Jess, your elimination was just heartbreaking to watch! Have you received a lot of support since the episode aired?
It’s been really lovely, I think I was really overwhelmed. Obviously it was aired yesterday and I had to relive the moment and there was time when I sat down for a moment and had a really long weep. It’s really weird because we filmed it a while ago and at that moment I was like ‘I can’t believe it’s affecting me again.’
What made it even tougher was the fact that you couldn't even give everyone a hug goodbye.
The week I got eliminated, that whole week it was like ‘You can’t be too close to each other, you can’t touch each other or hold each other,’ so I was like ‘Oh no, this is not going to be good.’ It is very devastating but it’s ok because after all of this I’m going to give everyone a really big hug.
You seemed to be close with so many people and so many contestants have said how much they'll miss you. Who was the hardest to say goodbye to?
I think it was really hard to say goodbye to the Audreys- which is Brendan and Reece- and Sarah Tiong who was my closest friend in the entire competition, we’d been through thick and thin together. I only just got to be close with Reynold as well and Poh. All of them really – it’s sad to say goodbye and it was the same feeling when I had to say goodbye in season 10. It really felt like a family going away.
At 22 you were the youngest contestant on the show. Did you feel a lot of pressure having that label?
I definitely felt it in the first episode of the show. Obviously in the tasting I was feeling really overwhelmed and everyone was doing amazing – which they should be – and I was looking at my dish and it was nowhere near perfect. I felt that being the youngest I had so much more to learn, but coming off it I realised that everyone has their bad days and good days and it just takes time to grow and learn from it.
What was it like finding out about the coronavirus pandemic on the set of a reality TV show?
Obviously we filmed a big chunk of the show when COVID wasn’t about and we were in this bubble where we didn’t know anything that was happening outside of it. As soon as we entered and had to be prepared for it, it was like ‘Oh this is for real.’ It really took a turn, I think a lot of people were feeling it too - they had to think about that on top of being in a challenge so it was tough on a lot of people.
Was it tough off-camera as well?
We all lived in apartments that were two per room and there’s so much more room to be social distancing. It is a bit hard when you live in the same area but everyone’s respectful of each other and everyone’s very good about it.
Unfortunately you didn't make it to top 10, but who would you love to see win this season?
It’s a really hard one but there are four people I would love to see win the competition and that’s Brendan, Reece, Sarah Tiong and Reynold. I think those four definitely deserve to make it very far in the competition.
You, Brendan and Reece call yourselves The Audreys, where did that nickname come from?
We had a challenge in Sydney and at the airport I bought all three of us a little monkey keyring and the monkey keyring was called Audrey so we just called ourselves the three Audreys.
What's next for you? How are you spending your time in isolation?
During lockdown I think it was the perfect chance for me to work on my branding and models that I’ll finalise. I’m hoping to find a venue to open up a cooking school if COVID restrictions go down and YouTube is in the corner a bit. Little steps in each different area – I’m just hoping to see the best result in the next few days.
You blew everyone away with the instant noodle challenge. Do you have any tips for those of us who aren't so skilled in the kitchen to make them extra delicious?
There are so many things you can do with noodles! All you need is a lot of good vegetables – I always like gai lan (Chinese broccoli) because they’re much crispier and also having a sous vide to make a beautiful poached egg, that’s all you need. Or even drop the egg in a really hot broth of noodles, it’s amazing.