My interview with Kate Bracks - Masterchef Australia winner at the Whitefield Baking Company, Bengaluru Marriott

Ever smiling Kate Bracks

If you followed my Facebook Page updates and the Twitter updates over last two weeks, you might have known how crazy excited I was to get a chance to meet Kate Bracks, winner of Masterchef Australia 3. Kate was here for the opening of Whitefield Baking Company at the Marriott Bengaluru. 

The raspberry-chocolate-hazelnut muffins Kate made for us

It was lovely to be able to meet her twice, once as a part of the Press Meet and another ladies soiree organised by GM Matthew Cooper's wife, Lynden, where Kate demonstrated some of her favourite recipes and we could exchange conversations over a superbly laid out special lunch spread. 

Marriott Bengaluru GM Matthew Cooper with Kate

Some of the colourful treats at the Whitfield Baking Company, which is very tastefully done up and the several baking implements giving it a very homely feel. I'd like to thank Marriott's the GM for allowing us this wonderful experience of meeting Kate and getting thoroughly inspired.

For entire set of pictures, check the album on Saffron Trail Facebook Page

Never imagined I'd be with Kate in one frame :)

I managed to have a one-on-one interview where I asked her about food, Masterchef, family & India. Here are some of the excerpts...

[This was first published in on 15 March, 2013]

Kate Bracks, winner of the third season of the hugely popular cooking reality showMasterChef Australia, was in Bangalore recently to help promote the café Whitefield Baking Company at the newly opened Bengaluru Marriott. We got a chance to ask her some questions. Edited excerpts:
When did you get interested in cooking and what is your first memory of cooking?
As a kid, I remember standing next to my Nanna in the kitchen helping her out with an apron wrapped around me. But my first real memory of cooking by myself is from when I was 8. It was the long summer holidays and I was terribly bored when my mum asked me to cook something. So I went into the kitchen and I spent a good amount of time making this layered coffee cake with piped icing. I remember feeling all happy about how it turned out. And I guess that’s when I fell in love with cooking. And this was the exact same dish I made in the initial round of the MasterChef contest where they asked us to make something that was a dear memory.
Even during the seven months that you were away from home for the ‘MasterChef Australia’ contest, it must have been tough to stay away from your children in a somewhat restricted set-up. How did you manage that?
It was tough. I went in thinking I’m not going to last the entire contest and that somewhat helped me hang in there. Towards the end I was torn between wanting to go ahead in the contest and wanting to go back home to be with my family. I managed to handle it solely by taking each day as it came. The episode where MasterChef brought in our families as a surprise, asking us to cook for them, was one of my favourite moments in the show.
How did you handle the pressure of cooking in the ‘MasterChef’ kitchen?
To be honest, I kept reminding myself that it’s just food and it’s just a contest. Many times I felt incredible nervous energy before a challenge, so yes the pressure was there. One of the things that helped me a lot was being a mum. Especially when you are a mum to young kids, there are times when you don’t get sleep one night and the next day you just have to be up and going. And it wasn’t much different on the show. My mantra was “just keep going, it’s just food, it’s not a matter of life and death”, and that helped.
How has winning ‘MasterChef Australia’ changed your life?
The biggest change for me was going from full-time home-based mum to full-time working mum. It also gave me a job dealing with food and people, two of my biggest loves, and I get to do work that doesn’t feel like work. Even now, I’m in India on work, but this hardly feels like work! I do feel blessed.
Before ‘MasterChef’, what was the favourite dish your family would ask you to make for them?
My kids always loved burritos, so that’s what was made by popular demand at home. I don’t know if that’s our favourite but we had to go with the kids’ favourite. Otherwise the standard Aussie family dish is sausages and veggies and we used to have that often. We still do.
After ‘MasterChef’, does your family expect you to cook more gourmet stuff?
Once I got back home after winning the MasterChef title, my kids were actually scoring my dishes and telling me things like “this is not your best dish, Mum!”. Yes, there were slightly raised expectations but I quickly brought them back to reality (giggles). But on a serious note, in the MasterChef kitchen, you get 2 hours of uninterrupted time, equipment and ingredients all laid out for you to put up a dish whereas at home, with the kids around, the phone ringing and other chaos, I’ve got just 20 minutes to put food on the table. So that makes a big difference.
What’s a traditional weekend meal on your family table like?
Our traditional Sunday table would have be a roast, especially lamb. My father was a meat wholesaler and he specialized in lamb—so it was always roast lamb with gravy, baked potatoes, carrots or pumpkin with either lemon pudding or lemon meringue pie for dessert. Those are still my favourite desserts.
You’ve been a teacher, are mum to three children and now you teach children how to cook. How early do you think children can be introduced to cooking and what are the top three dishes you think they can manage well?
I think they can help from the day they can stand up but you should be willing to put up with the mess. When my son was two years old, I stood him up on the table and said “let’s make a cake”, and even at that age he could name the things that went into making a cake.
Young kids can pour, spoon, mix—yes, it’s a bit messy but it’s about sharing that experience with them. Older kids can handle heat, fry-pans and more advanced cooking with adult supervision. Kids enjoy making pancakes. Older kids can help in making vegetable fritters, which I feel is a great way to make them eat veggies. Cakes are a good start, helping with the measuring, stirring, spooning, etc.
My 10-year-old daughter comes up to me on a Sunday morning with the offer of making porridge for the family. So our kids are capable of more than we think they are.
Your book ‘The Sweet Life’ is out. What are your other plans?
At the moment I’m working with the local awarded chef on putting out a product line. I get to work in the chef’s kitchen all day and then I get to pick up my kids from school. It’s totally different from the pressures of working in a restaurant kitchen and the late nights. This way I get to do the things I love and be there for the family as well.
Is this your first trip to India? Do you cook/eat Indian dishes back home? If yes, what’s your favourite?
This is indeed my first trip to India and I’ve been loving the food that I’m tasting here, my favourite being the Indian nachos at Queens (a restaurant in Bangalore)—little crispy discs with yogurt and sweet and sour stuff (she means sev puri). As long as the food doesn’t get too spicy and overwhelm the flavours, I can handle Indian food. As clichéd as it gets, I was given a butter chicken to eat here at the restaurant, but this was nothing like what we get back home. It was that delicious!


Rumana said...

She was a wonderful person to meet:)

terro said...

I liked Kate from the beginning and im so glad she won! she is really blessed with a great husband and cute kids. love you Kate please come to South Africa

saffrontrail said...

Hello Terro :) Welcome to my blog - it was a pleasure and honour to meet her. I realise the finale was aired in your country this week :) Have a good one,

oumaima said...

I love kate shes so sweet and cheerful and very talented im happy she won

From kuwait

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