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“Best cooks ever”: Meet the 2021 MasterChef contestants

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Foodies rejoice! MasterChef Australia has officially revealed the 24 lucky chefs that’ll be competing in this year’s wholesome and deliciously divine new season. And, if you thought last year’s All Stars were skilled, be prepared for even more greatness with the class of 2021.

WATCH BELOW: Meet the 2021 MasterChef contestants

Beloved judges Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and former WHO cover star Melissa Leong are back as judges and say that this year’s contestants are the best yet.

“I think it’s going to be the best food. Even with Back To Win,” Andy admitted to WHO on the red carpet at the 2020 AACTA Awards.

“I think we’re very short into the season but if these guys are cooking like this now, imagine what they’re going to be doing in 60 episodes. It’s crazy so we’re excited with that.”

The judge and season four winner added: “They’re raw, they’re very passionate, they’re very willing to learn and I think that’s what I think excites us the most. It’s going to be a really good season.”

Keep scrolling to meet top 24 contestants of MasterChef Australia 2021.

Aaron MasterChef
Aaron Sanders, 34, SA (Credit: Ten.)

Aaron

Aaron Sanders, 34, is an Insurance Claims Manager from South Australia who dreams of creating a dinner party restaurant at home, akin to Melbourne’s illustrious Enter Via Laundry, or a cafe serving food from a backyard garden.

With a passion for fishing and a love for native herbs and spices, duck and fennel, Aaron aims to rely on the skills developed from his cooking idols including Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver and MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo.

Amir
Amir Manoly, 34, VIC. (Credit: Ten.)

Amir

Coming out of 2020, Amir Manoly may be the most prepared for MasterChef Australia this season.

The 34-year-old Victorian Construction Project Manager spent his regular Zoom catch-ups with friends during COVID-19 lockdown creating an online mystery box challenge. Putting on the judges’ hat for a minute, he would select seven ingredients and challenge his pals to create a dish in 90 minutes.

Baked eggs, falafels and pickled veggies are staples of the Egyptian-Australian’s home-cooked meals, but Amir dreams of opening a men’s cooking school after the show to improve men’s health.

Brent MasterChef Australia

Brent

Brent Draper is a hardworking Aussie tradie who’s hoping to explore life away from the tools in the MasterChef kitchen.

A 31-year-old boilermaker from Queensland, Brent’s journey with cooking began when he lived in a share house at 18 with roommates who didn’t even know how to turn on a stove. 

His dream is to one day hire a camper van and travel around the country cooking and teaching people how to prepare quick and easy meals, and his happily married to wife Shonleigh.

Conor Curran
Conor Curran, 27, VIC (Credit: Ten.)

Conor

Conor Curran is a veteran in the kitchen, working in restaurants for ten years, and spending two years in a Caribbean neighbourhood in London for two.

Now, at 27, the Victorian Restaurant Manager wants to show off his multicultural culinary skills, including Greek techniques, South East Asian, Middle Eastern and Mexican cousins.

He hopes to one day open up a deli shop named after his Mum, called Sit Down Dora, with a hidden bar next to it named after his dad, Shut Up Mike. How… cute?

Dan Masterchef
Dan Dumbrell, 31, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Dan

Dan Dumbrell is a bit of a late bloomer in the kitchen, but that won’t stop you from salivating from his dishes.

The 31-year-old Sydney-based Research Project Officer first started cooking when he first moved out of home eight years, going from basic meals to a beloved hobby and Dan’s happy place.

Growing up in Sydney’s southwest and of mixed Chinese and Australian heritage, Dan grew up around Chinese cuisines inspired by his mum’s Guangzhou background, and hopes of starting his own food truck business in the Southern Highlands.

He is supported by Scottish husband Paul, their two toy poodles Bella and Harry, and his mum and sister Eva.

Depinder MasterChef
Depinder Chhipper, 29, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Depinder

Depinder Chhibber may have followed in her father’s footsteps to become a pharmacist, but she’s relying on the lessons from him, her grandmother, mum, and aunties to succeed in MasterChef Australia

Born in New Delhi, the 29-year-old moved to Newcastle at 11 before moving to Sydney but still has a place in her heart for her home country.

Depinder is inspired by Indian and South-East Asian flavours, but also has a knack for cooking pastries and desserts. She is supported by her husband Gurkirat and hopes that her time in the MasterChef kitchen will make Indian food more accessible, with her ultimate goal to write a book on Indian fusion recipes.

Elise
Elise Pulbrook, 38, VIC (Credit: Ten)

Elise

Elise Pulbrook is a 28-year-old lawyer of both Italian and Sri Lankan heritage, and may have only just secured a final apron in the comp, but has a lot of promise and potential.

