It promises “a brand new city, a brand new kitchen, and 22 brand new contestants chasing their food dreams to become Australia’s next MasterChef.”
It also boasts the most diverse cultural backgrounds seen in the MasterChef Australia kitchen to date.
Amongst the contestants are a young Muslim woman, an Opera singer, Indian and Indonesian-born contestants, a stockman, openly gay contestants and a man born in a refugee camp on the border of Laos and Thailand.
For the first time ever, the show also launches straight into the Top 22 -a great idea.
Andrew Prior: 40, VIC, Ex-Insurance Underwriter
Following a nine-month stay in Paris last year, Andrew was inspired to give up his career as an insurance underwriter and follow his food dream, applying for MasterChef Australia as a kick start to changing his life. Andrew lives with his partner of nine years, Peter, and their two golden retrievers.
Christina Batista: 31, NSW, Stay-At-Home Mum
Christina is a mum who lives with her partner, Kate, and their two children. Her kids are her world and if she’s not spending time with her children she is watching cooking shows or cooking. Christina’s dream is to open up a funky cafe that plays on her love of the 1950s fashion and style.
Clarissa Dodawec: 44, VIC, Opera Singer
CIarissa is an opera singer who is now at a crossroads in her life, having had to give up her career due to a condition in her jaw which means she can no longer sing professionally. One of five children, Clarissa grew up in South Australia, spending her formative years in Clare near the Barossa Valley, where her love of food began to grow and was nurtured.
Daniel Churchill: 23, NSW, Fitness Coach
Personal trainer, nutritionist, cookbook author and all-round boy’s boy, Daniel has achieved a lot for his years. With a Masters in exercise science, he is one of only a few post graduate qualified personal trainers. Daniel works with the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL and a number of other professional rugby players as both a strength and conditioning coach and a nutrition consultant.
Daniel Kelty (Kelty): 35, NSW, Stay-At-Home Dad
Daniel is a first generation Australian, born into an Irish family who moved to Australia in the 1970s. He recently gave up his high-flying corporate career in the wine business and all the trappings that came with it, including a car and six-figure salary. He has been relishing his new role as a stay-at-home dad of two, while his wife Donna has continued her career as an inner-city nurse and mid-wife.
Dan Tuddenham: 20, NSW, Student
Dan grew up with his parents and two sisters in the small country town of Burrawang in the Southern Highlands, NSW. For as long as he can remember, he was always around the ankles of his mum and grandma whenever they were cooking, and they are both huge inspirations in his life and have taught him most of what he knows today. Dan is currently studying a Bachelor of Education in Primary Teaching.
Emma Dean: 32, VIC, Ex-Transport Planner
Growing up on a hobby farm in Epsom, Victoria, Emma spent her childhood surrounded by chickens, sheep, cows, horses and produce. Emma has a Masters in Environment and Planning from RMIT, and has worked in transport planning for the State Government for over eight years. But after some recent soul searching, she decided to take a voluntary redundancy and make her food dreams a reality.
Faiza Rehman: 24, VIC, Student
Faiza is a confident young Muslim woman who has strong skills in traditional sub-continent cooking but loves to bake beautiful cakes. Faiza lives at home with her mother, father, brother and sister. They are a very close knit family and Faiza idolises her parents but says her dad is her ultimate hero, who moved his family from Pakistan to Australia when she was nine for better opportunities.
Julie Allen (Jules): 38, NSW, Social Worker
Single mum Jules is a free spirit, full of life and a real “earth mother”. She has four kids: two sons, Jay and Ishy (both 15) and daughters Elisha (19) and India (16). Her family is a blend of her own, adopted and foster children. Over the past 10 years Jules has had 29 foster children. Jules has spent her life helping others. Following the birth of her son, Jules relocated from Melbourne to Lennox Head, where she started working in child protection and later moved onto working with teenagers in crisis.
Liliana Battle: 42, WA, Stay-At-Home Mum
Liliana is a proud Italian mother, friendly and chatty, but also strong willed and competitive. She’s all about food and family, and comes from a strong Italian Calabrese extended family where food was always at the centre of life. Liliana lives in Port Headland WA with her two boys and husband of 21 years, Jason. A champion ballroom dancer for 13 years, she retired from dancing at 16 and later took up competitive bodybuilding.
