And now 13 years on, the much-loved cook, author and TV personality is set to return to the series alongside 11 other former contestants and 12 new competitors for MasterChef: Fans & Favourites.
Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle about the upcoming season, which premieres April 18, judge Andy Allen says he’s "super pumped" to have Julie back in the kitchen.
"There’s a reason why everyone’s fallen in love with Julie Goodwin over the last 13 years," he gushes, "She’s an open book, she's so relatable and she's an amazing human being."
"Along with the new format, having Julie back is the best thing about this series. It's been so amazing to see her grow, not just as a cook, but also as a person. I think she’d admit that she's grown as a person in the time that we've been filming, so she makes the show."
While viewers are understandably excited for Julie’s highly-anticipated return to the kitchen, Andy reveals that she was actually very “worried” about competing again.
“She won 13 years ago and she's very aware of how the food scene has changed over those 13 years, partly to do with the success of MasterChef and how it brings food into everyone's lounge room on a nightly basis,” he details.
“But then also, Julie’s gone out into the industry, she’s really just stuck to cooking honest home food. There are no bells and whistles about it, she makes it tasty, she cooks for her family every night of the week.
“However, it's not the technique-driven food that has kind of morphed into MasterChef over the last 13 years. She's very open about that.”
‘A pretty special experience’
Andy went on to say that one of his favourite moments during filming for the upcoming season was hearing Julie talk so candidly about her recent personal struggles.
“To see her open up and to see how raw and emotional she is about her past, I'll never forget how powerful it was,” he details.
“Her journey over the past 13 years all adds up to why she's actually come back on this show. She hasn’t just thought, ‘Oh well, I’m in my mid-50s, I suppose I'll do it’. There's so much that adds up to why Julie Goodwin is actually back on MasterChef, so it's a pretty special experience.”
Although it might appear as though the returning stars have the advantage this season, Andy says he was very surprised by how quickly the amateur foodies developed in the competition.
“Having the fans cook every day against the favourites and to be able to interact with them and learn from them and see what they're cooking, it was apparent really early on how much better and how much faster the fans were going to progress,” he remarks. “And I'm so grateful that's the case because it does make for a great series.
“Yes, it's competitive, but there's also this beautiful environment where the favourites really feel connections with the fans and they can see what they're going through and they act as mentors as well. So it's a really interesting format that is kicking such goals for the show.”
MasterChef: Fans & Favourites premieres Monday, April 18 at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play On Demand
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