“I Couldn’t Take Him Seriously” — Mindy On Having Friend Andy Allen Judge Her Food on MasterChef Australia

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On Tuesday night, Billie McKay, Julie Goodwin and Mindy Woods faced an intense Pressure Test set by the one and only Kirsten Tibballs. Known for her stunning chocolate creations, Tibballs has previously caused chaos in the MasterChef Australia kitchen.

And last night, was no exception.

Her “Cherry on Top” dessert was comprised of multiple steps and saw Favourite Mindy head home. However, despite it being her last cook in the kitchen, Mindy remained as optimistic as ever, and has chosen to look on the bright side.

“It was actually exciting! Billie, Julie and I made a pact — because people get so stressed over pressure tests — like it’s intangible the amount of stress those challenges bring into the space — and us girls were like, ‘this is food, let’s have fun with it, let’s bring the girl power and see what happens at the end of the race’,” Mindy told POPSUGAR Australia.

“So, we just went in with the mindset of having a great time together and what a way to go out.”

It’s been 10 years since Mindy’s first stint on MasterChef Australia, and a lot has changed since then. Possibly the biggest change of all was that her fellow contestant Andy Allen was the one deciding her fate.

“It was incredibly different returning to MasterChef this time,” Mindy said. “I mean, I look at Andy as a colleague and friend, not someone who has my fate in his hands, so that was actually really interesting.

“I was stirring him up a lot because half the time I couldn’t take him seriously when he was giving me feedback,” she added, laughing.

The chef opened up about how different the show was back in 2012. From a completely different set of judges, to the rules the contestants were required to abide by — MasterChef Australia has gone through an overhaul. 

“It’s a completely different format than what it was 10 years ago,” she explained. “We were locked in a house last time! There were 23 of us locked in a house, and we didn’t have mobile phones, computers or freedom.

“This time we did have freedom, and of course, we have a lot of social media which gives us the gift of being able to interact with viewers.”

Despite being in the industry for a decade now, there were a lot of things Mindy had to learn and unlearn during her time on the show. For one, she was no longer cooking for Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan, and two, the new judges all had their preferences when it came to flavour.

“It takes a bit of time to understand what [the new judges] likes are, and food is such a subjective thing and you learn pretty quickly what they do and don’t like,” said Mindy.

“It was very easy with George, Matt and Gary because they were very honest about what they liked and didn’t like, but it was trickier with Jock [Zonfrillo], Andy and Mel [Leong]. 

“Jock’s not a fan of garlic! Who knew? So I started pulling back on the garlic. Andy loves his big and bold flavours so I had to really amp up my food when it came to that sort of thing.”

Now that her time on MasterChef Australia is over, Mindy will return to her hometown of Byron Bay, where she will continue to showcase native ingredients and food at her restaurant Karkalla. 

Passionate about showing off her Indigenous heritage, Mindy is hoping to create native food gardens in primary schools around Australia.

“It’s one of my passion projects to connect all Australians with native ingredients, and I believe kids are our future,” she shared. “So we’re working on giving bush tucker gardens to schools and educating kids about how good they are for you, and teaching them how to use them and cook with them.”

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