Adriano Zumbo Spills On His Dessert Masters Experience

"Being on the other side of the bench is an adrenaline kick."
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The Dessert Masters kitchen is officially heating up, with the first season of MasterChef’s sweet spin-off showcasing the expertly crafted creations of some of Australia’s most talented pastry chefs.

With the competition well and truly underway, the Dessert Masters contestants were tasked with presenting a unique film-inspired showstopper, complete with complex flavours and flawless presentation. 


WATCH: MasterChef Dessert Masters Promo. Article continues after video. 

Although he may have perfected the overall taste, it was the presentation of Adriano Zumbo’s Grease-inspired milkshake that saw his time in the competition draw to a close. 

WHO sat down with Adriano Zumbo shortly after his elimination to look back on his time in the Dessert Masters kitchen. 

Adriano Zumbo was sadly the third chef to depart the Dessert Masters kitchen. (Credit: Ten)

Throughout the years, you’ve been a frequent guest judge on MasterChef Australia. How would you describe your experience on the other side of the bench? 

It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of pressure, but it was fun. The other contestants are amazing. They’re amazing people, amazing chefs, and amazing talents, so it’s been great to be around them.

Being on the other side of the bench is an adrenaline kick because it’s such an in-the-moment thing and everything is against you in a way. I guess you create your own pressure [based on] the design of what you do, and we’re always shooting for the stars. Time is always the one thing that runs out.

It’s like being in a fast-paced kitchen and you don’t get to breathe for two and a half hours. It’s just sweating, running, and thinking on the fly.

Your desserts are well known for their innovation and creativity, which can certainly take a lot of time and planning. Was it a challenge to spark your creativity while under such a strict time constraint?

There’s no time to trial anything and you just have to do it on the fly. If something doesn’t work, you have to adjust it or get rid of it. Thinking about what ingredients you have to go and get from the pantry is a lot right? There’s a lot of pressure in that sense, but it’s the moment and everyone is in it and you just have to do the best you can while doing all that.

It’s a different style of creativity. It’s freestyle creativity, which I do like, and I do it a lot. The calibre of what you make for work and what you have to make in that kitchen is next level, because you have to put something up that is super amazing and inspiring. [It’s] very hard to do with that kind of pastry, but it’s all possible.

“Being on the other side of the bench is an adrenaline kick.” (Credit: Ten)

While you are judging, you often share helpful advice based on your experience, but did you learn anything about yourself during your time as a competitor? 

I think my style of [baking] probably needs another 30 minutes to an hour to be in a good place. Usually, my MasterChef challenges are three to four hours, so if I had that, there’s no promise that you would have been in any better position, but that little bit of time would have helped to get those ideas across the line a bit better.

I guess you’ve got to be who you are. I thought about a few things along the way after some of the challenges like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do something basic,’ and it just didn’t feel like me. I think you’ve got to stick to who you are because at the end of the day, when you walk out of there, whether or not you’ve hit it 100%, at least you’ve done it doing what you envisioned.

Each of the contestants on the show has a great passion for dessert making, but what do you think sets apart a passionate home baker from a dessert master? Is there any specific quality that gives you an edge?

I just think concept, but also knowing the outcomes of the processes along the way. I think it’s probably just the aesthetic look as well. There’s a little bit of edge that you’ll see that people could probably put together and make it look a little bit more refined.

I think that’s probably the difference between a passionate home baker [and a dessert master]. A home baker – a lot of the time they will be watching YouTube or reading blogs or books and yes, they’ll be able to make stuff, but do they understand it? Most of the time no, but some will because they’ll probably push themselves to want to know more about the process.

It comes from experience for [dessert masters]. Trial and error and being amongst it every day in our jobs. I think that you probably don’t get that experience at home, but there are some amazing home bakers out there and they can do some pretty cool stuff.

“They’re amazing people, amazing chefs, and amazing talents.” (Credit: Ten)

Of the remaining contestants, who do you think will win Dessert Masters? Has anyone really impressed you so far?

I think everyone is amazing. It’s a tough one [because] they’ve all got different personalities and styles, and I think from seeing the way the judges [react], I think it can go anyone’s way.

There’s no sort of distinct style that suits [the judges] and in the end, you’re impressing them, and they have the final call, so it could be anyone. I think they’ve all got a great chance. I’m super pumped and proud of everyone who is still there and putting their heart and soul into making dessert, so it’s good to see.

This interview has been edited for clarity. 

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