Andy Allen: "There's no worse feeling"
Andy Allen’s TV persona has skyrocketed in 2020, but the MasterChef judge admits that businesswise, it has been the “hardest and most challenging [period] in my whole career”.
As a co-owner of the popular Three Blue Ducks restaurants, Andy, 32, has been involved with the heartbreaking decision to shut some of their venues during the pandemic.
“To see what you work so hard for get ripped out from underneath you, and to constantly have so much uncertainty around it, has been extremely tough,” Andy admits to New Idea.
“There’s no worse feeling, so I’m looking forward to overcoming it all.”
While some of the restaurants have been able to continue trading, Andy reveals his next goal is to get the entire business operation back up and running.
“It may not sound very exciting, but it would bring the biggest smile to my face,” says Andy.
Outside of work, the travel lover says that taking an exotic holiday is also high on his agenda once things go back to normal, with the restaurateur hoping to get “on a plane to go anywhere with good food and warm weather”.
Melissa Leong: "I'm terrified!"
Melissa Leong shot to fame in 2020 as one of the new trio of MasterChef judges.
But outside the TV land bubble, the food critic admits that the coronavirus pandemic has made this year a “terrifying time”.
Although Mel, 38, tells New Idea that she has been “fortunate enough to be working through most of it”, she is acutely aware that many of her friends and colleagues in the hospitality industry are going through the most difficult period of their life – including her restaurant-owner husband, Joe Jones.
“It has been a terrifying time for the hospitality industry, and the landscape will have changed a lot because of it,” says Mel.
“I feel it every day at work, being with Jock and Andy and hearing about how they’re navigating their own businesses. So I see first hand how this has affected people close to me in a palpable way,” she adds.
As the path towards restaurant re-openings nationwide continues, Mel says she plans to do her part “by putting my money where my mouth is”.
“I will be eating out,” says Mel, adding she plans to patron “businesses of friends who own restaurants and bars and live music venues. And I suggest we all do the same if we want these things to exist at all”.
She’s also looking forward to being able to dine with friends and family again.
“Food is universal. It brings us together regardless of cultural background, status or creed.”
From a personal perspective, the Melbourne-based host also revealed that the self-isolation experience has uncovered some valuable life lessons.
“It is a time that has taught me to be grateful for what I have,” explains Mel.
“Gratitude is crucial. I find it is more beneficial to focus on what you have and you’re grateful for it, rather than being resentful for what you don’t have that you want,” she adds.
Outside of filming Junior MasterChef, Mel says she’s kept herself busy during lockdown by ensuring there’s always plenty on her to-do list.
“I’m constantly writing, undertaking interviews and working on other projects in my downtime,” says Mel.
“But there is always time for balance. I am taking this opportunity for exercise, health and self-care.”
Jock Zonfrillo's agony: "Separated from my daughter!"
Jock Zonfrillo and his wife, Lauren, have a new baby due at any moment.
However, the soon-to-be father of four has another of his children in mind when the world ‘returns to normal’ – his eldest daughter, Ava.
“[I want to] fly to Sydney and see my daughter,” Jock, 44, tells New Idea.
Up until recently, border restrictions have prevented Jock from travelling interstate from either his adopted Adelaide hometown or from MasterChef HQ in Melbourne to visit his 19-year-old daughter.
Meanwhile, Jock acknowledges that professionally, it has been “hard to watch” the devastating toll that lockdown restrictions have had on restaurants.
However, the rising TV star also reveals he has seen some silver linings emerge.
“There are a lot of my mates working on new projects – some of them are passion projects, others are business-related,” says Jock.
“Restaurants never sleep, so this is the first real break a lot of us have had,” Jock says.
“I love being at home without any plans.”
For more stories like this, pick up the latest issue of New Idea, on sale now.