Life has been a bit of a whirlwind for MasterChef alumni and former bartender Jess Arnott since the show’s final episodes went air revealing that she had come third and scored a prize of $10,000 cash.
Not in the least because she was back in Perth, and two hours behind the studios on the East Coast.
“To do all the morning radio and television I had to be at Channel 10 in Perth at 4.30 in the morning,” says Arnott. “It was so funny setting my alarm for 3.30 in the morning because I’ve seen 3.30 a lot, but never from this side.”
While her days of going to bed at 3.30am after finishing work as a bartender are in the past, the one-time bars&clubs cover girl believes that her bartending skills definitely played a role in how successful she was on the hit show.
“I think that even from the very first judges’ auditions, having done heaps of cocktail competitions, standing up in front of a giant room full of people and cooking with a camera in my face was not as intimidating as I think it was for a lot of other people there,” she says. “Because I’d had a bit of practice at that sort of thing – obviously making drinks and not cooking – I definitely felt more comfortable.”
Arnott also believes that her background in creating cocktails helped her when it came to thinking on her feet during the various challenges she faced.
“I’ve always tried to come up with drinks on the fly for customers, to try to tailor it to them and thinking about beverage in that way helped,” she says. “Actually, one of the biggest praises I got through the whole competition was about how I had a good palate and knew my flavours and knowing how to pack flavour in. I think that definitely came from a lot of practice making cocktails.”
While the whole process of the show was an amazing experience, Arnott particularly loved the barbeque challenge and learning how to smoke meats, while her biggest highlight was that immunity cook off.
“I did an immunity cook with Shannon [Bennet] and got a 10 out of 10 from Gary [Mehigan] for my dish – he’s such a legend, he just gets my food,” she says. “He and I are so similar when it comes to food and eating.”
While Arnott has been back to reality for a little while now, she is still indulging her love of all things cheese and is looking forward to taking it further in the future.
“I’m working at a restaurant in Perth now that has a real focus on cheese and charcuterie – The Flour Factory – so all of the cheeses have accompaniments that are designed to go with them,” she says. “I would to some booze and cheese tastings down the line, so we’ll just see what happens there. Just trying to keep my feelers out for that sort of thing right now – there is definitely a market for it.”
As for what is happening with to her winnings, Arnott says that it will be safely put away in the bank to earn some interest while she and her boyfriend decide what the future holds.
“I think that’s a testament to how much I have grown up over the last couple of years,” she says. “It’s not the sexy answer, but hopefully we’ll be able to turn it into a house or a business somewhere down the line.”