented. When Gary and George tasted her food they were both happy with her lamb and asked her many questions, I was so sure she was a definite “yes” but she got a “maybe” after the grilling she was really upset and started tearing up. She should have gotten a “yes” I was starting to think both Gary and George were racist…hehehe since there were many great Asian cooks in the previous episode. I really hope her “maybe” would eventuate to a Yes as she deserve to be at the top 50.

Anyways, we were told that the “maybes” would be contacted after 2 weeks when they have done their Sydney audition which was the last state. To be honest, I have a gut feeling I haven’t got in due to my poor performance on the day. I calculated I probably had 0.001% of getting in and after reading some masterchef audition forums it kinda look like it was heading that way. Still, I guess there was still that 0.001% chance. Either way, I’m happy with the result and have never imagined myself to have gone this far and I really thank God for the opportunity of getting a taste of what’s it like working in a commercial kitchen, handling the heat, pressure and time management factor.

So last night while I was at the gym slaving away, I received a phone call from Kirsty she said “hi Maryann, how’s going?” I replied “you are here to deliver the bad news aint you?” She suddenly dropped her tone and replied “yes, sorry…but you should apply again next year” and I replied “that’s ok…” I should have asked her for some feedback and also whether Amanda or Kirsten go through..but I had hang up the phone already. Anyways, was I disappointed maybe alittle but was I upset? Not at all, I gave my best shot and unfortunately, the day I needed to impress the judges I did not do but hey, I’m proud of myself and thanks to all the people who have supported me along this short and sweet Masterchef journey. It’s unfortunately, this will be the first and last time for me to sign up with Masterchef for an audition. Even though my Masterchef journey has come to an end, I’m grateful for the opportunity that God has given me and I have no regrets now. I don’t want to wait till I’m 60 and thinking what it will be like if I have signed up for Masterchef. Now, it’s not the end to my future of potentially owning a restaurant God willing. If that day does come guess who would I invite to my restaurant? Yup, you guessed it – Gary (which I thought look like a happy buddha) and George (Pandabear thinks he’s got a ‘small man syndrome’ but I personally thinks he reminds me of Gordon Ramsay). I would serve the exact dishes which I have presented and just to rub it in I would serve George with massive cucumbers and demand he eats them all hehehehe. I’m so evil!! Muahhhhahahah (evil laughs) I rest my food case. But honestly, I’m pretty sure they are really nice people in real life but for the sake of show really they need to be rude and mean to spice up the show.

Oh, here’s my less than 1 minute of fame on Herald Sun website showing a small video clip of me in the corner looking flustered heheeh see if you can spot me! I was disappointed as after the audition, Herald Sun photographer has taken so many pictures of 6 of us and I really want to get a copy of them for my Masterchef memory…I shall see whether I can track them down. Some of the photos were hilarious!

so here’s the link showing my less than 1 minute of fame if you can even spot me at all..

Blog Insight

Published October 29, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello people..I couldn’t sleep last night as I have hurt my left knee when vigorous cycling on the nauticulus ride 😦 so now I’m awake and since I can’t sleep I might as well catch up on my blog. Yay, it’s Saturday – I love the weekends even though they are always too short and before you know it, it’s back to work on Mondays. Well, I did promised that I would share something exciting that has happened to me recently then I’ll have to update about my recent Singapore/Malaysia trip and I should be all up to date with my blogging – yay!

Have a happy weekend guys and enjoy the next few exciting long posts…stay tuned 🙂

My Christian Faith…

Published October 28, 2010 by Mary Jane

Anyways, I don’t think I’ve ever shared about my faith on my blog so I think I’m going to do that now, sorry it’s going to be a long one…

Anyways, I grew up in a Buddhist family. My grandparents were firm Buddhists – they even got baptised and my mum well, she just follows my grandmother. So we as kids just automatically followed my mum worshiping idols and Buddha and going to temples. But I never really feel the peace inside me. So one of my mum’s close friends who is a Christian have asked my mum to take us to church. My first reaction was NO!! I don’t want to be converted, I’m happy being a buddhist!! So I didn’t really want to go to church. So my mum’s friend persisted in inviting us to visit the church and if we visit once and felt uncomfortable we could just don’t go again.

