Julie Goodwin has returned to the MasterChef kitchen after 13 years, but her nerves threaten to get the better of her in episode one.
The long-awaited return of MasterChef promises everything we’ve come to know and love from the series, from questionably wacky dishes, to tear-jerking moments and spirited pep talks.
In an exclusive top-secret preview, news.com.au has copped an early viewing of season 14’s first episode.
The season follows a tried-and-tested fans and favorites format, with 12 MasterChef superfans and 12 past legends battling it out for the win.
OG victor Julie Goodwin — whose name was etched into the hall of fame way back in 2009 — is the most surprising re-entrant into the competition, which has notably shifted from impressive home cooks to jaw-droppingly talented experimental chefs bringing never-before- seen skills to the show.
It’s a leap in scale not lost on Goodwin, who is as charming as ever but a nervous wreck for much of the episode, slicing her finger as her hands shake uncontrollably during the cook for a coveted week one Immunity Pin.
Julie’s emotional comeback
Admitting she feels “intimidated” by the new generation of home cooks, the mum-of-three and grandmother-of-one sticks with family style cooking for the first challenge, choosing to create a Lebanese feast for Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo.
Reflecting on her first MasterChef journey over a decade ago, Goodwin—wearing a string of beads around her wrist not dissimilar to Zonfrillo’s famed set—is doubtful her style of cooking will be a worthy match for the new-age Reynold Poenomo types.
“One of our first skills challenges was chopping onions … You think about the things that they’re doing now, it’s just insane,” she marvels to producers.
“The standard of cooking has gone through the roof.”
The cook sees her nerves overflow at one point, nipping her finger with a knife as she admits she’d “forgotten how shaky” she gets in a challenge.
Presenting her dish to the judges with a noticeably anxious demeanour, Jock quells her fears with a calm word of encouragement.
“I feel that you think that because you are the OG and you were the winner from such a time ago, that you feel as if you’re not at the standard of the years that have come after you,” he muses.
“Classics never get old,” he says as the fans echo that they’re “all here because of her”.
One thing’s for sure, just like Mel, Andy and Jock’s first season as judges in 2020, which similarly starred a host of familiar faces, it’s a delight watching the blend of MasterChef old and new come to fruition on screen.
The judging panel
Mel’s knack for a delightfully cheesy compliment is ever-present in episode one. She even breaks protocol to dash out in her Birkenstocks for a hug after tasting one contestant’s food, with the warm dynamic as refreshing as it was in 2020.
Andy’s vernacular still has an endearingly casual down-the-pub vibe, with the former contestant declaring he’s “pumped” for the rest of the season.
As for Jock, he’s as dapper as ever — even when he shamelessly chugs one contestant’s sauce from the serving jug.
From a “funky” Vietnamese dish one returning contestant worries will be too much for the judges, to “Portugal on a plate” that makes another feel “seen”, there’s representation in spades this season, with a celebration of culture plate-to- flat.
Whether it’s the kooky dentist on a quest to explore her creative side, the TikTok-famous foodie or the larrikin firefighter flexing his muscles in a new way, MasterChef’s first episode units unlikely characters through their love of food.
With such an eclectic cast comes one of the most varied selection of dishes ever seen on the show, including an “ugly” yet complex dish from a favorite and a vegetarian offering that has to be seen to be believed.
Yew MasterChef‘s season 14 premiere is anything to go by, we’ll be salivating every episode.
MasterChef season 14 premieres Monday, April 18 at 7.30pm, on Channel 10