In a season boasting some of the best cooks ever to step into the MasterChef kitchen, Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong, and Andy Allen have selected this year’s Top 24 contestants.
From medical students to analysts, foodies have felt the draw to follow their dreams and give everything they have to the competition. Meet the Top 24:
Aaron, 34, SA
Born and raised in Adelaide, Aaron has a love for native ingredients, herbs, and spices which he uses in his savoury dishes. His love of fishing also comes through in his skills with seafood, but it’s his signature crispy skin pork belly that’ll really have mouths watering.
Aaron’s food dream is to one day open a dinner party restaurant featuring a backyard garden cafe, teaching others and sharing in the passion he has for food.
Amir, 30, VIC
During lockdown, Amir was inspired by his love of MasterChef to challenge his mates, turning their regular Zoom calls into a Mystery Box cook-off. With all that practice behind him, he should be more than comfortable when it comes time to his first Mystery Box in the actual MasterChef kitchen.
Amir’s love of cooking started way back when he was just four-years-old, cooking alongside his parents. It wasn’t long until he was making the school lunches for himself and his sisters. With a love of Middle Eastern flavours, Amir hopes to one day open a cooking school for men that pairs his passion for food with a focus on mental health.
Brent, 31, QLD
Lovable tradie Brent says he first started cooking when he was in a sharehouse with flatmates who refused to turn on the oven. From there, his creativity with basic ingredients soon turned into a fully-fledged master of flavour.
Brent hopes to one day be able to travel around the country in a campervan, teaching how to make quick and easy meals and inspiring others to find the passion of food he’s developed over the years.
Conor, 27, VIC
Having spent the last 10 years working in restaurants in the front-of-house, now Conor is discovering the kitchen is where his heart belongs. With his love of traditional Greek cuisine, Conor merges the techniques with ingredients and flavours he picked up during his travels across the globe.
With eclectic dishes, Conor hopes to one day open a sandwich deli named Sit Down Dora after his mum and a hidden bar named Shut Up Mike after his dad.
Dan, 31, NSW
When Dan moved out of home he had to begin cooking out of necessity, but his time in the kitchen soon turned into a passion as he continued to build his techniques and skills. With his mum’s Guangzhou background, Dan’s Chinese-inspired dishes always have a little signature flair to them that really make them his own.
From earning his PhD in 2018 to celebrating his marriage in 2020, Dan now adds one more thing to his list of achievements as he enters the toughest competition yet.
Depinder, 29, NSW
For some, the MasterChef kitchen is a personal Everest. For Depinder that should be no problem, having completed the Everest Base Camp trek on her last holiday. Born in New Delhi, Depinder moved to New South Wales when she was 11-years-old.
A self-taught baker with a passion for pastry and desserts, Depinder also inherited her father’s passion from cooking, and learned many traditional recipes from her mum, Depinder is inspired by Indian and South East Asian flavours and hopes to one day write a cookbook that shows her love of fusion cuisine.
Elise, 28, VIC
Hoping to one day own a farm-to-table restaurant on a sustainable property, Elise’s love of cooking for large groups will hopefully see her go far in the competition.
With her Italian and Sri Lankan heritage, Elise is constantly inspired by food and admits she could “die happy” if she ever met food idol, Nigella Lawson.
Eric, 21, NSW
Eric is no stranger to the world of MasterChef auditions, auditioning at the ripe old age of 10 for Junior MasterChef a decade ago. While he didn’t quite make the cut back then, Eric is ready to join the big leagues and dive into the competition.
Eric’s passion for regional Chinese cuisine is so strong that the day he auditioned for the judges was actually also the day of his final clinical exam. Making the decision to defer his studies may have paid off for the medical student who is now one step closer to his dream of opening a pop-up restaurant that introduces the Chinese dishes he loves to wider Australia.
Jess, 36, NSW
Describing her cooking as “explorative, creative and generous”, Jess’ background as a landscape architect and urban designer has inspired her to create playful dishes with bold flavours from cuisines all over the world.
Jess also believes in learning sustainable landscape and food practices from Australia’s First Nations peoples and hopes to one day travel around the country with her wife and twins, learning as much about the native food, eventually owning a property where she’ll sustainably grow her own produce and run a cafe or restaurant.
Justin, 27, WA
Though some of Justin’s culinary inspirations include names like Gordon Ramsay and Gaggan Anand, it’s his mum who he cites as the best cook he knows. Having cooked from an early age, Justin was always inspired by seasonal produce and traditional Indian flavours that he grew up eating.
As a youth pastor, Justin has worked to create safe environments for teens and hopes that one day, his love of food will see him open a restaurant or food truck where proceeds of his sales could go to supporting children living in the slums of India.
Katrina, 25, VIC
Born and raised on a berry farm, Katrina was selling homemade cakes from the farm gate shop when she was just five-years-old. At 10, she was regularly pitching in and making the family dinners. Now, with a passion for food education, Katrina’s cooking is centred around a paddock-to-plate ethos.
With her Indonesian grandma teaching her the joys of different flavours and her Australian grandma teaching her classic foundation recipes, Katrina’s hoping her range of skills and cuisine diversity will see her go all the way in the competition.
Kishwar, 38, VIC
Mum of two Kishwar was inspired to sign up for MasterChef at the behest of her son, who urged her to follow her dreams. Born and raised in Melbourne by Bangladeshi parents, Kishwar is proud of the traditional Bengali flavours and recipes handed down by her parents.
Hoping to inspire her children, and introduce Aussies to some of those traditional dishes she loves, Kishwar’s food dream is to write a cookbook full of the recipes that have been handed down to her by her family.