So on one Sunday out of obligation my mum took the 3 of us to church, I can’t remember the exact date but we visited Bible-Presbyterian Church of Western Australia (BPCWA). My first reaction to the worship service was that it was formal and it was kinda weird that everyone were standing and singing hymn songs but I didn’t hate it infact I thought the hymn songs were quite nice and I actually felt quite peaceful attending the service. I don’t know what made me return back to the church for a second visit, I was introduced to a few young people and was told there will be a sunday school class for those who have questions about Christianity. Out of curiosity I decided to attend the Sunday school class. At that time the church had a visiting pastor by the name of Rev Pang and he was teaching the Sunday school class, so one Sunday morning I attended his class and every time he discussed about biblical things I would interrupt him with questions, they aint just normal questions – they were curly ones which I hope he wouldn’t have the answer for.

But Rev Pang was patient at all times, he thoroughly answered all my questions and was being polite at all times. Well, it was time for him to go back to his own church in Saipan so he shooked hands with me and my mum and said “Maryann, I hope my second visit to BPCWA you will receive Christ into your heart and be baptised” I was thinking to myself, what a joke – good luck I’ll never be baptised…so I thought and at that stage I did not know that the Lord has already started working in my stubborn heart. During these times I have tried to research on religion as I was curious to find out what is the difference between Christianity and Buddhism and to my surprise I started doubting my faith in Buddhism and whether I was believing and worshiping in the wrong God.

A series of events have since happened which made me believe that what I was in fact worshiping the wrong God – Buddha. It was never taught in the buddism teachings that Buddha have claimed himself to be God. Infact the human race have worshiped him for many of the good works he have done while he was on earth. Predominantly Buddism teachings were focusing on doing charity works and that you can work your way through to paradise if you do good works in your life and they also believe in reincarnation as well. All in all I was confused as to why we are worshiping images and idols of so called Buddha Gods in temples and they rely upon us to feed them with temple food when they’re just images and idols made by humans. I had all these questions and when I compared to Christianity and started reading God’s word the Bible it clearly stated that Jesus Christ was the only way, the truth and light and that he died on the cross for all our sins so that who ever believed in Him will have eternal life.

No other religion have ever claimed they are the only true God and the only way – what makes me fascinated about Christianity is that the 66 books in the bible all fits so well with each other and even though they were written from many different periods of life by different people yet they all complimented each other. The teachings within the bible is perfect. So one night I prayed to God and asked him to reveal himself to me as at that time I still didn’t really believe in him 100% it was more or less a way of testing him out. At that time I was really sick and it was during my exam times so I prayed to God and said if you are the true God heal me and allow me to be able to go through my exams then I’ll believe in you. I was still testing God and surprisingly, I went through my examinations without feeling sick at all and from then on I start to realise God’s power and the power of prayer.

A few incidences have also confirmed God’s existence and I believe they are not coincidences. One night I decided to say the sinner’s prayer and receive God into my life as my personal savior. I’ve read from some testimonies of people who have said the sinner’s prayer have received this emotional outburst but I didn’t have any of those feelings. But I did have a feeling of peace in my heart knowing that I have received Jesus Christ as my personal savior and that my sins were forgiven and that I will go to heaven one day. Can I tell you it’s one of the best decisions I’ve never made in my whole entire life. I wish I had known Jesus Christ earlier instead of wasting my teenage days believing in Buddhism. But it’s never too late, after I attended the basic bible knowledge class I was then baptised and you know what? Rev Pang did visit our church the second time and I went up to him and told him I was baptised and have since believe in the Lord. He was so happy for me 🙂 later on, my whole family have believed in the Lord and they were all baptised. Even my dad who is Atheist was also baptised in the hospital when he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

I can’t thank God enough for his blessings, salvation, mercy and grace upon our family. Every time when I’m going through tough times in my life I would be reminded on how Jesus Christ has endured all the hardship in life while he was on earth and he was perfect and sinless but yet he was nailed to the cross and died for our sins and transgressions. Now I don’t live a day with fear as I know that God is in control of my life and that he will always be there to look after his children and look after all our needs. I love the story of footprint where a guy was walking on the beach one day with Jesus Christ and he sees two sets of footprints – his own and Jesus Christ’s one. So throughout his life Jesus have accompanied him all the way but soon he found only one set of foot prints and this was during the time when he was going through difficulties in his life so he asked Jesus why there’s only one set of foot print why did Jesus abandon him during his tough times. Jesus replied “My Dear Child it is then that I carried you in my arms and walked with you during these difficult times”

