Meet the contestants competing on MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises

Get to know the new stars cooking in the MasterChef kitchen this season..
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not Christmas, but for reality TV fans it may as well be. MasterChef Australia returns to our screens in a matter of weeks, when judges Andy Allen, Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong will introduce us to 18 new hungry home cooks hoping to take out the title and $250,000 prize money.

WATCH: Alice makes her debut on MasterChef Australia 2023

These 18 contestants will cook up a storm in the iconic MasterChef kitchen, with Channel 10 promising fans will see “jaw-dropping dishes” and “surprises aplenty” when the new season premieres in May.

In keeping with the theme of thrilling surprises, international super chef Jamie Oliver has been revealed as the first special guest judge of Season 15.

“I’m very, very excited to be back in the MasterChef Australia kitchen, and honoured to be kicking off the new season of Secrets & Surprises alongside Jock, Andy and Mel,” Jamie says.

“I want to give the contestants some little nuggets of advice, some techniques and some thoughts most importantly, that might help them to navigate some of the big moments ahead.”

jaimie oliver masterchef australia 2023
Jamie Oliver joins judges Andy Allen, Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong on MasterChef Australia. (Credit: 10)

Jamie kicks off an illustrious line up of guest judges throughout the season, including Curtis Stone, Maggie Beer, Rick Stein and Peter Gilmore. So, the pressure is on for the new contestants! 

Scroll through to meet the aspiring chefs competing this season on MasterChef…

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Yes, folks, he’s back. Former contestant Brent Draper returns to MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises.

Brent stepped away from the series in 2021 in order to prioritise his mental health. Since then, he’s worked hard to change his family’s lives – hitting the road with his wife and young son to travel around Australia and enjoy the simple life.

Now, he’s ready to return to the MasterChef Kitchen for a second shot at the title. 

“It’s not about the stumble, it’s about the comeback!!” Brent shared on Instagram. “I couldn’t be more stoked to be back in the kitchen this season having another crack at it.”

masterchef australia 2023 alice
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Described as an “academic at heart,” Alice has a Harvard degree and a Stanford Master under her belt. But she’s long held a dream of entering the culinary world – and she’ll stop at nothing to get there. 

In a first-look teaser, Alice is seen getting creative in the MasterChef kitchen. She plates up “her own invention” in the hopes of wowing Jamie Oliver with a unique dish.

“So much of my work is the brain, and food is the heart,” Alice tells Jamie in the trailer. “And I would love to marry the two.”

While we’ll have to wait and see what culinary delighs Alice whipped up in the kitchen, it’s clear Jamie was a fan as he’s seen telling Alice: “Oh wow, I’ve never had anything like that before.”

Ralph masterchef 2023
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Ralph is an auditor who uses the kitchen as his creative outlet away from work. He loves Italian cuisine – but he also can’t wait to sare his Zimbabwean food, culture and traditions with the judges.

He’s described as the ultimate relaxed contestant in the MasterChef kitchen. Until Jamie Oliver arrives. 

Known for his love of Italian food, Jamie’s arrival threw a spanner in the works for Ralph, as seen in the teaser trailer. Serving up a Ricotta and Egg Yolk Ravioli, Ralph tells the cameras “I’m very nervous right now.”

WATCH: Ralph meets Jamie Oliver in the MasterChef kitchen. Story continues after video.

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larissa masterchef australia 2023
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“There’s never been a MasterChef contestant like Larissa,” the teaser trailer reveals of this contestant. 

Larissa is set to serve up a melting pot of cultures – with Jamie seeming very impressed with her skills in the teaser.  With Ukrainian and Russian heritage, Larissa’s grandparents resettled in the Xinjiang region of China. She then spent time working in the USA and South Korea, further broadening her palette and culminating in her unique cooking style. Her dream is to one day open a small cooking school.

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Melbournian doctor, Adi Nevgi would have been in the MasterChef kitchen a lot sooner if it weren’t for the global pandemic. This year, however, she has reduced her workload to pursue her MasterChef dreams. 

The self-taught chef has a particular love for her ancestral Indian cuisine while being inspired by flavours from all over the world. She plans to write her own cookbook as a guide for beginners. Adi believes that her determination and unflappable nature will help her achieve her goals in the competition – despite her weakness in baking.

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Antonio, originally from Venezuela, migrated to Australia in 2015 after being encouraged by his grandmother, Mamachua, to follow his passion and pursue MasterChef. Despite Mamachua’s passing during the pandemic, Antonio is determined to honor her memory through his cooking.

With strengths in desserts, pastries, Italian and Asian cuisine, barbeque techniques, and South American flavours, he hopes to open a patisserie with his mother to share his creations in a warm, communal space.

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Proud Iwaidja man Robbie Cooper has made a name for himself in the Northern Territory Football League, playing nearly 300 games for the Darwin Buffaloes and Nightcliff Tigers. He has also worked in construction and trucking and spent two decades in the juvenile justice and adult corrections system as a guard and program coordinator.

Despite his successes in other fields, Robbie has always had a passion for food, especially his unique style of “Aboriginal Asian fusion” cuisine that blends traditional Indigenous ingredients with modern Australian flavors. Robbie’s ultimate goal is to offer food experiences on country, where people can camp, fish, cook, and learn about the world’s oldest continuing living culture.

