‘It was a wonderful way to come home’: Mindy Woods still smiles after pressure test from Kirsten Tibballs

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A ray of sunshine throughout the competition, Mindy refused to let what would be her final challenge in the Chef the kitchen takes her down. When Kirsten revealed her “Cherry on Top” dessert, there was a very different vibe from the usual pressure test.

“I’m excited about this stuff, you know?” Mindy told 10 Pieces, “I love challenging myself, and for Kirsten to come in, I knew it would be something I’d never done before…and probably never will again,” she said. she said, bursting out laughing.

“It was just one of those times where I thought, this is such an exciting time. And standing next to these powerful women was just that boost. I felt like a wonderful woman standing up there. “, she added.

Mindy had made a pact with Billie and Julie that on D-Day, the kitchen would be a place of celebration rather than panic.

“I just said, if this is going to be our last cook, let’s give it our all. Let’s get through it and make sure everyone has a chance to shine,” Mindy added.

“There was definitely no fear. I just thought, god, I’m not a dessert queen, I just want to give it my all.”

Given 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the dessert, at the end of the challenge, Mindy looked back in awe at what she was able to accomplish.

“We needed every minute in this challenge but, my god, I was so proud I just couldn’t believe we managed to pull it off,” she added.

While her dish was visually similar to the original, Mindy’s cherry jelly was slightly grainy and the balance of flavors just wasn’t as close as Billie’s or Julie’s version. But the minor mistakes weren’t enough to dampen Mindy’s spirit, as she was completely overjoyed with what she was able to serve up to the judges.

When the verdict was revealed, and its time in the Chef the kitchen was ending, she was still beaming with pride.

“It was such a wonderful way to come home, if there is such a thing. I just felt like I got the most out of every experience.”

Returning to the Chef cooking, proud Bundalung woman Widjabul Wia Bul said one of the fundamental reasons she wanted to return to the competition was to continue to connect the wider Australian public to Indigenous culture through food.

“I feel like it’s such a privilege to do this,” Mindy added. “As Australians, we struggle to think we have a food culture or identity. The fact is, this is a 60,000 year old story and we are just beginning to embrace it. and exploit it.

“It’s an exciting world to be a part of right now because we’re really open-minded. We have open hearts, bringing these ingredients into our own kitchens, restaurants and cafes. I’d love to see them in homes. daily.

“An opportunity to bring a lot of these ancient ingredients into a modern world, and just to show that they have applications in modern cooking, it’s amazing.”

Although she was proud of the dishes she served throughout the competition, Mindy had hoped to share a bit more of the story behind the indigenous ingredients she likes to showcase in her food.

“The challenges are so fast and furious that you don’t often get to share more of the story around them,” she explained. “It’s such a shame because there’s so much to add when it comes to these amazing ingredients.

“They’re connected to history, country and culture and there’s something so special about it, and it’s something all Australians can embrace,” Mindy said.

“I hope I’ve at least sparked some curiosity around the indigenous ingredients, and that people come out and start tasting them and cooking with them at home because, my God, they’re so much more than food. food. They are part of the fabric of Australia.”

Back on Bundjalung land and her Byron Bay home, Mindy took the creativity and inspiration from the Chef kitchen and brought it with her to her restaurant, Karkalla.

“The gift of Chef was really reigniting that creativity for me, so we revamped our menu, and you’ll see a lot of what was featured on the show coming to my own menu, which is exciting for people to come and try and taste.” , she said.

“And I’m hosting some of the other candidates with pop-ups in the future! They’ve all reached out and want to come to Byron Bay – I mean, who doesn’t want to come to Byron,” she laughed.

“I have a nice little restaurant and I said, if you really want a taste of the hospitality industry… come and do a Karkalla takeover, so there will be a bit of that in the future.”

Looking back on her time in the competition, Mindy said this time around she made a bond that will last a lifetime.

“It just comes from a deep love and respect for each other and food – and the history and culture that we all bring to food, which is so different.

“And the fact that Australia is this amazing multicultural country and that we can embrace all of that is so special. It’s been a real gift.”

MasterChef Australia Fans and Favorites broadcast Sunday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on 10 and 10 reading on demand

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