Despite being one of the most stressful experiences of his life, Justin Narayan says he would “one hundred per cent” return to the MasterChef kitchen if he was given the chance.
The 28-year-old, who won the show’s 13th season almost a year ago, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he would absolutely love the chance to cook for judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo again because he still has “so much to learn”.
“I'm still super young and I'm still really green,” he says. “And being in that environment is just this pressure cooker of incredible mentors and people and you’re always growing and learning.
“I would do it for those reasons alone, but then also the friends and people you meet along the way and the things you’re exposed to, I would still pay good money for now. Like, if I could get a masterclass with Josh Niland, one hundred per cent, I would pay thousands of dollars for that.”
Justin went on to say that while he’s been “loving” the current season of the cooking competition, he still experiences a little bit of “PTSD” when he watches it on TV.
“It's just as stressful as being there,” he remarks. “Because you're sitting there on your couch and your heart starts pounding and you're like, ‘Oh wait, I'm just watching. It's okay’.
“But your mind's always going like, ‘Alright, what would I do?’, which I kind of always played along with when I watched the show previously, but now there's obviously another layer of reality to it.
“It still blows my mind how creative people are, and I'm still pinching myself like, ‘How did I do that?’. They're just unbelievable. The talent, the favourites, the fans, it’s just insane what they're cooking and how much they know about food.”
‘I’m still learning so much’
Speaking about how much his life has changed since winning the show last year, Justin admits it’s been “an absolute whirlwind”.
“It's crazy that my job right now is just creating food content, working with food brands and products, and being able to develop recipes and do different activations,” he says.
“MasterChef for me was just a launching pad for everything that the food world has to offer and I’m still learning so much. If anything, I've learned more in the last 12 months about food and different food products than I ever have, so it's been really cool.”
He adds that he’s yet to spend all of his prize money after winning a whopping $250,000, but has a few plans in place.
“I’ll hopefully put it towards a house or some good investments and see what happens when stars align again with the right people in a restaurant or something,” he details.
“I’ve invested some of it and held onto some and got to give some away, so it's been awesome.”
‘Better for the planet’
Justin is currently working on building his social media brand, posting regular content on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, and working with brands to promote exciting products.
He recently became a brand ambassador for Future Farm, encouraging Australians to swap beef for plant-based patties ahead of National Burger Day.
“It's such a great product, especially in today's age where we’re probably smashing a little bit too much meat,” he says.
“So it’s awesome having products like Future Farm that are super healthy and high in protein to just make that transition a little bit easier if you miss the texture and flavour of meat. Plus it’s better for the planet, which I think is something we all need to look after.”
To celebrate National Burger Day, Justin is heading to the iconic Bondi SLSC with Future Farm between 11am and 4pm on Saturday, May 28 where locals can try the Vegan Smash Slider for free.
Future Farm Smash Burger Recipe
2 Future Farm Burger Patties
2 slices of vegan cheese
2 vegan brioche buns
2 tsp vegan butter
4 burger pickles
¼ iceberg lettuce
Salt and pepper
TRUFF burger sauce:
2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp TRUFF’s Original Hot Sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt to taste
1. To make the TRUFF burger sauce add all your ingredients to a bowl and mix, season with a pinch of salt to taste and set aside.
2. Get a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Slice your buns in half and butter, then toast. Then set aside.
3. Add 1-2 tbsp of oil into the skillet and place your burger patties into the pan. using the back of a solid spatula lightly brushed with oil, press down until patties are just under 1 cm thick, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3mins, then flip. Top with vegan cheese and then add a splash of water and cover to allow the cheese to melt, cooking for another 2-3mins. Then remove from the pan.
4. Finely shred enough iceberg for two burgers.
5. To assemble, place your cooked patties onto the bottom bun, then top with 2 slices of pickles and a mound of shredded lettuce. On your top bun add a generous amount of your TRUFF burger sauce then crown your burger and enjoy!
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