Linda, 38, NSW
Getting stuck into the kitchen alongside her grandma before she was even five-years-old, Linda has been cooking for as long as she can remember. Constantly learning from her parents and aunties, family are never far from Linda’s mind - using her grandma’s cake tins still to this day.
Inspired by the heritage of her parents, her Laotian mum and Chinese-Cambodian dad, Linda’s grown up embracing South East Asian food and hopes to one day open a food truck that embraces those flavours, offering up bento boxes that give people a taste of multiple dishes at once.
Maja, 33, WA
Though she grew up on a hobby farm in Tasmania, Maja’s influences are traced back to her parent’s home in Germany. Learning from her Oma from an early age, Maja has grown up with fond memories of cooking alongside her grandmother and parents, and her love of food has only grown with her.
Having already realised her food dream, Maja was the owner of a pop-up market stall that specialised in boutique seafood sausages. Now entering the MasterChef kitchen, Maja hopes to one day convert a vintage Airstream trailer into a pop-up dining experience.
Minoli, 34, NT
Sri Lankan-born Minoli has spent her life growing up in the kitchen, learning traditional recipes from her, Minoli also became fascinated with her mum’s ability to transform seasonal fruits and veg into incredible dishes.
Moving to Melbourne with her family when she was six, Minoli continued to cook the recipes she was taught by her mum and when she later settled in Darwin, fell in love with the tropical climate and fresh produce available in the NT. Minoli hopes to open her own pop-up restaurant with a focus on Sri Lankan fusion cuisine.
Pete, 36, NSW
Tattoo artist Pete is hoping to show off a different kind of artistry when he enters the MasterChef kitchen. Self-taught, Pete has a love of classic cuisines and, through his extensive travels, has sampled fine dining restaurants across the globe with his wife and daughters.
Hoping to one day open a wine bar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Pete’s ready to take on every challenge the judges will throw his way.
Sabina, 21, TAS
Sabina has grown up with MasterChef in her life. When she was eight she watched Julie Goodwin take the title as the very first MasterChef winner. Walking into the kitchen with Julie’s signature in her vintage copy of MasterChef Australia The Cookbook Volume One, Sabina added three more signatures as she was signed into the competition herself.
With a passion for meat and seafood, Sabina hopes to one day own her own restaurant in her home of Tasmania where she’ll be able to highlight sea to table cuisine of her own.
Scott, 40, QLD
Scott is a self-confessed food nerd, and the proof is in the pudding (no pun intended). With an impressive collection of almost 350 cookbooks and 100 food magazines, Scott loves the way you can communicate through food.
With food always at the centre of his childhood, Scott has grown up ready to tackle any culinary challenge that comes his way, even making the cake for his sister’s wedding - and then making 12 additional cakes; one for every table, of course. Hoping to one day open a cooking school and patisserie, Scott hopes to live out his food dream of combining his passions; food, design and education.
Therese, 31, NSW
Though she’s always loved cooking, Therese has only recently begun to flex her creative muscles in the kitchen, creating stunning desserts that are not only visually impressive but ridiculously delicious.
While she wowed the judges with her magical audition dish, Therese also wants to bring her Taiwanese and Burmese heritage to the table with savoury flavours and hopes to one day start a line of pre-packaged dessert boxes and Asian-fusion noodle sauces.
Tom, 24, NSW
Tom has been in the kitchen since he was six-years-old. Learning to BBQ and fish from his dad, and inspired to cook by his mum and older sister, Tom has grown up learning to finesse his skills in the art of intricate desserts, hoping to one day build his reputation as a renowned pastry chef.
Inspired by his grandmother, who came to Australia from India, Tom’s also got an interest in Indian cuisine, but his travels across the world have introduced him to many food cultures he takes inspiration from.
Tommy, 31, NSW
Tommy’s audition dish may have won the judges over, but it was his emotional call to his mum that got the rest of us on the verge of tears. Inspired by his mum’s home-cooked meals, citing her as the best cook in the world, Tommy celebrates his Vietnamese heritage by recreating the recipes she taught him.
While he’s heading into the MasterChef kitchen, Tommy hopes to one day combine his loves of food and travel, documenting food cultures from across the globe and sharing them with the world.
Trent, 23, VIC
Much like his cooking, Trent’s vibrant and fun approach to the competition is going to be one to watch. Taking inspiration from fantastical elements and nature, Trent’s signature tarts and cakes are sure to be showstoppers.
Hoping to one day write a column for a food magazine, Trent’s creative approach to sweets will be paired with the foundations of cooking he learned from his mum growing up.
Wynona, 27, NSW
This isn’t Wynona’s first shot at getting into the MasterChef kitchen, having applied two years ago she may not have been successful then but it did give her the push to begin her own food blog.
Now, proudly part of the Top 24, Wynona is ready to show off the skills she’s learned through the years and her extensive travels across Europe.
YoYo, 19, SA
This year’s youngest competitor, Yonina - aka YoYo - isn’t going to let her age get in the way of her reaching the MasterChef finale. YoYo grew up learning the basics from her parents, spaghetti marinara from her dad and sweets and desserts from her mum, and her grandparents taught her how to wrap dumplings and make scallion pancakes.
Not only is YoYo skilled in the kitchen, but she’s mastering six instruments (and hopes to add two more to her repertoire) and is a second-year medical student, so there’s nothing she can’t accomplish once she sets her mind to something.
Watch the new season of MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on 10 or watch on demand on 10 play