It is so true during the difficult times of my life Jesus has carried me in His arms. Some people ask me whether I hated my God because He has not healed my dad. If he was the Almighty God who is able to heal anyone with their sickness why didn’t he heal my dad at the time when we need him most. To be honest I never blamed God for not healing my dad from his liver cancer. I can’t answer why He chose not to heal my dad’s sickness as I know he has the power to heal if he wants to and it’s not for me to question His will. Even though life was difficult without my dad, God has never forsaken my family and He has always looked after every needs – whether it’s financial needs for the family or emotional needs. We never lacked in anything and sometimes I look back I would marvel on God’s wonderful blessings upon our family. My dad passed away during the time when we needed him most. My older sister just started her hair apprenticeship, my younger sister was still in high school and I was still studying in University on my final years. My mum has always been a house wife so we rely upon our dad’s income to make the ends meet. God has never stopped providing for us till this day. He would bring helpers in times of trouble and he never fails.

So I think I have been told that I can be a religious fanatic or being “Too Churchy” but I think when you have personally experienced God’s wonderful salvation and blessings in your life you would want to share with the people who you love and cared for and care about what happens to their life after death the consequences of not believing in Christ then they must be judged and face the lake of fire which will burn for eternally. I must admit I don’t actively share this with my friends who haven’t believed in Christ but I’m hoping if they do read this one day they too will come to know this wonderful Savior our Lord Jesus Christ and we will see each other in Heaven one day when we meet Him face to face. He will definitely change your Life!

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Weight Loss Journey – bad bad week…

Published October 28, 2010 by Mary Jane

Anyways, how’s everyone going? I’ve got a day off today which is great but it’s also a day for my weighing with Jenny Craig and I ain’t looking forward to it as I know I would have gained some Kgs. It’s been a really bad week for me after coming back from the holidays, I’m still in this eating mood and ofcourse as you guys know I pigged out on Tuesday when I gave myself that day off and ate some pizza and garlic bread. Last night I also snacked heaps cos I was really hungry and Monday I also ate out. So when I went through my freezer to find out how many meals I’ve got left I was shocked to find out I still had 4 dinner meals left in the freezer along with 3 lunch meals. How did that happen???

Anyways, it was time to face the reality I had a new consultant today – she was very nice. I must admit all the consultants I’ve had from Jenny Craig they are all really nice and skinny I must add. It must be a selection criteria to work as a consultant at Jenny Craig – skinny and nice. So I had a brief chat with my consultant and told her the bad news that I’ve still got quite a lot of left over meals which means either I have skipped some meals or I have ate out. She didn’t tell me off instead she asked what happened this week. I sort of said to her I had a stressful week at work cos I thought I nearly lost 3 months of data that I was working on and also been feeling really tired with this hayfever going on. Really, I was giving myself excuses – maybe I decided I’ve had enough of eating Jenny Craig’s food. She was really encouraging and told me that we all go through bad weeks, it just mean you start your next week fresh and hopefully you’ll be back on the right track again.

So here’s some of the food I’ve been eating with Jenny Craig…

My favourite is the chocolate mousse it’s delicious and considered it came in the powder form and all you need to do is add some milk and whip it up with the chocolate mousse powder and keep it refrigerated for 10 minutes and it’s ready for eating 🙂 I must admit I didn’t really like the chilli con carne..must be the lentil stuff, I was never into lentil stuff and I prefer my meat! I love meat! But I guess the taste and flavour was ok. So I hopped on to the scale and yes, I have gained 0.8kg for the week 😦 but I sort of expected it considered I’ve been eating out and snacking and my gym routine was only for 2 days so ofcourse I was going to gain some weight back.

