MasterChef's Billie Is Now Heston's Sidekick - Hope 103.2

MasterChef’s Billie Is Now Heston’s Sidekick

MasterChef winner Billie McKay chats to Hope 103.2's Erin LaMacchia and shares the secret behind her calm composure.

By Clare BruceMonday 17 Aug 2015Hope AfternoonsGuests and ArtistsReading Time: 4 minutes

Listen: Erin La Macchia’s interview with MasterChef winner, Billie McKay.

If you caught any of the latest MasterChef series, you would have noticed one very cool, unflustered competitor: Billie McKay.

Billie McKay, winner of MasterChef 2015

Calm under pressure: Billie McKay, winner of MasterChef 2015.

It was her calmness and poise that ultimately saw the tall, ponytailed 23-year-old crowned winner of MasterChef 2015.

When Hope 103.2’s Erin La Macchia asked Billie where her nerves of steel came from, she attributed them to her mum.

“I’ve had this question a lot, and I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that it’s from my mum,” Billie said. “She’s really a calm, no-fuss person, and has always had a positive attitude, and I really have to thank her for that trait. I’m very lucky.”

She also has her mother to thank for teaching her to cook as a child; by the age of eight she had memorised a recipe for chocolate slice.

The Most Complex Dish In Competition History

Billie McKay cooks winning Botrytis Cinerea dessert

Alchemist at work: Billie cooking her winning Botrytis Cinerea-inspired dessert.

Billie’s calm, no-fuss attitude was an essential ingredient in the MasterChef finale, in which celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal had the finalists cooking the most complex dish in the competition to date.

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Inspired by a grape fungus called Botrytis Cinerea, the dessert consisted of 55 stages and 17 elements – including a citrus sorbet, a red grape dipped in liquid nitrogen, a pear caramel-filled chocolate ball, a sugar ball filled with citrus yoghurt (which normally takes weeks to master) and twigs of churro.

“You’ve blown my socks off,” proclaimed Heston after seeing Billie complete the near-impossible task with her trademark composure.

A Gig With The Mad Scientist Of Food

Billie McKay wins Masterchef

What a prize: Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, at left, gave Billie a job in his restaurant.

Billie, who won $250,000, an Alfa Romeo Julietta and a monthly column in Delicious magazine, told Erin that her Masterchef victory was still sinking in.

“I just feel so lucky and so overwhelmed by it all, it’s been amazing,” she said.

As if her prizes weren’t overwhelming enough, Billie was offered the opportunity to work with Heston Blumenthal at his famous UK restaurant, the “Fat Duck”.

She starts in a month.

“I’m doing a little bit of training first with his other restaurants and then straight into the Fat Duck,” she said. “So I’m a little bit terrified because it’s such a huge name and I don’t really feel ready, but I’m just going to throw myself into it and hope for the best.”

Inspired By Her Childhood

Billie McKay's rhubarb and champagne spider

Inspired: Billie’s dessert based on childhood memories of raspberry spiders.

Billie said the signature style of cooking that she’d developed, was food inspired by childhood experiences.

“In the semi-final challenge I made a lamb dish that was inspired by a roast that mum always cooked,” she said, “and for dessert I made a spider – with rhubarb and champagne – which was also inspired by a childhood memory.”

Her ultimate dream is to come back to Australia and open a modern restaurant with her boyfriend, in a regional town. Her passion for the country comes from a childhood growing up on a dairy farm in northern NSW.

Just A “Basic Home Cook”

MasterChef's Billie McKay serves up another great dish

Learning curve: Billie says she was a “basic home cook” before MasterChef.

Billie considered herself no more than a “basic home cook” when first entering the reality TV competition.

“I was just someone that really looked forward to making dinner every night, and thought about every morning what I’d be cooking for dinner,” she said.

“The people that I met in the competition all shared that same passion and that same pattern of thinking.”

It wasn’t until late in the competition that she realised she might have the goods to win.

“I was really quite nervous throughout the early stages, and I was just cooking food that I loved eating and cooking at home,” she said.

“But getting three quarters of the way through, I sort of started to get a rhythm and a feel of what I really loved to cook. Once you sort of snap into that rhythm, the creative juices start flowing, and you start thinking of new things to cook, and you really find your feet.

“So it’s certainly a process, you don’t start that competition with all of that skill. That comes with being there.”

MasterChef 2016…2 Weeks Left To Apply!

Contestants of MasterChef 2015

Give it a go: You don’t have to be a pro to try MasterChef, says 2015 winner Billie.

She said anyone who loved cooking should consider auditioning for the show. Auditions close in two weeks.

“If you have a passion for food, if you love doing it and you know your basics, or you’ve been practising your basics, just go for it,” she said.

“You just need to have a love for cooking, and a love for learning everything about food. Because that’s what the experience is all about. It’s as much a learning experience as it is a cooking competition.

“Just give it a go. There’s nothing to lose.”

Good luck!