What's Laura Cassai Been Up to Since MasterChef?
It's been just over two weeks since the MasterChef grand final aired and Brent Owens was crowned the winner of the 2014 series. As the winner of the show he was given a massive boost in achieving his food dream, as well as $250,000 cash and a car, but what about the runner-up, 19-year-old Laura Cassai? Like previous contestants before her who didn't take out the prize, she's using the experience and exposure to make her mark on the Australian food industry, leaving university to clock up more hours in the kitchen. And she's got even more exciting news! We caught up with Laura recently to talk about the big things she's cooking up (pardon the pun), what it was like living in the MasterChef bubble, and whether she agrees with viewers that she received too much help from the judges over the course of the show.
POPSUGAR Australia: It feels like MasterChef ended a really long time ago!
Laura Cassai: I know, it does, it's so strange thinking about it all.
PS: Especially for you, since it ended a lot longer ago than it did on TV.
Laura: Exactly. While you guys were all there watching, I was at home waiting to find out who actually won!
PS: What was it like having that anticipation of not knowing who'd won?
Laura: It was really weird. Obviously I loved coming home and watching a lot of the episodes, that was really nice, but it was always on the back of the mind, like, 'Did I do enough? Did I win?' For a few weeks I didn't even think about it at all; I kept myself so busy so that I wouldn't think about it. And then I think it was about a week before the finale that I was like, 'Oh my God, it's only a week,' and then I started driving myself mental about it, thinking about it all the time, and not sleeping. So it was a bit of a roller coaster, actually, waiting for it all to finish.
PS: How hard was it to keep the secret that you'd made it to the grand final?
Laura: It was definitely a challenge. A lot of my friends saw me back home and were like, "How did you go? What did you come?" And I was like, "I don't know." I wanted to tell them so badly, but I literally didn't know which place I came. It was kind of good that I didn't know as well. But it was a struggle because people wanted to know so bad, but I was like, "Nope, I can't, sorry."
PS: So what have you been up to since the show finished filming?
Laura: A lot! I'm working full time at Restaurant Orana, in the city. I've had to wait until the finale had aired until I could get other offers. In the last week-and-a-half I have signed a book deal, so I have a cookbook coming out at Mother's Day next year, which is really exciting. I've been doing a bit of public speaking at a local high school and getting involved in a kitchen garden program. And the upcoming things are cooking demonstrations in Adelaide and stuff like that, and at the moment I'm working on which charity I want to work with. I have a few good deals coming up, so I'm in the process of picking and choosing what I want. There's a lot going on, actually!
PS: Past MasterChef contestants have proven you don't have to win to be able to still get the food career you want out of it. Was it an easy decision to leave your studies behind?
Laura: Yeah kind of! At the beginning, like when I first applied, I never thought I'd get into the show, like it never crossed my mind I'd have to leave uni. And then once I was actually on the show, I started to realise that uni was not for me, and that I didn't enjoy it, and it just wasn't the thing I wanted to go back home to. Now it's kind of not even an option. It's so weird that in six months my view of uni has changed so much.
Source: Network Ten