Airing back in 2010, Season 1 of Junior MasterChef Australia starred Jack Lark and twin sisters Isabella and Sofia Bliss. Then 12-years-old, Isabella went on to win the first season, with Jack placing as runner-up and Sofia alongside them in the top three.
Now, 10 years older, we found out how the show has changed their lives.
How was your overall experience on Junior MasterChef?
Isabella: It’s easy to say how awesome it was that Sofia and I could experience MasterChef together. We weren’t quite prepared for what was to come, in retrospect, especially since we both played in the top three. Being on national television was surreal already, let alone winning!
MasterChef became very present in my local community and network, which opened up a lot of opportunities for me and my family. It became a brick in the foundation of who I am today.
Jack: My life, in many ways, has been changed forever. I had many opportunities to travel internationally and interstate. Most notably, I have been to Honk Kong twice to film on a local cooking/travel show and to present at a food festival.
But I believe the pinnacle experience was meeting and going on stage with Heston Blumenthal in Sydney and getting invited to spend the day at The Fat Duck in Bray.
Sofia: The experience was really overwhelming but in a good way. For the length of a school term we were having so much fun adventuring around Sydney with a bunch of other foodies, but especially with my mum and sister. All of us knew we were part of something cool, and I would do it all over again if I could.
Have you pursued a career in food, or in the hospitality industry following MasterChef?
Isabella: Post-MasterChef ensued an international ride, stopping at all types of food events and working on many projects including a cookbook. After school, I dabbled in work in a cafe, market and patisserie with a punch of food journalism.
In late-2018 I moved to Melbourne and trained at three venues from George Calombaris’ restaurant group, focusing on desserts and larder, then moved to Italian restaurant Becco for six months. I am currently working as a Commis Chef in Brisbane while studying. Having a background in cooking meant a strong transition into the industry. It’s wonderful to be immersed in the professional art of food as an adult.
Jack: I have not, but the support and experience I received from the food and beverage industry after MasterChef was phenomenal. I had all the tools to pursue a career in food however it just wasn’t where my heart was set - which is totally okay. I am currently the distillery manager for a new distillery in Hobart called Battery Point Distillery, where we have recently released a gin called House of Lenna.
Next year I plan to move to the UK to attend the International College of Musical Theatre, and I want to spend a fair amount of time overseas. In saying that, I still thoroughly enjoy cooking and eating as a hobby. It's an incredibly valuable skill to have.
Sofia: After the show, Isabella and I travelled a lot pursuing all the extraordinary opportunities that presented themselves. Demonstrating at the Good Food and Wine Show in Cape Town, SA was a definite highlight.
Working in the food industry didn’t really interest me however my fulfilment from cooking never dulled; I still love baking and treating my friends and family to their favourite meals. For the last four years, I’ve been studying Dentistry in north Queensland, which has been an adventure of its own.
What would your advice be to this year's contestants?
Isabella: The most important thing to remember to cherish this experience with your peers and tell a cool story one day.
Jack: Remember to take time out for yourself and not let the pressure build-up. Soak up every minute. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to cook in the MasterChef kitchen, but to also spend a couple of months away from school having fun with some people who you're going to be friends with for life. I was crying the whole flight home after filming. I never wanted it to end.
From now on, your life will be different. Take advantage of it! When you get back to school, you're going to get a lot of attention. Just remember to stay humble and kind, and most importantly don't let the fame get to your head!
Sofia: In any competition, it’s important to work in the moment. Channel your competitive side and know you did your best no matter what the outcome.
Are you in contact with anyone from your season of MasterChef?
Isabella: I feel very lucky to be in touch with everyone on my season. We regularly talk in a group chat, and for a few years after the show we were having annual reunions on the Gold Coast. I think we all recognise the show as something special and still appreciate that connection today.
Jack: We are planning our 10-year reunion - COVID permitting. I'm quite often in contact with Isabella, and she's visited me down in Tassie a couple of years ago. But whenever I am travelling to a different state, I still make an effort to get in touch with the contestants from wherever I'm travelling.
Sofia: Even though we live all around Australia, we’ve managed to find time every now and then to catch up. Social media aids this well, we have a group chat where we share MasterChef memes and memories.
Junior MasterChef Australia premieres 7.30 Sunday, October 11 on 10 and 10 play