Like all of us, Therese had a lot more time to fill during the lockdowns, not just to get more acquainted with her ever-growing collection of cookbooks, but also to reevaluate the path she was on.
“I just thought to myself… is being an analyst something I want to do for the rest of my life?” Therese told 10 play.
“I knew that food was my passion and I really had nothing to lose,” she added, “so if I don’t give it a try now, when will the next time be?”
A self-taught baker, Therese said being stuck at home gave her the perfect opportunity to read and cook from her cookbooks, and finally began to dabble in experimenting with her baking.
“I’ve always been a baker, but I think it just really ramped up last year because I had more time at home. I’ve always done cakes for my friends and family, but I never really did the more theatrical stuff. I thought I’d give it a try and went from there!”
Through her experimenting, Therese also began to fall in love with how people would respond to the dishes she was serving up.
“I’m always chasing that moment where I give a dessert to someone and their eyes just light up,” she said. “When they have a taste of it and their whole world lights up. It’s that moment for me that lights me up.
“It’s the last course you eat. It’s the last chance to make a lasting impression.”
With her audition for the MasterChef judges, Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, Therese hoped to elicit that exact response from them, as well as showing the judges who she is as a baker in one single dish.
“I built my confidence starting with the basics, like the basics of French pastry, I think that’s the heart and foundation of doing a really good dessert,” Therese said.
“Once I built my confidence, I started experimenting with different flavours… and different shapes. I really like making desserts that don’t taste like what it seems and doesn’t look like what it seems. That’s when I get so inspired.
“So why not make it theatrical and have some fun, put some smoke into it… that’s how I express myself.”
It’s no surprise Therese credits other inventive dessert geniuses as some of her inspirations, like Heston Blumenthal, Cédric Goulet, Will Goldfarb and MasterChef alum Reynold Poernomo.
“Since the first season I've always been a MasterChef fan,” Therese added. “I only watch TV just to watch MasterChef!’
Having watched years of the show, Therese said walking in and cooking for the judges in the hopes of securing an apron was an “out-of-the-world” experience.
“I was not calm,” she said, laughing. “It was so surreal! I was a ball of nerves but you just gotta really channel those nerves into being really focused and like, no… I can do this! I’m going to smash it out. I love cooking so I’ll have fun. That’s the headspace I had the whole time.”
Find out if Therese has what it takes to earn herself an apron when MasterChef Australia Season 13 premieres on Monday, 19 April at 7.30 on 10 and 10 play.