MasterChef Australia: Fans and Favourites is back, and this season, the competition is fierce like never before.
This season, our hopeful home cooks are not only up against one another, they’re up against some of the biggest names in the Australian hospitality industry. With 12 previous MasterChef Australia competitors, including past winners Julie Goodwin, Sashi Cheliah and Billie McKay, there’s never been more pressure to perform.
Melanie Persson believes she has what it takes to go all the way to the end.
Five years ago, Persson was diagnosed with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten. Now, she’s on a mission to prove that you can cook gluten-free food that doesn’t compromise on flavour, and dreams that one day she’ll be able to publish her own gluten-free cookbook.
Outside of her MasterChef Australia dreams, Persson is a PhD student, studying children’s literature at Deakin University.
“My research is something I’m very passionate about and I was absolutely honoured to be awarded a scholarship to pursue it, so putting it on hold to be on MasterChef was a big decision,” Persson told The Latch in a Q&A. “Ultimately though, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I really didn’t want to miss out on, so I don’t regret that at all.”
Persson has loved cooking since she was a child and says her taste has been influenced by her experiences in Japan and Italy.
When it comes to her biggest influences in the kitchen, Persson cites Massimo Bottura, Adam Liaw, Matt Adlard, Marion Grasby and Rick Stein as the most influential for her.
Describing herself as “outgoing, friendly and resilient“, when Persson isn’t studying —or appearing on MasterChef — you’d most likely find her playing or watching sports, or hanging out with her dogs.
“I love sports (playing and watching), particularly AFL, netball, tennis, and snow sports,” she said, adding: “I also really enjoy board games!”
Will Persson be able to go the distance? Only time will tell. Until then…
MasterChef Australia airs at 7.30pm Sunday-Thursdays, only on 10 and 10 Play on Demand.
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