Superstar week is underway on MasterChef Australia 2021, with comfort food queen Nigella Lawson kicking things off. Lawson had five of the contestants attempt to make her decadent rhubarb meringue cake without any recipe or visual reference in a challenge that saw YoYo get sent home.
If Ottolenghi’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s for good reason. The Israeli-British chef is a giant of the food industry and has authored nine cookbooks including 2008’s Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, 2012’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook, and 2018’s Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook.
The famed culinary master studied at Le Cordon Bleu and has won numerous awards for his books and restaurants, including a prestigious James Beard award for Jerusalem. Ottolenghi, 52, has also co-owned six delis and restaurants in London, bringing his simple and delicious Middle Eastern meals to the masses.
Ottolenghi met his partner Karl Allen in 2000 and they married in 2012. They have two sons — Max who was born in 2013 and Flynn whom they welcomed in 2015. In 2013, Ottolenghi wrote a heartfelt and humourous opinion piece for The Guardian in which he detailed the journey to becoming a parent — or, as he called it, “the long, hard road to gay parenthood.”
Although the renowned chef is not a vegetarian, many of his recipes and books favour vegetables such as Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi and his most recent offering, Flavour.
Impressively, Ottolenghi is not just a master of food, but of academia too, having completed his Masters in Comparative Literature in 1997, before pursuing his culinary career in London — a move his parents weren’t too happy about at the time.
The celebrity chef is no stranger to appearing on TV screens and has hosted television specials but has turned down multiple opportunities to appear as a guest judge on various cooking competitions. He agreed to appear on Masterchef Australia as he felt it was more about “the personal development of the contestants more than the competition” and made his debut as a guest judge on the show in 2017.
Apparently, our cooking shows aren’t the only form of Aussie entertainment this popular chef enjoys — in 2019 he told Good Food about another series he had recently enjoyed.
“Karl and I just binge-watched the entire Australian series called Please Like Me with Josh Thomas, which was funny and serious, both disconnected and so connected,” he said. “We were devastated when we finished it.”