You may think being some of the most famous pastry chefs in the country wouldn’t rattle the Dessert Masters 2023 contestants in the infamous MasterChef kitchen; however, according to Rhiann Mead, there’s a good reason why the likes of even Adriano Zumbo are seemingly struggling at times.
Speaking to Mediaweek after her November 14 elimination, Mead admitted that there’s a lot of “pressure” given you aren’t in your normal surroundings.
“Firstly, it’s huge. I wasn’t expecting it,” she said of the infamous kitchen. “Whenever I’ve watched it in the past, I was like, ‘Why is everyone running around?’ and then when you’re there, just the distance between the pantry to the equipment to the electricals, everything’s so far apart.”
Adding to this, she said that the time crunch was also unpleasant.
“When I think about my day-to-day, I have one dish, and maybe it takes me three days to do different components to that. Whereas we have three hours [in the Dessert Masters kitchen. So it’s a completely different structure to how chefs normally work.”
Rhiann Mead on competing alongside her heroes
For the 31-year-old, competing alongside the likes of Kirsten Tibballs (who also made a piggy bank during the elimination challenge) was something she would never get over.
“Walking into the MasterChef building and being surrounded by people like Kirsten and Adriano Zumbo, these are people who, when I first started off cooking, were people I looked up to,” she said.
“They are people who have set the way the pastry scene is going. And then, just to be in the same company as them and being in the same competition is still something that I can’t quite get over. I don’t think I’ll still come to terms with how incredible it was to be there.”
Mead, who has worked as Head Pastry Chef at Bennelong under the tutelage of Peter Gilmore, also explained that at times she felt somewhat “out of place”.
“There’s so much that I want to achieve and I sort of feel like I’m just starting out on my journey,” she revealed. “So, it’s easy to have those self-doubts and feel a little bit out of place compared to these legends who just seem so confident and who have so much experience behind them.”
Even though she’s seen smashing success in the Australian pastry scene, Mead admitted that she gained a lot from the experience.
“It’s given me a lot more confidence,” she said. “I think that’s something I’ve always sort of struggled with a little bit. And so, it was about reminding myself that I was there and in incredible company. I didn’t lose my cool even when I was super stressed. I react as dramatically as I thought I would!”
Dessert Masters 2023 continues at 7.30 pm, Sunday – Tuesday on 10 and 10Play.