Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal

Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal

Age: 39

State: NSW

Occupation: Board Game Designer

With easily the most infectious smile in the MasterChef Australia kitchen, Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal will bring not only Latin American flavours, but a healthy dose of fun.

Born in Argentina, Juan De La Cruz is one of nine children and as the seventh son of the family (two sisters followed), is considered special in Argentinian culture. As tradition has it, the seventh son automatically becomes the President’s godson which, in mythology, was to save him from being turned into a werewolf.

Incredibly close to his family, Juan speaks with them every day, despite them all being based in Argentina. His mother Cristina remains a huge inspiration for him in the kitchen, having cooked four meals a day for 11 people for many years. She taught Juan the power of good food not only to nourish, but as a salve for bad situations.

Bad asthma kept Juan indoors as a kid, but he became Mum’s official taster, developing his palette from an early age. His Dad Alejandro and his uncle then taught him the art of asado. Sadly, his father passed away in 2022, but Juan will be forever grateful that he was able to cook him a final traditional Argentinian dish of humita.

With food heroes including Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann and, locally, Miguel Maestre who has inspired him to embrace his culture, Juan can’t wait to showcase his favourite Argentinian dishes for the judges.

Work on his travel television program saw Juan make the move to New Zealand, before settling in Sydney in 2014, where he now lives with girlfriend, Amy. Tapping into his background in marketing, in 2022 Juan poured his creativity into the launch of his very own boardgame, titled Blended. It brings together all the best bits of various games, and takes him back to happy childhood times, playing board games with siblings.

Outside the kitchen, music and singing are another huge passion for Juan, and this former Popstars Argentina contender will bring his trademark bright and bubbly energy to MasterChef Australia, ready to let his creativity take over as he shares his unique recipes.