Like all big migrant families, cooking has a fundamental place at home. Elise fondly remembers as a small child watching her mother, nonna, and great-grandmother making coloured fettuccine. 

After a school trip when she was 11 – and three additional trips as an adult – the lawyer-turned-chef says Japan is like her second home. She’s supported by boyfriend Adam and their pup Tibby.

Eric
Eric Mao, 21, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Eric

Eric Mao is the perfect example of if first you don’t succeed, try again ten years later. 

The 21-year-old medical student first auditioned for Junior MasterChef Australia when he was then and unfortunately didn’t make the kitchen cut, but is coming into the season as one of the most exciting up-and-comers.

Born to immigrant Chinese parents, Chinese cuisine is a big part of his culinary delights. The Sydney-based young adult hopes to share his food philosophy and passion for regional Chinese cuisines – namely Wuxi in Eastern China – with the country, hoping to one day have a pop-up restaurant that combines regional Chinese cuisine with a modern Aussie setting.

Eric is supported by his sister, parents and close family, and was inspired to first audition after seeing Poh Ling Yeow compete.

Jess
Jess Hodge, 36, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Jess

Jess Hodge, 36, is a Landscape Architect who after a cancelled year-long round-the-world family gap year, turned to cooking for stress relief. 

With a focus on learning from Australia’s First Nations Peoples and sustainable food practices, Jess hopes to one day own her own place where she can run a cafe or restaurant using her own produced goods.

Thanks to her well-travelled past, she’s inspired by Mexican, Guatemalan, Sri Lankan, Indian and Moroccan cuisines, just to name a few. She is supported by wife Emily and their three-year-old twin sons Arlo and Lucca.

justin
Justin, 27, WA (Credit: Ten.)

Justin

Justin Narayan is maybe the kindest member of this season’s MasterChef Australia contestants – and that’s saying a lot! 

The 27-year-old Western Australian is a Youth Pastor, eldest of three siblings, and first-generation-born Australian of Fijian and Indian heritage, and hopes to create a fun and safe community and connect with people and his culture in the same way outside as in the kitchen.

Justin hopes to one day launch his own food truck or restaurant using Indian flavours from his youth, where some profits would go towards helping feed and educate children living in the slums of India.

Katrina
Katrina, 25, VIC (Credit: Ten.)

Katrina

Katrina is a 25-year-old Marketing Coordinator who finds that cooking is her “me time,” but hopes to bring that sense of solace and peace to the MasterChef pressure cooker.

Born and raised on a berry farm with her parents and three older siblings, Katrina is a total cooking whiz, selling homemade cakes by five-years-old and making regular family dinners by the time she was 10. 

She’s inspired by her Indonesian Oma, with her audition dish of green eggs and yams being a nod to her paddock-to-plate lifestyle.

Kishnar
Kishwar, 38, VIC (Credit: Ten.)

Kishwar

Kishwar is a 38-year-old Printing Business Owner who, after caring for her family is finally chasing after her dream.

During the auditions, Kishwar won over the judges – and our hearts – with a plate of sardines in green mango broth, served with black lentils, beetroot, and blood orange bhorta. Her dream is to share Bengali cuisine with the country

She is supported by her husband who she met in high-school, Ehtesham, son Mikayle, 11, daughter Seraphina, four, and her parents.

Linda MasterChef
Linda, Sydney, 38 (Credit: Ten.)

Linda

Linda is a full-time mum who wants to bring her mixed Laotian and Chinese-Cambodian heritage to the MasterChef kitchen and prove to her kids that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Her specialities lay in both sweet and savoury, and she’s an avid fan of eating out to try new things to later try to recreate at home.

She dreams of having a South-East Asian food truck and serving bento boxes to open up new dishes and flavours to a larger audience.

MasterChef Maja
Maja, 33, WA (Credit: Ten.)

Maja

Though she grew up on a hobby farm in Tasmania, Maja’s influences are traced back to her parent’s home in Germany.

Learning from her Oma from an early age, the 33-year-old has grown up with fond memories of cooking alongside her grandmother and parents, and her love of food has only grown with her.

Having already realised her food dream, Maja, was the owner of a pop-up market stall that specialised in boutique seafood sausages. Now entering the MasterChef kitchen, Maja hopes to one day convert a vintage Airstream trailer into a pop-up dining experience. 

Masterchef Minoli
Minoli, 34, NT (Credit: Ten.)

Minoli

Sri Lankan-born Minoli has spent her life growing up in the kitchen, learning traditional recipes from her, Minoli also became fascinated with her mum’s ability to transform seasonal fruits and veg into incredible dishes.