Lucy Wallrock: 31, NSW, Marketing Director
Growing up in a tiny fishing village on the south coast of England, Lucy had an idyllic childhood with her parents, sailing, crabbing and cooking with her mum. Her two siblings are 10 years older than her and she relished being an “only child” when they were at boarding school. It’s Lucy’s mum, a chef, who brought her up with a huge love of food and a great passion for cooking.
Lynton Tapp: 25, NT, Stockman
A Top End stockman, Lynton grew up on a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory, 230km from the nearest town. His primary schooling was with the Katherine School of the Air and he later attended Toowoomba Boys Grammar as a boarder. Lynton’s mum has heavily influenced his love of cooking, whether it was cooking for the whole station of up to 27 people or a big beautiful feast at Christmas for the family.
Michael Todd: 41, SA, Cinema Proprietor
Michael is a cinema proprietor and father of three. Married for 16 years to wife Kerry, they have three children: nine-year-old twin sons and six-year-old daughter. At the age of 19, Michael packed his car and drove from NSW to SA. He met his wife at work over 21 years ago and they still work together to this day.
Neha Sen: 31, QLD, IT Consultant
Neha grew up in India with her parents and younger siste. Her parents were medical doctors who served the Indian Army and as a result the family moved around every couple of years. Neha attended nine different schools. Neha loves Latin dancing, which she does four or five times a week, and is known to bust a move when she nails a recipe. She has also continued her love of travel, focusing on the gastronomic delights more than the sights.
Nicky Agahari: 28, NSW, Pharmaceutical Manager
Born in Jakarta and emigrating to Australia as a five year old, Nicky is as passionate about eating as he is about cooking. His earliest memories centre around food: eating steamed rice noodles with peanut sauce every day after school in Jakarta, and trips to Sydney’s Chinatown with his grandma every Sunday to get the weekly groceries.
Noelene Marchwiki: 58, VIC, Optical Dispenser
Noelene lives in Gippsland, Victoria, with her third husband. With five grown-up kids and two grandchildren, she sees her future life in food as a natural extension of parenting. She is a great character, a chatterbox with a wicked sense of humour who radiates warmth. She’s worked in the same job selling prescription glasses for 11 years and now wants to indulge her passion for country-style food and fresh produce from her garden.
Pip Sumbak: 23, NSW, Office Assistant
Bright and energetic, Pip works in the office at the one-hatted 3 Blue Ducks restaurant in Bronte, but sees her real place in the kitchen. Pip had to turn down an apprenticeship there on doctor’s orders: after breaking her back in a skiing accident in Switzerland last year. Recovery has been particularly challenging for someone so active as she comes to terms with how her lifestyle has become limited.
Rishi Desai: 35, NSW, Public Servant
Public servant Rishi lives in Queanbeyan NSW with his wife Mitra and six-year-old son. Emigrating only five years ago, he has been cooking since he was five years old and has inherited his love for cooking from his mother. Growing up in the small city of Kolhapur, India, where his family still live today, Rishi had a traditional joint Indian family where grandparents and his fathers’ and uncles’ families all lived in a massive family home.
Samira El Khafir: 28, VIC, Stay-At-Home Mum
A qualified hairdresser and former telecommunications worker, Samira is now a stay-at-home mother to her two daughters and lives with husband Mahmoud in Melbourne. She is close to her family and extended family, and her cooking reflects the clash of her Arabic and Aussie background. With a big personality, Samira cites her top three loves as her girls, shoes and bags. She is also a sports lover, particularly AFL and her team, Collingwood.
Totem Douangmala: 23, SA, Student
Born in a refugee camp on the border of Laos and Thailand, Totem’s parents migrated to Australia when he was only six months old with Totem and his two older brothers. After finishing school, Totem undertook an International Relations degree, hoping to understand his parents’ decision to move to Australia. After two years, he deferred his studies and travelled to Laos and Thailand, where he was inspired by the local cuisine.
Vern Fitzgerald: 32, NSW, Bar Manager
Vern was born at home on a farm in Glenorie NSW, complete with goats and an organic garden. He has an older sister, Jade, and together with their parents, they had an idyllic childhood. Growing up in such an environment, his love of food was nurtured from a young age and his first influence was his mother, who was a great cook and always presented fresh, vibrant food.
Xavier Doran: 24, NSW, Carpenter
Xavier is a carpenter from Sydney, NSW who describes himself as “a pretty chilled guy”. He chose a carpentry apprenticeship over a chef’s apprenticeship as a teenager as he thought that spending so much time in the kitchen might kill his love for food and cooking. He has regretted that decision ever since.