13 years after winning the inaugural season of MasterChef Australia, Julie Goodwin returned to the cooking competition alongside 11 other former contestants for this year’s season titled Fans & Favourites.
Chatting with Yahoo Lifestyle about her decision to come back to the show that made her a household name, Julie reveals that there was one major change behind-the-scenes that helped her say ‘yes’.
“These days you're actually allowed to have your phone. Not in the studio when we're filming, but you're allowed to have your phone at night,” she shares.
“We had a lot more contact with our families and without that, I would have said ‘no’. If I knew I was leaving the contact of my family for six months, I could not have done that and I would not have done that.
“It just made it so much of a better experience, because you know and love all the contestants but you really need connection with your own humans and the people that you've built your whole life with.”
The author and radio star went on to detail the other key differences between her experience on season 1 and season 14, including the freedom the contestants were given outside of the kitchen.
“You're allowed out on the weekend if you want,” she says, before adding with a laugh, “Even though we hardly went out because Covid was looming. But that was a massive change for me.
“And the other big change was that we weren't in a shared house. We were in a shared apartment building, but we all had our own little units. Some shared with one other person, but we all had a bit more space and a bit more privacy.”
‘It was pretty intense’
Speaking about the moment she received the phone call to come back to MasterChef, Julie admits she “wasn’t in a great headspace”.
“My stomach did flips and my heart hammered and my head said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous, you can't do that, there’s no way’,” she recalls. “I just didn't think I would have the mental strength or the emotional strength to do it.
“But there was something in my belly that felt like excitement and I thought, I feel excited about this prospect, so maybe this is something I shouldn’t say ‘no’ to just because it seems like a bad idea. Maybe I need to explore that little feeling of excitement. And so I just decided to give it a crack, and away we went.”
She also says that to prepare for her return she had to ramp up her regular food research and home cooking and do some “old school study”.
“I’m more of an intuitive cook,” she details, “So I chuck things in and taste them until they taste good. And so what I needed was a few base recipes - biscuits, cake, rice ratios, all that sort of stuff.
“But I also had to do preparation outside of what MasterChef was going to be in terms of handing over my business, my family. That was quite a lot of mental preparation as well.
“I worked with my psych on how I would cope under certain scenarios and I did a lot of preparation with the production team too as to how it was all going to work. So it was pretty intense.”
Despite being sent home during Tuesday night’s episode for the first time ever in her MasterChef journey, Julie says she’s at peace with the judges’ decisions and she’s extremely happy with her performance throughout the season.
“I think even from the episode where I was cooking with Billie [McKay] and Mindy [Woods] in the pressure test, I just felt this sense of, ‘Wow, I really feel like I've done what I came here to do. I feel strong and I feel confident’,” she remarks.
“I actually thought I was going home that episode, so pretty much everything after that was a massive bonus. And getting to go to Tasmania, oh my god, I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
“I love the idea that somebody else now will get to raise that trophy and have the experience of being the MasterChef winner.”
She adds that she had no expectations about how she would perform this time around, and she walks away from the franchise with no regrets.
“Going into it I honestly didn't know how it was going to roll, whether I was going to step up and be a contender or whether I would just be there and sort of wave hi to everybody and say, ‘Wow, this is far further than I can go’ and step out pretty quickly,” she admits.
“I just know that if you're going to do something, you give it everything you've got so that you can walk away without any regrets. And that is honestly what's happened. I have no regrets that I've left in fifth place because I know in my heart that I did my very best.”
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