Cuisine Corner

MasterChef Contestants Display Their French Style

Our demonstration kitchen at the Cuisine Corner of the main Ile de France marketplace area of the Sunshine Coast French Festival is sure to be well attended with four special guests – popular MasterChef Contestants 2017 – Pia Gava, Bryan Zhu, Callan Smith and Michelle Lukman.

Demonstration dishes include:
‘Yuzu Mont Blanc’ – Bryan (Saturday 11:30 am)
‘Macarons – using Olive Oil flavour!’ -Callan (Saturday 3:00 pm)
‘Raspberry Brulee Dome’ -Michelle (Saturday 6:00 pm)
‘Choux au Craquelin’ -Pia (Sunday 10:30 am)
‘Petite Fours’ – Team Challenge (Sunday 1:00 pm)

(Bios courtesy of MasterChef)

Pia Gava

MasterChefGrowing up in a typical Italian home, Pia’s family celebrated every occasion in great culinary style and she says the smells of her childhood linger to this day. There was always a pasta sauce on the boil and rows of fresh pasta hanging in the kitchen.

The family would routinely sit down for big family dinners, a tradition that Pia has maintained with her own family, husband Tony and children Daniel and Alyssa.

Following university, Pia worked as a gym manager and swimming school director for 10 years before further studying writing and proofreading, with the dream of one day writing her own series of children’s books. She now works for the CSIRO as a contracts officer.

Pia says her strength in the MasterChef Australia kitchen will not only be her Italian food background, but also her skill at replicating restaurant dishes by taste. Often she will eat out with her family and be so impressed by a dish that she will list the ingredients and the method used to create it.

A lover of travel, Pia trekked through Italy, Greece, Israel, France, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong to experience their cuisines. Pia is inspired by Rick Stein, Stefano Di Pieri, Jacques Reymond and Massimo Bottura.

Pia dreams of putting together her closely-guarded family recipes, handed down from generation to generation, in a cookbook so her own children can one day enjoy it. Together with her husband Tony she would like to open her own food and wine bar and would like to host pasta degustation pop-up dinners.

Bryan Zhu

MasterChef

Born and raised in Sydney, Bryan says food was a big focus for the family growing up, with celebrations like birthdays and Chinese New Year requiring days of food preparation. Working front of house as a cashier and waiter at his parent’s tuckshop in Mascot, Bryan now dreams of stepping behind the bench to create his own culinary dream.

At school, Bryan excelled in creative arts including drawing and painting. He loved fashion and photography, and he employs his strong creative streak in the kitchen, creating extravagant and decorative desserts to impress.

Bryan completed a commerce degree, but he has been drawn back to his love of the arts and now owns his own photography business, shooting weddings, parties and events.

When he is not shooting weddings, he is thinking about wedding cakes and all things sweet. Bryan says cooking has always been his relief from the daily stresses of life and he loves the creative side of making desserts. He says he likes to look at a plate like a blank canvas, with colour and flavours bursting out.

Away from the kitchen, Bryan loves to travel, taking the car on road trips and exploring the world through photography.

Citing Janice Wong, Martin Benn, Zachary Tan and Anna Polyviou as his food idols, Bryan hopes to gain experience working in a dessert bar or alongside a pastry chef following his MasterChef Australia journey.

Callan Smith

MasterChefAlthough he might be MasterChef Australia’s youngest recruit, Callan’s talent should not be underestimated. Few other 18-year-olds dream of one day opening their own five-star molecular gastronomic restaurant.

Cooking since he was five, Callan’s first kitchen experience was not a raging success: he attempted a birthday cake without a recipe and while the result was not a triumph, he has since developed his skills and rarely receives complaints.

Born and raised in Sydney, Callan grew up with his parents and younger sister. His family own a bottle shop and wine bar, and Callan says he has been cooking meals for his family as long as he can remember.

School was sometimes a challenging time and Callan always sought refuge in the kitchen, baking and expressing himself through food. With a passion for combining science with normal everyday cooking, Callan would throw together unusual ingredients and routinely attempt dishes to improve and constantly excel in the kitchen. Completing his HSC exams on the eve of the MasterChef Australia judges’ auditions, Callan says he wanted a place in the Top 24 more than anything else.

Inspired by fresh, modern Asian food, Callan lists Kylie Kwong and Neil Perry as those he admires in the kitchen. He also loves to watch and follow Martin Boetz and Dan Hong, with his all-time favourite food hero being Heston Blumenthal.

Outside of cooking and spending time with his family and friends, Callan volunteers in the theatre and film industry, and has studied acting and musical theatre at his performing arts high school.

Michelle Lukman

MasterChef

One of MasterChef Australia’s youngest contestants, Michelle is vying for the title of dessert queen, after wowing the judges at auditions with her golden chocolate ball.

Born in Bandung, Indonesia, Michelle was just 11 when together with her parents and younger sister Maureen, she relocated to Melbourne to be with her great-grandmother. Settling in Box Hill, Michelle excelled in high school, describing herself as a diligent, dedicated and hard-working student.

After graduating, Michelle commenced a Nutrition and Food Technology degree.

Growing up, Michelle loved to watch her grandmother and mother cooking traditional Indonesian food in the kitchen, but her real cooking love has developed as she has uncovered her sweet tooth.

Passionate about health and fitness, Michelle hits the gym most days and does well not to overindulge on her own beautiful desserts and sweets. Her dream is to one day open a dessert bar and café that she hopes to name Mishpattiserie.

Shy at times, this quietly competitive cook is a force in the kitchen. She excels at multi-tasking and technique. Michelle loves to make extravagant layer cakes and work with different types of chocolate to make sweets and desserts for family and friends. Largely self-taught through YouTube videos, Michelle says she is inspired by chocolate queen Kirsten Tibballs. She also admires the work of Adriano Zumbo, and loves watching Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal.

Michelle says one of her greatest food moments to date is creating an eight-tier cake for her cousin’s 21st birthday.

Michelle is very close to her family and loves to eat out at Melbourne’s cafes and restaurants. She also loves to play futsal with friends, head to the gym and compose music on the piano.