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Growing up in an Italian family, Malissa was exposed to the joys of cooking from a young age. She honed her culinary skills while working at her parents’ fruit and vegetable store and drew inspiration from her Nonnas and mother.

Nowadays, as a clinical nutritionist, she combines her love of Italian cuisine with her expertise in women’s health to promote healthy lifestyles through better dietary choices. Malissa’s passion for cooking has also inspired her to publish her own cookbooks and feature in a cooking series showcasing simple, affordable, and healthy recipes that prioritize nourishing the body from within.

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Growing up watching MasterChef, Amy has been inspired by the show’s home cooks for years. Now, with her own apron, she’s ready to learn, grow, and inspire others. Amy is a self-proclaimed food nerd and loves to try new things. She works in medical administration but has explored her passion for food through content creation and pop-up dining experiences.

Her cooking idols include Jamie Oliver, Paul West, and MasterChef’s Pete Campbell. As a a big fan of anchovies, she also dreams of opening a tin fish wine bar featuring sustainably made tinned fish products.

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Cath’s passion for cooking was reignited when she watched Julie Goodwin’s return to the MasterChef kitchen for Fans & Faves. After years of dreaming about it, Cath finally took the leap and applied for the show.

Her love for food is evident in her collection of over 100 cookbooks, which includes a wide variety of cuisines. Inspired by her food idols, Cath dreams of opening a café that offers high tea and cooking classes for all ages.

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Jessica Perri is a passionate home cook with a deep love for Italian cuisine, especially pasta. She learned to cook from her two Nonnas at a young age, and has since been inspired to continue the family legacy through food. Her dad’s vegetable garden also played a significant role in her love of produce and cooking.

An optometrist by trade, Jessica considers the kitchen as her creative outlet. She hopes to pursue her passion for food and inspire her children to take risks and chase their dreams.

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While a chippy by trade, Declan is a passionate cook at heart. Despite being one of the youngest contestants on the show at just 24, he knows the value of hard work and is not afraid to put his head down throughout the competition.

Describing himself as an eccentric cook, the tradesperson is inspired by many cuisines, with seafood being his firm favourite. With trouble-shooting part of his usual day-to-day on the building site, he won’t let the pressure of the MasterChef kitchen phase him. His dream is to open his own seafood restaurant, and he hopes to inspire other young tradies to get into the kitchen.

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Grace Jupp is a multi-talented 24-year-old with a passion for cooking. Growing up in Queensland, she spent countless hours in the kitchen with her mum and Baba, who instilled in her a deep admiration for produce. Inspired by her Croatian heritage, Grace hopes to showcase such flavours for the judges.

Grace’s husband, a former chef, has also provided much inspiration in the kitchen, introducing her to a new world of food, flavours and techniques. She predicts that desserts and vegetables will be among her strengths in the competition, alongside her positive attitude. 

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Italian-born cook Andrea Puglusi possesses a cooking style strongly rooted in his heritage. Growing up in a large family in Turin, his love of cooking was inspired by his dad and Nonna. His family’s ownership of a café provided him with an early immersion into the hospitality industry, leading him to work in various roles, including venue manager and bartender.

For Andrea, participating in MasterChef is all about pushing himself to see what he is capable of, and he hopes to refine his dessert skills. In the future, he would love to open a tapas wine and cocktail bar in a tropical location, combining two of his great loves.

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Phil is a competitive and passionate cook from Galway, Ireland. His love of cooking started in the kitchen with his nan, where he learned how to make her famous apple tarts.

Phil became passionate about fitness and made it his career, but the pandemic allowed him to spend more time in the kitchen, reigniting his love for cooking. He is highly competitive, and believes that hard work trumps all. He plans to take on the judges’ feedback while having fun along the way.

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Rhiannon brings a bright and sunny energy to the MasterChef kitchen. The mother of five and grandmother from Townsville has always put others first but is now ready to pursue her food dreams.

Rhiannon’s biggest inspiration in life was her mother, who was a chef and taught her everything she knows in the kitchen. Her mother’s words of encouragement to apply for MasterChef make her spot in the Top 18 all the more special. Known for her love of fresh produce and Asian flavours, she considers bold, punchy flavours her secret weapon. 

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Rue’s passion for food began in 2014 with her first fine-dining experience in Sydney. Since then, she has been constantly inspired by restaurants and tries to recreate her favorite dishes at home. In 2021, she took a break from her career to start her own macaroon business, perfecting her recipe over 10 months.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Rue admires her parents’ grit and determination in moving their family to Australia when she was 15. She is an adept dessert chef but equally confident cooking savory dishes and is eager to refine her skills in both areas.

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Theo Loizou has always had a passion for bread baking, which led him to quit his job as a sparky in 2019 and move to France to work in a boulangerie. His Greek and Cypriot heritage influenced his love of food, where he grew up watching his parents and grandparents cook in the kitchen.

As an intuitive cook, he prefers to rely on his instincts rather than strict recipes, and he is excited to showcase his Greek heritage on the show. Theo is hardworking and plans to keep his head down, learning as much as possible during the competition. 

Stay tuned for more updates as the rest of the cast is confirmed. MasterChef Australia: Secrets & Surprises premieres May 1 at 7:30pm on 10 and 10 Play.

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