Amir Manoly may have been eliminated from MasterChef Australia, but his mission to empower men through food is just beginning.
The aspiring chef from Victoria has launched a business called Mister Collective which was designed to educate, inspire and collaborate with the men of Australia to build healthy bodies and minds. Through cooking classes, corporate events, workshops and community connections the project aims to encourage men to have fun in the kitchen, whilst breaking the stigma surrounding dealing with mental health challenges.
“Last year, especially being in lockdown in Melbourne, my priorities definitely shifted,” Manoly told The Latch following his elimination. “My prior priorities realigned and I was focusing more on family and my health and cooking was sort of the catalyst for all that.
“I remember running Zoom cooking classes with my mates, doing sort of mystery boxes and seeing the joy that not only brought me, but them as well was really inspiring. And that’s where I came up with this idea where I wanted to use food as a conversation starter for mental health, especially in men.”
Manoly revealed that judges Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo — both of whom have been open about their struggles with depression and addiction, respectively — have been inspiring when it comes to his new venture.
“They’re definitely very inspiring those two,” he said. “It’s people like that — that you see in the limelight, and you look at them, and you go: ‘Oh, they’ve got a great life, they’ve got a great job.’ But, it’s people like that, who show it’s not always the case. And they are the people that I want to appeal to through this business.
“They’ve definitely been a great help on this next journey.”
On the topic of the judges — who always seem to pop up during the most inopportune times of the contestant’s cooks — Manoly assured us that their input is always appreciated.
“They always seem to pop up in your bench when something’s burning or something’s not going right,” he laughed.
“But you know what? It may seem a little bit annoying in the moment, but they always have really good feedback. So it’s always welcomed, whether or not it looks like that on TV.”
So, who does this talented chef and mental health warrior think will take home the grand prize on MasterChef Australia 2021?
“Probably Depinder or Pete,” he said. “They are smashing it — they’re worlds apart in what kind of cooks they are. Pete is more fine dining and really creative with his dishes and Depinder is just a powerhouse when it comes to flavour.
“So those two are definitely the front runners in my eyes.”