Actually, I was starting to think whether I should give up on Jenny Craig soon as I find myself struggling to stick to its meal plans but then I thought to myself well, without Jenny Craig’s portion control meals I’ll probably gained a lot more it’s back to sticking to Jenny Craig’s meals until I reach my 1/2 goal weight loss mark of 10kg then I’ll go on my own preparing my own meals. So yeah, starting from today it’s back to strict Jenny Craig meals…

A day for myself…

Published October 26, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello Bloggy friends, hope this post finds you all well. I had a day off work today – yay 🙂 so in the morning I got woken up by Pandabear who needs to go to work. Next time I shall remind him to let me sleep in cos it was only 7am in the morning and I’m already awake! Anyways, I roam around in bed for a little while refusing to get up as I had an appointment around 10am to see my massage girl – Kat. I’ve been feeling rather tense lately as I nearly had a heart attack from work yesterday thinking I’ve lost 3 months of data work that I was working on. Thankfully all is well, I have found the master spreadsheet and didn’t have to kill my work colleague..hehehehe..

So I went for my massage appointment and decided today will be the day that’s for myself and I want this day to be different and spontaneous. Don’t ask me why, I get moments like this and it’s very rare that I would go off and do random things. After a 45min of intense acupuncture, torturing, screaming from pain I felt relaxed and my muscles are now tender again…so off I went and came across this cinema..mmm.. I’ve always wanted to watch Eat, Pray, Love by Julia Roberts so I thought to myself today maybe the day. But then I’ll have to watch the movie by myself how boring, I’ve never watched a movie in the cinema by myself. Then something made me walk into the cinema to check out the time. Wow, it’s screening in about 15-20 min time around 11.30am and it goes till 2pm. The next one won’t be till 2.30pm but the responsible me kicked him and reminded me that I need to go to the post office to post my little niece’s birthday pressie. So I went to the counter and asked how much is the ticket? The nice guy said $9.50 special today! Wow, that’s cheap and I even bought a bottle of water with it. Okies, one ticket to Eat, Pray, Love and I even commented this is my first time watching a movie on my own. The nice guy replied “Well, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it there’s no one to disturb you…”

So I walked into cinema 5 where there’s nobody…ofcourse it’s Tuesday and 11.30am who would watch a movie at this time..except for me…ha! I get to choose my own spot, let my hair down, took my shoes off and it felt as if I own the whole cinema to myself. It did get eerie at times when I heard funny noises but eventually when the movie started screening everything was honky dory!

Wow, I can’t believe I’m watching a movie by myself and there’s nobody around me…and can I just say the whole movie was fantastic, I love Julia Roberts she’s such a natural actress and 1/2 way through the movie I was busting thanks to my bottle of water so I grabbed my handbag and went straight for the bathroom and ran back hoping that I haven’t missed anything. Honestly, by about 1pm I was starving I remembered I didn’t have any lunch so thinking whether I should quickly duck out and grab some popcorns but found a mandarin in my hand bag and started peeling the mandarins and munching on it. It was fantastic! I laughed out loud, cried, clapped, jumped and danced through out the whole movie and wow, it’s great watching a movie all by yourself where you can express your emotions without worrying about people giving you weird stares… I give the movie 9.5 out of 10. The 0.5 point lost goes to the movie been too long, I was still hungry after my mandarin.

So after finishing the movies I know it’s time to go to the post office and on my way there I came across this Italian joint…mmm..that reminds me when Julia Roberts were in Italy she had this huge whole pizza. I felt like pizza and guess what? You guess right I went into the restaurant and sat myself down. Once again, I’ve never eaten alone in a restaurant by myself – I rather grab a takeaway then eating alone in a restaurant and looks like a loner. But, oh well I’m hungry and I wonder what’s it like eating alone in a restaurant. The nice waitress handed me a menu and I said to her what’s your special for your pizza she pointed to Tono Special Pizza – I shall have that. They had an open kitchen so I could see the chef running around by himself making pizza and pastas. Wow, he didn’t have any helpers but then again it was a tiny family restaurant. My tummy started grumbling so I decided to order some garlic bread while waiting for the pizza and for drinks. Usually I go for lemon lime bitters but I saw Chinotto – I’ll try the citrus drink 🙂

The pizza and garlic bread both ended up arriving on my table at the same time, I was starting to regret from being greedy ordering the garlic bread but oh man, can I just tell you how delicious the garlic bread was and the pizza was so tasty I scoffed them down using my fingers. I think the waitress is probably thinking this girl looks like she hasn’t eaten for a few days. It was delicious and I didn’t feel guilty eating it even though I was suppose to be on a Jenny Craig diet but I really wanted to have pizza today 🙂 Ofcourse I couldn’t finish it all so I took them home for supper later…

