Kelly Young has grown from strength to strength since gaining nationwide attention as runner up in New Zealand's first ever season of MasterChef. With her background in health and fitness, Kelly brings her 'uncluttered' and fresh approach to cooking, a style that earned her a position at MasterChef judge Simon Gault's restaurant, Euro. We caught up with Kelly to ask a few questions about her life in the food industry, her inspirations, cooking ethics and future goals. Make sure you check out Kelly MC the Fisher & Paykel Chef's Kitchen at Taste of New Zealand - Victoria Park, 19th - 22nd October.'
There has been a movement towards keeping restaurants honest in regards to where their food comes from, how has this effected your style of cooking?
For sure there has been a massive movement towards where our food comes from. A lot of this has been influenced by the media which drives consumers to become more aware of what they are buying and how it made it to their plates. It does make choosing products more difficult but it also drives you to research more about what you are cooking with and when you do find a good honest company/product you are more likely to stick with them.
As far as using regional suppliers, is it always a struggle to find people who are producing locally?
There has been a massive trend in buying from local suppliers, for some people it can be a struggle to find these suppliers for a number of reasons. Buying local helps the environment, you know it hasn’t had to travel far to get to your plate, you can easily see what sort of practices the business engage and whether they fit your liking, you are supporting your local farmers to become more sustainable, there are a range of products that you may not find in your local supermarkets. However depending where you are based you may struggle in finding a suitable grower that fits your personal liking.
Do you think this is something that turns the home cook off, and turns them immediately to the supermarket?
Well, with the home cook that could possibly be dealing with time, family, work etc all those barriers that we hear of so often these days, turning to the supermarket may seem like a much easier option for some. Some may turn to the supermarket because of lack of knowledge on where, locally, is good to go and which local growers you can actually trust that their produce is local. I believe that the old school community feel that I knew so well as a kid is definitely not the same. As long as the home cook shops for healthy options to feed their families then that’s a great start, from there they can research and ask around what local suppliers are suitable for them.
Does MasterChef seem like an age ago? Do you still draw from that learning experience when creating dishes?
It’s crazy cause at the time I thought Masterchef was going to haunt me for life (jokes) but yeah it does feel like a lifetime ago. A lot has gone on since then which has been just as exciting and challenging. I would have to say I have learnt a lot more in the kitchen since my MC experience which helps me through creating dishes.
Presenting on stage at Taste of New Zealand you're surrounded by some of New Zealand's top chefs and in front of a crowd, do you find that intimidating?
I feel kind of lucky because I get let off the hook with cooking in front of the Taste of New Zealand crowd. Presenting is a much easier task to do and it’s always great to watch and learn some tips and tricks that the chef’s bring out. They love to show off!! hehe
Who is the biggest cooking influence in your life?
I would have to say that my Nana is pretty up there. There is nothing better than good old home cooked meals (old school styles) that are full of flavour using good basic ingredients.
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