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Why MasterChef winner Emelia Jackson almost didn't return for season 12

EXCLUSIVE: Emelia Jackson opens up about her experience on Back to Win.

She managed to beat 23 returning contestants on MasterChef’s iconic twelfth season in 2020 and take home $250,000, but it turns out Emelia Jackson almost didn’t appear on Back to Win.

Emelia, who previously finished in third place on season six, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she had initially turned down the offer to return to the competition due to work commitments.

MasterChef’s Emelia Jackson on season 12.
MasterChef’s Emelia Jackson reveals why she initially turned down Back to WIn. Photo: Channel 10

“It was a really, really hard call for me because they were filming from January until June, and that was my peak wedding cake season,” she details.

“I had built my business up to this really great business and I thought, if I walk away this is potentially going to end my business for me. I'm gonna have to start from scratch and I'm gonna have to get new clients and work out all of that again.

“So it wasn't an easy decision for me just to say, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go back on’. I didn't have a shopfront or anything like that so it wasn't like I could just put someone else in charge and walk away and come back to the same business.”

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Emelia explains that after getting the call in June 2019 to return to the MasterChef kitchen and saying 'no', she had “made peace with that decision” by August and began taking on wedding cake orders for the following year.

“Then I got a call in late December and it was like, ‘We really want you on, someone else has pulled out, can you please come on?’, and they started filming like, two or three weeks later,” she recalls. “And I just thought, ‘Alright, I'll go on’. The MasterChef gods were pulling me back into the kitchen so I went back.

“And I had taken on all these cake orders, so at the beginning of filming, I was filming all week and then I would race home and bake cakes at night to get them done. A lot ended up getting cancelled because Covid hit in February of that year, so it was just for January but I was baking every weekend. But I was like, this is too much!”

MasterChef’s Emelia Jackson on season 12.
‘The MasterChef gods were pulling me back into the kitchen so I went back.’ Photo: Channel 10

'An amazing experience'

Speaking about her experience competing on season 12, Emelia admits she was “so much less competitive” than her previous time on the show.

“I was 24 in season six and I was 30 in season 12, and I think just that sort of six years of maturity, I was able to see that as an adult you don't get many opportunities in your life for fun, just completely no responsibility fun,” she says.

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“I thought this is just going to be a really fun experience for me and I kind of took the pressure off and thought, I don't need to win it, I don't need to do well for anyone else, I don't need to beat my original position. I was just going in there saying, I’m just gonna have fun and this is just going to be an amazing experience.”

Three years on from winning MasterChef, Emelia is currently writing her second cookbook and “diving back into the world” of creating packet mixes, which she hopes to release soon.

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