He behaves like an ordinary 17-year-old—playing with his mobile, swinging around on an office chair and awkwardly flicking the handset on a nearby desk phone.
But Flynn McGarry is up to something extraordinary. And he has been for years. By the time he was 11, McGarry was a budding cook who plated up 14-course tasting-menu meals prepared in what was once his bedroom in the San Fernando Valley, just north of his native Los Angeles. The charge: $US160 a head.
These were no slapdash dinner parties, but lavish affairs that drew the attention of media and local foodies. Within a few years, he’d earned apprenticeships in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Norway. “Everything has been a stepping stone,” McGarry told WHO last February when he visited Melbourne to film an episode of MasterChef. “I’ve always wanted to work in high-calibre, Michelin three-star restaurants.”
He’s certainly on his way—McGarry is widely known as “the Justin Bieber of cooking,” and joins A-listers like Nigella Lawson, Maggie Beer and Kylie Kwong as another of MasterChef’s big gets this season. The offer to appear, he says, “seemed like a no-brainer. It’s an honour to be in that group.”
In tonight’s episode, the remaining contestants will take a crack at McGarry’s signature “beet Wellington” dish. For McGarry, watching others tackle the complicated recipe left him “stressed out the entire time … I was worried.” But, he previews, “at the end of the day, they surprisingly pulled it off.”
As for trying to impress a renowned culinary idol who isn’t even old enough to be drinking yet—how did the contestants handle that? “They were happy about it,” shrugs McGarry. “I don’t know how much of it was true, though, because they knew I was part of deciding who goes home!”
MasterChef Australia with Flynn McGarry airs tonight at 7.30PM on Ten.
To read more on the cooking wunderkind, pick up a copy of this week’s WHO Magazine, on sale now.