Season 5 of MasterChef has finally come to our television screens. A new year and a new bunch. Some will be as quickly as forgotten as their predecessors. Off the top of my head I can name barely five that have had any sort of televised career after sweating their way to the top in the MasterChef kitchen.
So what is it all about? What is it that MasterChef can give you that the real world can’t? For Alice Zaslavsky, MasterChef was the spring board for her career change into television and her movement into the world of food.
I have known Alice for a number of years now, we met at Melbourne University in the Bachelor of Teaching. I remember the first time I saw her, she sat in the front of the class with her over sized dorky glasses, and interjected knowledge of Curriculum and Assessment as if she had been here before. I was immediately drawn to her. I remember thinking, ‘geez this girl would be so much prettier without those glasses’. But for Alice it was never about, (in her words) being a “total babe”, Alice is Alice.
In the MasterChef kitchen her eclectic dress sense was showcased through a variety of large t-shirts. And the glasses are just as much a part of her as her ability to evolve her life around the world of ultimate ‘punning’. For Alice, MasterChef was likened to going to a ‘Food University’, which provided her with practical skills that gave her the opportunity to explore a wider range of options for the future.
The reality of the MasterChef world is that it is fierce. And by fierce I am not referring to the competition. It was all the ins and outs of living with a number of other people in the same house. Living and cooking together and having to wake up everyday and not know what you are preparing for. Alike Alice, all the other contestants in the house had limited contact with the outside world. She was given the ability to phone her Fiancé Nick once a week for ten minutes, and their only other way of contact was via letters.
The most difficult part for Alice, was living with such a large variety of people from all walks of life. And unless you know Alice, you will have a hard time trying work out her quirky sense of humour. This has allowed her to become such a highly crafted school teacher and an idol of many of her students.
For Alice, MasterChef was never entirely about being a chef. All Alice knew was that her love of food and cooking was something that she wanted to pursue. As a normally chatty and social person, the behind the scenes work in the kitchen would never be suited to her personality. And as a natural teacher, and by natural I mean one of those people that easily slip into the role of performing and educating without hesitation, Alice is best suited to a role in which she would be able to showcase the best of her quick witted personality. What she inevitably learned from teaching, was the power of celebrity and how to make safe choices in respect to her actions.
Of course I could never really interview Alice entirely, without asking her to reveal the decisions behind the cooking of that tongue. Alice said that at that stage in the MasterChef kitchen, she knew they could cook anything in the pantry. It was one of the very rare times when contestants were given such a large leash. Walking into the pantry, Alice eyed the tongue and believed that as the tongue sat there as a option, this could be her only chance to cook with it. She concluded her thoughts were ‘why would they give it as an option if the contestants did not have enough time to cook it?’ For Alice, she saw this as a challenge to make her stand out from the crowd. In the end, we saw that both Alice and Andy – the season’s winner – both did really badly in this challenge. But for Alice this meant that she had to set the bar higher, if she was going to have a real shot at winning.
As seen in the show, Alice made it to the final seven. A noteworthy achievement that was made that much better by having Nick with her on her final show. From memory Alice skipped off set and escaped through those MasterChef doors hand in hand with her Prince Charming. The perfect ending to a fairytale journey.
Since leaving the show in 2012, Alice has had the opportunity to attend a wide variety of functions and events. More recently she got to attend the Stroke Foundation dinner. But most of all Alice enjoys the opportunity to host live demonstrations in front of an audience. I was with her at the Melbourne Show last year. Housed in the Good Food and Wine tent, I sat eagerly behind the stage listening to the best of ‘Aliceisms’. It was made all the more exciting by the visit from ex-students who were eager to chat to Alice or ‘Miss Z’ before we left.
Being on MasterChef had opened so many doors, that without the notoriety of television she may have never seen. If you turn your television on at 7:30am on Channel GO, you will see Alice hosting the new episodes of Kitchen Whiz. For Alice, Kitchen Whiz is like teaching again, which is something ex-teachers really miss. Personally I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect for this type of show.
Before the first episode of Kitchen Whiz began filming, Alice reflects that when she was sitting in the Green Room, it felt like she was in a dream. For it was at this moment she felt like she was exactly where she should be. Alice was in her element, where she could entertain and educate children about food and healthy living. She finally felt at home.
Amidst the drama of the MasterChef kitchen, her eager boyfriend Nick, sat at home with Alice’s engagement ring. He had planned the proposal long before Alice escaped to Sydney and was hidden behind the circle of the MasterChef M. He had already spoken with Father Zaslavsky and was waiting for the right moment to propose. Waiting patiently till Alice returned, Nick finally proposed and confessed his love for Alice at the family dinner. It was the most beautiful time for Alice and her family. A long awaited relief.
This is the point in the story, where I make claim to the introduction of Alice and Nick. Who were really destined to be together from their first meeting. When she would tell me of their elaborate exchanges, I knew this man had stolen her heart. He was perfect for Alice. I was happy for her, although I had lost my gym buddy.
Alice has many addictions other than food. She has an extreme love of exercise and being all over healthy. It was why we connected initially and it was what made our friendship thrive into a flourished entity. As a Osteopath, Nick had a keen interest in fitness himself, and the two of them entered into the world of CrossFit. It is not for the faint hearted. Extreme sports and agility combined into fitness and challenge. Alice always loved to be challenged. As a gymnast growing up, CrossFit seemed like an easy progression.
Life for Alice since MasterChef has been busy. Currently she is planning her wedding and filming for Kitchen Whiz, all while writing her recipe book for teenagers. Her book is all about real food, using accessible ingredients whilst maintaining Alice’s comedic element and of course she wouldn’t be a teacher without providing factual references. By the end of the year, it will be available on shelves and I am eagerly awaiting it’s release.
Alice could not have come this far without some highlights of her own. She made reference to all of the wonderful places that she has been able to cook at such as the Seppelts Winery’s caves and on a small island, as well as cooking for the Israeli Ambassador.
So where is the little girl from Melbourne with the oversized glasses headed? For Alice her goals have always been the same, to look back on her journeys and to help others. She wants to travel, endure more study as well as use her skills for curriculum writing. Since the show, Alice and Julia have remained the best of friends. However Julia has scored a job in the kitchen with Zumbo and when Alice gets the chance she heads to Sydney to spend time with Julia and her furry family.
All in all MasterChef has provided Alice with the springboard into the world that she was destined to be in. I am proud of her achievements thus far, and she clearly sends her message to follow your dream. I wish Alice all the best with all of her future endeavors. As her success is finally beginning to take shape.
“Big things come to those who do.”
Alice writes her thoughts on www.alicez.com.au