So carrying a box of left over pizzas and some garlic bread I make my way to the post office to post my niece’s birthday present and I even found the cute princess post bag to put the pressie in very happy as not all post office sells these type of bags. So feeling pretty happy while I was queuing up spotted some teddy bears lying in a box…aww…they looked so cute..and yes as most of you guys know I love soft toys even though I have few hundreds of them already…the brown one was staring at me “buy me, I’m ready to come home with you” or was it my own little voice in my head?? Anyways, the temptation was too great and since Pandabear wasn’t next to me to stop me from buying I bought the brown and fluffy teddy home and named him “Cuddly”

Oh I’m so happy that I get to take Cuddly home, he’s now next to me watching me blogging…and oh on my way back I saw the large purse bag sitting on the floor hey…I remember I made Pandabear took a picture of me sitting on top of it during our honey moon…wow some years ago it’s still there. So I took a picture of it…this time not with me on it but some random guy sitting on it…

As crazy as it might sounds I had an awesome day and I should do it more often, wasted a few hours in the cinema which is not usually something I would do and dine in a random restaurant eating alone – as I don’t like to waste time and I need to be constantly doing things and everything I do must be planned…so today was the complete opposite. I love it 🙂 it’s great for the soul and just what I needed to boost my happy cells….I would recommend this to everyone out there who needs a day out for yourself whether it’s too pamper yourself, treat yourself, get away from madness, doing something random anyways it’s what I would call it “a day for myself”

Jamie’s Cook Book Challenge – Tea-party fairy cakes

Published October 24, 2010 by Mary Jane

Anyways, I managed to bake my last Jamie’s cook book challenge before I went on a holiday. I’m kinda stuck in the dessert section as now that I’m on Jenny Craig food it’s a little hard to complete the savoury section of Jamie’s cook book as now I only cook for Pandabear but he’s not a type of guy who loves to try new food so it makes it hard. But with desserts I can bring the baked products to the church and offer it as a morning tea – so it works out well. 🙂

So I came across this recipe of tea-party fairy cakes – the photos looks amazing and I’ve baked a few cupcakes in the past but not the fairy cupcakes ones. So I checked out my pantry on one of the nights and found out I didn’t have any fresh berries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to make the fairy cupcakes so I decided to change the recipe slightly (sorry Jamie) and substitute them with some pistachio nuts I have and top them with chocolate icing. I also had some almond flakes left in my pantry so I used them as decorations. So here it is…



This tea-party fair cup cakes recipe were made using the sponge recipe for the victoria sponge and I realised that I didn’t have the right cup cake muffin tin tray (the usual 6 muffin try tin) but I have a 4 by 6 mini cup cake muffin trays which I borrowed from my sister in law. Doh! That means I’ll have to make them into tiny cup cakes and it means I’ll have to watch out for them as they bake since they are roughly half the size from the recipe. I was thinking at this stage my cup cakes might not turn out as I might overcook them and they’ll turn out dry and nasty. Anyways, I decided to take that risk…

When I pulled out my fairy cup cakes out of the oven, they looked ok a little crumbly on the top so I had to manually trim them as some of the cup cakes were over flowing and the top side kinda makes the whole cup cakes looks lop sided so I decided to manually trim their tops hehehehe….anyways, since I didn’t have any of the fresh berries, my plans were to make the chocolate icing and drizzle them on top of the cup cakes and sprinkle some crushed pistachio nuts and poke an almond flakes on top as my decorations. The drizzling of chocolate icing were quite challenging as my cup cakes were quite tiny in size so I had to make sure the icing weren’t overflowing and making my table top very messy. But eventually I got there and finished decorating my pistachio nuts chocolate icing fairy cup cakes 🙂

When Pandabear got home that night I demand that he try one of my tea-party fairy cup cakes to make sure that they are edible for me to bring to Church on Sunday. He tried one and said it taste ok, just a little dry…but it’s edible. That was good enough for me..I knew it was going to be a little dry as I didn’t have the right size cup cake tin tray for the recipe and I might have over baked it too…so all in all it was great, I was happy my tea-party fairy cup cakes were all gone and all I have left with was my tiny empty cup cakes tray 🙂

Cook book challenge success? Sort of…