Fresh off MasterChef’s ‘Back For The Win’, Courtney Roulston has jumped straight back into the kitchen to help bring the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation Classroom to families currently home-schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We catch up with Courtney to talk about how MasterChef changed her life, her career and plans for post-iso life.
SDT: You competed in MasterChef season 2 in 2010 and recently returned to cook for the title in 'Back to Win' this year. What was it like being back where it all began?
Courtney: Being back in the MasterChef kitchen after 10 long years was so surreal. It’s such a pressure cooker environment to learn and test your skills, there is no other place like it!
No matter how much I had planned on just having fun this time around, something happens to you the second you walk through the MC kitchen doors.
There are cameras at every turn to nowhere to hide and every other contestant this year has such a big bag full of talent.
SDT: You've achieved so much in between competitions. You're a caterer for the Sydney Swans FC, host your own TV show 'Farm to Fork' and have written two books. What have been some of your highlights professionally and personally?
Courtney: There has been so many highlights over the years, but I think the best thing in general is that I love what I do and get to work on many different jobs and projects within the hospitality industry - there is never a dull moment!
Working for an AFL team is full of highs and lows, but only on my second year cooking for the team, to see them win the 2012 Premiership was something special.
Publishing cookbooks and hosting a TV show is something I never through I would get to do growing up, so that is just the icing on the cake or the reward I guess for all the hard work I put in with my catering and events
SDT: Fresh off the competition, you're now helping bring the classroom into the kitchen with Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation & their ‘Kitchen Garden Program at Home’. Can you tell us more about the program?
Courtney: I'm so excited to be helping bring the SAKGF into homes with the support of Coles. Cooking is such a vital skill that everyone, young or old should know the basics of.
Usually kids would do the program at school which involves growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing recipes together. It’s a great way to show kids how fresh vegetables and fruits are grown and then how to creatively use that fresh produce to create nutritious recipes in the classroom with the aid of teachers. It is a fantastic hands-on way to teach children about seasonality and where food comes from. It's great to get kids started on a healthy lifestyle from a young age and there is nothing more motivating to get kids to eat fresh home cooked food than if they have helped prepare it themselves.
SDT: What are the educational benefits of being in the kitchen?
Courtney: It doesn't matter how long you have been cooking, there is always something new around the corner to learn with ingredients or techniques when working in a kitchen. Particularly for kids there is a range of skills required such as weighing ingredients, counting portions, timing things as they cook, reading instructions and getting hands-on when cooking to see what textures are in our food. Safety is also a big one for kids to learn in a kitchen as there is often hot areas or sharp utensils that they have to learn how to use correctly.
SDT: Do you have a favourite fun recipe that parents could make with their kids during this time?
Courtney: I have been making lots of scones the past few weeks. They are great value, easy & quick to make and only require 4 or 5 ingredients. Kids can add their own twist on a batch of scones by adding lots of different things like berries, choc chips, cheese, roast vegetables or dried fruit and nuts. The Pumpkin & Wattleseed Scones from the SAKGF are delicious eaten warm out of the oven with a little butter.
SDT: What are your plans for life post-ISO?
Courtney: It's such a strange time to really be planning anything, but I think I will start with a holiday.
I love to travel and I have a few places on my list that I would love to visit once the travel restrictions are lifted. Morocco has been on my wish list for a few years. We had also planned on driving the Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles in April of this year, so hopefully we can reschedule that trip for another time.
My fingers are crossed that we can start filming season 2 of Farm to Fork later this year as I love visiting Aussie farmers all around Australia. I have also been having great time filming recipes in my home for Coles, so I think even when ISO is over I will still continue to keep having fun with that.