He’s known for creating some of the most intricate and show-stopping desserts MasterChef viewers have ever seen, but Adriano Zumbo now says his experience as a contestant on the Channel 10 spin-off Dessert Masters has changed the way he will set future pressure tests on the cooking show.
Zumbo, who is often referred to as ‘Australia’s Willy Wonka’, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he has much more empathy for contestants recreating his dishes on the show after going through the competition himself.
“I’ve got a different view,” he says. “Look, I won’t make the tests easier, but I think understanding a lot of those little things along the way maybe I might tweak things here and there because I understand that you’ve gotta go run [around the kitchen] and this and that.
“That takes up so much time. It’s already tight timing and then you’re running to get stuff and if you forget something you’ve got to run back because you’re kind of on the fly.
“But you’ve still got to keep the pressure, so they are what they are. And they get a lot more time [than we did], so I’ll still stick to my guns if I get the call back on to do another pressure test.”
Despite the fact that he’s made regular appearances in the MasterChef kitchen since season one in 2009, Zumbo asserts he didn't have an advantage in the competition because he had never been on the other side of the bench.
“When you’re [a guest judge], you spend a couple of weeks or a month testing a product to get it right to suit the challenge, and then you present it and the challenge happens and most of the time they’ve got three or four hours. So it's a lot different,” he details.
“You kind of understand the point in your head from being there so many times, like the pinch points, but once you're in there it's a different ballgame. It's just so much in your head and it’s such a time pressure. It’s pretty intense, but it's good fun. The adrenaline pumps through you like anything and you’ve got to push and really get it done.”
'Do my best'
Speaking about his decision to join Dessert Masters, Zumbo says he originally didn’t want to sign on as a contestant.
“It took a few weeks just to really have a good think about it, but then I decided I’ll do it because everyone can do with $100,000,” he laughs.
“I was like, I’ll give it a crack. Whatever happens, I’m going to push as hard as I can and do my best. I'm not gonna go out on something that's not going be short of amazing.”
He adds that he’s “so glad” he did the show and got to meet the other nine contestants - some of whom told him that he was the reason they became pastry chefs.
“It was great to connect and hear a lot of them talk and say, ‘You’re the inspiration to why I’m here’,” he recalls. “I think that's pretty touching to have that said about you that I’ve done something right in this career, in the sense of the industry and inspiring people.
“And it's great to see them in there and what they do because everyone there has come a long way from their beginnings and taught themselves and learned and pushed themselves to be amazing dessert chefs, so it's pretty good to be amongst it. I really enjoyed sharing the moment with all of them.”
Dessert Masters continues Sunday – Tuesday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play
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