It could be said cooking plays second fiddle for some actors, athletes and celebrities, who spend their lives on the road eating out of catering trucks, ordering UberEats or grabbing whatever from room service menus in hotel rooms.
The lucky few who make it to the top of their game don’t have time to shop, cook delicious meals or craft a nutritional high-performance diet for winning on the field or in front of the camera.
Well, here’s a fast Celebrity MasterChef fact for the week.
Former AFL St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt, 39, can cook.
And with some gusto. Move over, Heston Blumenthal!
Riewoldt, married to Texan Catherine (they have three young sons, James, William and Teddy), is a self-confessed “psycho competitor”.
Facing an egg challenge on Sunday night (previously it was mac and cheese), he came up with a delightful dish, which he just happened to cook very calmly under pressure.
It’s a dessert called sweet and sour “dippy eggs” and soldiers and it requires a lot of whisking of lemon curd, making a solid biscuit soldier, pouring the mixture into delicate half eggshells, and then creating an Italian meringue top.
TVBlackbox’s Steve Molk tells The New Daily most football players “could normally steam you up a mean chicken breast and not much else. They have opportunity and privilege, but rarely does that extend to the kitchen”.
“It’s probably no surprise that Nick or any footy player of his calibre has something up their sleeve,” he said.
Riewoldt’s not the only dark horse on this, the second reincarnation of the Ten show, first hatched in 2009.
He’s leading the pack of 10 contestants (they are all cooking for a $100,000 prize to donate to charity), kicking goals ahead of the some of the other stars who are less familiar with a kitchen stovetop or oven.
Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, comedian Dilruk Jayasinha (loves fried chicken), Back to the Rafters actor Rebecca Gibney (hers is spaghetti bolognese) and Eurovision contestant and 2013 X Factor winner Dami Im (Korean soup) also look like they know their way around a kitchen.
Dinnigan, who spent the year in Italy in lockdown, told Gourmet Traveller on October 14 it’s “all about the food and wine”, and a perfect meal is roast chicken (which she has already cooked for the judges) with “tomatoes with salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil, fantastic sourdough, crunchy bread crust, all mopped up with some aged parmesan cheese and a good glass of Barolo”.
It’s also a done deal that British TV presenter Tilly Ramsay (daughter of Gordon, who runs some of the challenges) knows the pots from the pans.
Then it’s time to get a little nervous.
Enter five-time Olympic gold swimmer and star of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics commentary team, Ian Thorpe, who has travelled the world for his sport, admitting he’s often ordered room service, and orders the Japanese version of the club sandwich when he visits.
It looked delicious to eat (and there was a side of potato chips), but as Ramsay yelled out virtually from the UK: “Who the f–k microwaves bacon?” when he spotted Thorpey take a shortcut to the machine instead of the pan.
On the upside, he does love cooking, has always been a food lover, and “wants to win”.
“I love that you are preparing things for people that you care about”.
For some – Matt Le Nevez “I can fry an egg” and reality TV veteran Chrissie Swan – the egg challenge was a little more difficult to master.
And former Socceroo Archie Thompson, who admitted he’d love Colonel Sanders at his next dinner party after growing up with a “bucket of chicken”, says he now loves the “traditional surf and turf”.
Part of the Nova 100 breakfast hosting panel alongside Sam Pang and Jonathan Brown, mother of three Swan didn’t quite cook her coconut cake enough nor finish off a simple quiche lorraine (the bacon has to be mixed through the egg mixture, not sprinkled on top).
The first to leave, she brought light, love and honesty to the kitchen even for just a few hours.
Is it a good career move going on Celebrity MasterChef?
For some, definitely. It gives viewers an insight into their favourite celebrities, and an appreciation [aka relief] that not everyone, even famous Aussies, can pull together a seven-course degustation menu.
Molk agrees it’s a harder concept to pull together than the “normal people” version “because ultimately you’re protecting your celebrities”.
“There won’t be producers pushing them for a big story or big emotional reveal. You pretty much have to work with what they give you.
“On the plus side, they are all performers and have varying levels of media savvy, so some will deliver heaps while others will be death.
“The MasterChef format ultimately wants everyone to succeed, so in this we want the celebs to succeed too.
Sportsbet puts Tasmanian lobster and scallop lover Riewoldt ahead of the game as short-priced favourite to win at $1.22, and Thorpey, while used to coming first, is sadly last at $26 to win.
Celebrity MasterChef Australia is on Sunday and Monday at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play on demand.