Moving to Melbourne with her family when she was six, Minoli continued to cook the recipes she was taught by her mum, and when she later settled in Darwin, fell in love with the tropical climate and fresh produce available in the NT.

The 34-year-old hopes to open her own pop-up restaurant with a focus on Sri Lankan fusion cuisine.

Pete Masterchef
Pete, 36, NSW (Credit: Ten)

Pete

Tattoo artist Pete is hoping to show off a different kind of artistry when he enters the MasterChef kitchen. Self-taught, Pete, 36, has a love of classic cuisines and, through his extensive travels, has sampled fine dining restaurants across the globe with his wife and daughters.

Hoping to one day open a wine bar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Pete’s ready to take on every challenge the judges will throw his way.

Sabina MasterChef
Sabina, 21, TAS (Credit: Ten)

Sabina

Sabina has grown up with MasterChef in her life. When she was eight she watched Julie Goodwin take the title as the very first MasterChef winner. Walking into the kitchen with Julie’s signature in her vintage copy of MasterChef Australia The Cookbook Volume One, the 21-year-old added three more signatures as she was signed into the competition herself.

With a passion for meat and seafood, Sabina hopes to one day own her own restaurant in her home of Tasmania where she’ll be able to highlight sea to table cuisine of her own.

MasterChef Scott
Scott, 40, QLD (Credit: Ten)

Scott

With an impressive collection of almost 350 cookbooks and 100 food magazines, Scott loves the way you can communicate through food.

With food always at the centre of his childhood, the 40-year-old has grown up ready to tackle any culinary challenge that comes his way, even making the cake for his sister’s wedding – and then making 12 additional cakes; one for every table, of course.

Hoping to one day open a cooking school and patisserie, Scott hopes to live out his food dream of combining his passions; food, design and education.

Therese
Therese, 31, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Therese

Though she’s always loved cooking, Therese has only recently begun to flex her creative muscles in the kitchen, creating stunning desserts that are not only visually impressive but ridiculously delicious.

While she wowed the judges with her magical audition dish, Therese, 31, also wants to bring her Taiwanese and Burmese heritage to the table with savoury flavours and hopes to one day start a line of pre-packaged dessert boxes and Asian-fusion noodle sauces.

Tom
Tom, 24, NSW (Credit: Ten)

Tom

Tom has been in the kitchen since he was six-years-old. Learning to BBQ and fish from his dad, and inspired to cook by his mum and older sister, the 24-year-old has grown up learning to finesse his skills in the art of intricate desserts, hoping to one day build his reputation as a renowned pastry chef. 

Inspired by his grandmother, who came to Australia from India, Tom also has an interest in Indian cuisine, but his travels across the world have introduced him to many food cultures he takes inspiration from.

MasterChef Australia Tommy
Tommy, 31, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Tommy

Tommy’s audition dish may have won the judges over, but it was his emotional call to his mum that got the rest of viewers on the verge of tears. Inspired by his mum’s home-cooked meals, citing her as the best cook in the world, the 31-year-old celebrates his Vietnamese heritage by recreating the recipes she taught him.

While he’s heading into the MasterChef kitchen, Tommy hopes to one day combine his loves of food and travel, documenting food cultures from across the globe and sharing them with the world.

MasterChef Trent
Trent, 23, VIC (Credit: Ten.)

Trent

Much like his cooking, Trent’s vibrant and fun approach to the competition is going to be one to watch. Taking inspiration from fantastical elements and nature, the 23-year-old’s signature tarts and cakes are sure to be showstoppers.

Hoping to one day write a column for a food magazine, Trent’s creative approach to sweets will be paired with the foundations of cooking he learned from his mum growing up. 

Wynona
Wynona, 27, NSW (Credit: Ten.)

Wyona

This isn’t Wynona’s first shot at getting into the MasterChef kitchen, having applied two years ago she may not have been successful then but it did give her the push to begin her own food blog.

Now, proudly part of the Top 24, Wynona, 27, is ready to show off the skills she’s learned through the years and her extensive travels across Europe. 

YoYo
YoYo, 19, SA (Credit: Ten.)

YoYo

This year’s youngest competitor, Yonina – aka YoYo – isn’t going to let her age get in the way of her reaching the MasterChef finale. The 19-year-old grew up learning the basics from her parents, spaghetti marinara from her dad, and sweets and desserts from her mum, and her grandparents taught her how to wrap dumplings and make scallion pancakes.

Not only is YoYo skilled in the kitchen, but she’s mastering six instruments (and hopes to add two more to her repertoire) and is a second-year medical student, so there’s nothing she can’t accomplish once she sets her mind to something.

MasterChef Australia airs on Sunday to Thursday nights at 7:30 on Channel Ten.

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