Masterchef winner Billie McKay talks chocolate and flavour pairings
When Billie McKay first walked into the Masterchef Australia kitchen back in 2015, few would have pegged her to be the winner. Quiet and always composed, not many would have read determination, resolve and ambition behind that calm and friendly face. But as the season wore on, Billie began being noticed for her consistency and calmness in the face of adversity. If there is one fitting winner in all of the popular TV series’ seasons, it has to be Billie. Since then, the 26-year-old has spent a year working at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in the UK and has travelled the world experiencing various cultures and cuisines. In Bengaluru for a masterclass as part of the newly launched Societe De Chocolat masterclass series by Fabelle Chocolates, at ITC Gardenia, Billie spoke to us about her ambitions, experiences and food memories. Excerpts from the interview:
What is the biggest trend in the chocolate industry right now?
Dark chocolate is huge right now. That is very evident here at Fabelle.
Unusual flavour pairings you love.
Chilli works like magic. Here, at the boutique, there is a chilli chocolate. It’s called Fire, and it’s from their ‘Elements’ range. It also has some mango through it, so it’s really nice.
Your experience working at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
It was amazing. I was first in the starters section, so I was doing intricate and really detailed jobs. I developed a lot of skill while doing this. Then I moved on to main course, which was also a great learning experience. I had never worked in a commercial kitchen before.
Life lessons from Masterchef.
Back yourself. It was really important in getting through the competition and it’s something you can apply to everyday life.
How has your understanding of food changed since Masterchef?
When I went into the competition, I had a very basic understanding of food. But the contestants you meet are from different backgrounds and so, come with knowledge on cooking different foods and cuisines. I learnt so much from them.
Tips and tricks in dessert making.
Follow the recipe and be extremely careful. Because with pastry, the slightest mistakes make a huge difference.
Best dessert you’ve sampled.
When I was working at The Fat Duck, I tried the Botrytis Cinerea, the same dessert I made in the finale of Masterchef Australia. It has red grapes, a citrus sorbet, a chocolate sphere and blue cheese.
What are your current projects?
I’m still cooking and experimenting. I hold cooking demonstrations every now and then. I’m also experimenting with cheese making at the moment.
When do you plan to open your own restaurant?
It’s definitely on the cards but I can’t say when it will happen. It has been a massive dream of mine, even before Masterchef. Right now, I’m just exploring food and figuring out what I really like.