Sabina Newton may have been the youngest home cook competing on MasterChef Australia 2021, but she was also, undoubtedly, one of the most talented. The Tassie native was the latest contestant to be sent home from the reality cooking show, after participating in the first-ever dinner service at Martin Benn’s Society restaurant in Melbourne.
“It was definitely very, very daunting,” Newton told The Latch following her elimination. “I think as soon as I walked into Society, I knew that there was going to be a huge challenge.
“I think doing a service challenge by yourself is also so different to doing it in a team. Obviously, we’ve done quite a few service challenges in a team prior to that, but by yourself, it’s really hard because you just have to pull on your own strengths and not the collective of the team. But the kitchen was just out of control. Amazing. I’ve never seen a kitchen like it.
“So it was a real privilege to get to cook in his [Benn’s] restaurant. He’s an amazing chef, so it was a good way to end things, I suppose.”
At just 21 years old, Newtown showed a culinary ability well beyond her years, with Jock telling her that she is destined to run a kitchen one day. So, what kind of kitchen does she see herself in?
“I would love to have my own place someday,” she said, acknowledging that the recognition from the judges meant a lot to her. “But I don’t think that that’s going to happen for a couple of years. But ideally, I’d love to have a really small kitchen, maybe like a 20 seater restaurant, and it’d be a lot more relaxed than something like at Society. But that would be the goal, to just run a little kitchen and for it to be quite casual.”
On the subject of the judges, Newton said that she was able to get to know them quite well and that they each helped her in different ways.
“The judges all offer something so different,” she said. “Jock comes from a very technical background, so he’s able to really give you feedback about the technicality of the dish. Mel is just so supportive and so intelligent and knows the origin of every single dish. And then I think Andy and I kind of connected in terms of the fact that we’re kind of similar and both from pretty similar backgrounds and we both grew up fishing, and then obviously he was a contestant as well.”
Of the three of them, however, she felt the most guidance from Melissa Leong, whose encyclopedic knowledge of food and way with words inspired Newton endlessly.
“Mel was just so supportive and she was just gorgeous the whole time,” Newton said. “They were all supportive, and just so lovely and I think all of them are amazing, but Mel was just really, really lovely. So that was nice to have her support — especially when you’re extremely stressed.”
It’s no secret that this year’s MasterChef hopefuls all became incredibly close and Newton said that being the youngest, her fellow cooks often took her under their wings. She noted that she spent plenty of time with Scott (Bagnell) and Elise (Pulbrook) with the latter becoming like a big sister to her, while Kishwar (Chowdry) would make her beautiful Bengali food when she wasn’t feeling well.
“And then people like Pete and Brent, they were just big brothers as well, “she said. “They were always checking on me after I had a bad cook and always sent me messages saying, ‘Don’t worry about it, just get in there tomorrow and smash it.’ They were really, really lovely.”
As we’ve seen on the show, injuries come with the territory when you are cooking under so much pressure, but Newton revealed that she escaped relatively unscathed… until she got home.
“It’s so crazy because I never ever cut myself in the MasterChef kitchen,” she said. “I burned myself so many times, which was just really painful, but I never ever cut myself. But then, as soon as I got home from my MasterChef, I totally cut myself in my own kitchen!”
In terms of her food ambitions, Newton said that she only has two subjects to complete in her commerce degree so she will be focusing on that for the rest of the year and then plans to seek work experience with some of the guest chefs she met during her time on the show and keep working toward that goal of owning her own restaurant.
When that day comes, we’ll be interested to see if Newton’s favourite elements from the MasterChef kitchen make an appearance in her own.
“I got obsessed with the ThermoMix and the ice cream machine was just the best,” she said. “But then I really miss all of the pantry ingredients. We have this amazing food team that put together the pantry each day and the stuff that they got in for us was just out of control. So, I’m really missing all of it, to be honest!”
You can follow Sabina’s food journey at @sabinanewton and be sure to watch the MasterChef Australia 2021 finale on Network Ten and 10Play on July 13, 2021, at 7.30pm.