Tag Archives: masterchef australia

  • Jacobs_Creek_Dinner_Christina_Soong-2

    Our Table with MasterChef’s Andy Allen and Jacob’s Creek

    A little secret about dinner parties: while the food and wine you offer your guests is important, they’re not nearly as important as the mood you set.

    As a dinner party veteran I’ve hosted plenty of dinner parties where I placed far too much emphasis on making everything look and taste perfect, and far too little emphasis on making sure I was relaxed and calm when my guests arrived.

    Even if you’ve never hosted a dinner yourself, I’m sure you can relate to a time when you went to someone’s house for dinner, and found yourself confronted by a visibly stressed or anxious host. I’ve been that host and I can tell you that it’s no fun at all for either you or your guests.

    So when Jacob’s Creek approached me about having MasterChef Australia’s 2012 winner Andy Allen over for an #OurTable dinner with Jacob Creek’s wines I decided the relaxed approach was the only way to go. So I roped in my boyfriend to help with the preparation and asked my BFF and her hubby and my sister in law to join us. My brother was away on business at the last minute, unfortunately.

    The day of the dinner party dawned hot and humid – it was 39 degrees Celsius in the shade. So we kicked off the night with Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir, natural oysters with lime wedges, olives from Coriole, my mother’s pâté with brandy and crunchy cornichons.

    Jacob's Creek MyTable Dinner


    The obligatory photo with Andy before we start eating.

    Note to self: when being photographed next to an ex basketball player always remember to stand on a box…


    Oysters are one of my ultimate foods.

    I like oysters prepared all kinds of ways — see my Oysters 4 Ways for some recipe ideas — but eating them naturally with a simple squeeze of fresh lime juice is sublimely good.


    As we enjoy the appetisers we admire my BFF’s 4-week old baby. Isn’t he adorable? What a gorgeous smile!


    After a short intermission it’s time to prep the main course. Tonight we’re eating BBQ steak, grain salad and roasted sweet potatoes.

    I always like to involve guests in the dinner prep so I put the guys in charge of cooking the steaks.  I expect Andy to take the lead but he humbly demurs, which is how my boyfriend ended up cooking steaks for a MasterChef!

    Back in the kitchen, I put the final touches on my favourite grain salad and plate up the beautifully caramelised sweet potatoes.

    By now it’s dark outside so we take our seats in the dining room.

    Tonight we’re drinking Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Signature Shiraz, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon.




    We eat and we drink and we talk and we laugh. We catch up on each other’s news and Andy entertains us with anecdotes from his time on MasterChef Australia. Winning the 2012 MasterChef  competition was a truly life-changing experience for the former electrician’s apprentice and he has nothing but positive things to say about the show.

    Another short break to clear the table and then it’s time for the Strawberry and Basil Granita and the cheese board.

    I serve up the refreshing Strawberry & Basil Granita into indiviudal bowls. But by the time I grab my camera there’s nothing left to photograph as all the bowls have been scraped clean! So go look at the photos I took last week of an earlier batch.

    I’ve chosen cheeses from Say Cheese & The Smelly Cheese Shop to go with the wines we’re drinking tonight. So sitting perfectly at room temperature on the cheese board are a buttery brie — Cremeux D’Argental —  Delice de Poitou, a young Goat’s cheese with a slightly tangy, salted ash coating, a strong Tasmanian Cheddar — Ashgrove Farm Cheese — and a sneaky English blue – Colston Bassett Stilton. Admittedly, the blue doesn’t go that well with the wines but I couldn’t resist its pungent allure.



    Good food, good wine and good company are a potent mix so we continue talking, laughing, eating and drinking until late.  Although I’ve eaten far too much cheese I feel great – tonight has been so much fun!

    Thank you all for coming. Whose turn is it to host next?

    Jacob’s Creek Our Table Dinner with Andy Allen

    The Menu

    The Wines

    Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Jacob’s Creek. 

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    Meet a Food Lover: Billy Law (A Table for Two & MasterChef) + giveaway

    Billy Law is that guy from MasterChef Australia. Or that guy from popular Australian food/photography/travel blog, A Table for Two. Yes, that guy, the cool Asian-Australian with the cheeky grin, infectious energy and fondness for checked shirts.

    But now Billy Law is also that guy who published a cookbook.

    Have You Eaten? is Billy’s first book and it covers his culinary journey from growing up in Ipoh, Malaysia, to landing in Sydney, Australia and learning to cook. It’s a gorgeous book full of mouth-watering photography, eye-catching design and Billy’s trademark enthusiasm.

    Like Billy, my father was born in Malaysia (Penang) and came to Australia to study. So Billy’s book was a poignant read for me as it featured so many great Western dishes as well as Malaysian favourites like Curry Laksa, Har Mee (Prawn Noodle Soup), Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice) and Char Kway Teow (Fried Rice Noodles).

    Curious to learn more about the man behind the book I recently asked Billy a few questions.

    Congratulations on your first cookbook, Billy! How did it all come about? 

    Thanks Christina! Remember I first met you earlier this year for Tasting Australia in Adelaide? I met my publisher Paul McNally exactly at the same event two years ago and became good friends. I didn’t tell anyone that I was on Masterchef last year, then he saw me on TV cooking up a storm and next thing I know I received an email from Paul asking me whether I’d be interested to write a cookbook with Hardie Grant. The rest is history. It all happened very fast; we started the project in Oct 2011 but then everything has to be put on hold during Christmas season. In Jan 2011, that’s when everything was going ahead in full swing and it took me five months to write, cook, test, photoshoot everything until is finished. It was hard work but rewarding, especially when I have to cook at least 15 recipes a week!

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    Australian MasterChef finalist Alvin Quah accused of plagiarism by Rasa Malaysia’s Bee Yinn Low – UPDATED

    Australian MasterChef series 2 finalist, Alvin Quah – he of the funky white glasses and cropped ‘do – has been accused of plagiarising a recipe by Bee Yinn Low from Asian food blog, Rasa Malaysia, on his own blog, Cinnamon Pig.

    Rasa Malaysia is the biggest independent Asian recipes site on the internet, receiving 2.5 million page views and 600,000+ visitors per month. Low’s first cookbook, Easy Chinese Recipes, has just been released worldwide and went to #1 on Amazon.com’s chinese cookbook category.

    Quah’s recipe for Black Sesame Dumplings in Ginger Syrup, posted July 2011, bears a striking resemblance to Low’s Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan), posted April 5th, 2009.

    Two hours ago, On Monday 3rd October at approximately 10am Adelaide time, Low tweeted this from her @rasamalaysia Twitter account:

    @cinnamonalvin WOW u took my Black Sesame Dumplings recipe, copied it word-by-word w/ minor changes & made it on national TV with no credit?

    Quah immediately tweeted back:

    @rasamalaysia hey bee, is it a mistake? I promise it’s mine. No copying here. Mum use to make it for me.

    But Low was not convinced it was a mistake, tweeting back:

    My recipe: bit.ly/8aCJz. @cinnamonalvin ‘s recipe:cinnamonpig.com.au/?p=1260.Ur mom wrote the recipe the same way as I do, word by word?!

    This was shortly followed by:

    Guilty as charged, @cinnamonalvin has just blocked me.

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