As one of MasterChef’s bigger personalities, Dani Venn wasn’t afraid to show her emotions when she experienced great highs or disappointing lows. She exited the competition last night on the back of a ‘food autobiography’ challenge, where the contestants had to cook three dishes that represented three different stages of their lives. We spoke to Dani about how she came across on camera, immunity pin guilt, the whole red lipstick drama, and what’s next in her food journey.
What have you been doing in your first weeks out of MasterChef?
The first few weeks haven’t been very busy. I’ve gone back to finish filming the finale, so I was in Sydney for quite a bit of that, and we had quite a few photo shoots for magazines. And then when I got back from that I went on a lovely holiday with my boyfriend, Chris — we went up to Port Douglas. Then I got back on Sunday and it’s been pretty busy working on interviews for the elimination! [laughs]
It’s nice that you got a chance to get away from everything.
It was really nice. Just being able to go swimming, go out for dinner and just enjoy my boyfriend’s company and relax together, it’s been really good.
What helped you get through the time you spent away from your loved ones?
They were an amazing support network. They were constantly positive, they told me to stick in there, and they really wanted me to be there. We wrote a lot of letters and got lots of little parcels in the mail — it was really romantic because I was getting love letters, and you don’t get that anymore! So it was really nice to receive actual post. [It helped] just knowing that when it’s all over I’ll be going back to the same thing. I’m back now and it’s all good!
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Throughout the competition you had quite a few highs and a few lows. What was your highlight and least favourite moment?
There were a few — it’s hard to pick one — but my favourite challenge was cooking lunch for the Dalai Lama. That was very special. Also, going to New York and having my mum in the kitchen. And lowlight . . . gosh, there were a few! [laughs] Even though they were lowlights they were still funny and fun. Last night was a bit of a lowlight — the actual result of my meal wasn’t so good. And my other dish that I made that was quite funny was the Spanish trifle that ended up being a disaster as well!
You divided fans because of your emotional nature. Were you ever worried about how you’d come across to viewers?
I honestly just wanted to be myself, to give everything of my personality, which has divided people — some people can’t handle that I’m quite a big personality. I love to laugh and I love to cry, and just love being happy. I’m totally myself on camera and it’s come across on TV, which I’m happy about. And if I’m not everyone’s cup of tea then that’s OK because you can’t please everyone.
When you had to make a decision about using the immunity pin just before finals week, do you think you had to feel so much guilt about using it?
It was a tough one because I had to consider my friendships, Alana’s feelings, as well as the competition, but at the end of the day it is a competition and I had to use it. I had to think of myself, as selfish as that may seem, but the reason you get an immunity pin is because you need to use it eventually, and it was the last opportunity. It’s not a situation that I liked being in at all. I just told myself that Alana would’ve done the same thing and most of the population would’ve done the same thing as well!
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think so. I try to live my life in general with no regrets, and I don’t have any regrets about my time on MasterChef. I was totally myself and I can’t change who I am.
What are your plans for your new website, Twitter, Facebook and other social media?
I hope my food blog can grow and I’ll see where it takes me. It’s exciting because usually when you start a website no one looks at it, but I’ve got an audience so I want to update it with great recipes, and funny, quirky experiences I’ve had in restaurants. It’s a bit of an experiment at the moment so I’ll see where it goes.
What advice do you have for someone who can’t cook but wants to learn?
Buying a good cookbook and trying simple things you start with. But you need a good cookbook because if the recipes aren’t great and you stuff it up, then you won’t like the result. Try baby steps. And if you invite someone over for dinner it’ll feel more rewarding because you’re sharing it with someone and that makes you like the experience of cooking more.
Photo courtesy of Network Ten