Celeb chef Nagi Maehashi joins the MasterChef judging panel

The RecipeTin Eats founder reveals the secret to her success, plus bonus insight into the other judges' goings on
Nagi Maehashi in the MasterChef kitchen, background blurred

Since quitting her day job in corporate finance to launch her website RecipeTin Eats in 2014, Japanese-born Aussie cook Nagi Maehashi has become a culinary icon, with her online platform attracting millions of visitors every month and her books topping the charts thanks to her simple yet flavourful food ideas.

And now her fame is going next level, with Nagi, 46, stepping into the MasterChef Australia kitchen as a guest judge – an experience that has left a lasting impression.

“I had a blast filming with the MasterChef team after I got over my nerves,” she tells. “It was actually just so much fun to see what goes on behind the curtain and watch the magic of such a big show! I love it because it has all my favourite things. It had clever home cooks, innovative recipes and expert foodies as the judges. Tick, tick, tick!”

Nagi Maehashi holding up her cookbook beside dog Dozer
Taste-tester Dozer’s tummy is growling already!

Nagi was seriously impressed with the talented competitors.

“I loved, loved, loved working with the contestants,” she says. “I had a blast. They are such an incredibly talented group of cooks. I have no doubt we’ll see some big things coming from these guys soon.”

During Nagi’s visit to MasterChef HQ, there’s a Mystery Box challenge inspired by her bestselling book Dinner. “The challenge saw the contestants given an abundant, generously filled box of goodies, but with limited time to make magic happen – which are elements that I incorporate into a lot of RecipeTin recipes!”

She also felt warmly embraced by the judging panel, Andy Allen, Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli, who she says make “such a great team”. Nagi adds, “Once I got over my nerves and stopped worrying that I’d somehow ended up on the wrong side of the bench, it was a total blast!”

Nagi admits she wouldn’t rule out returning to the show – maybe even as a judge one day!

Nagi Maehashi holding a plate of food beside golden retriever Dozer

“I had so much fun and enjoyed every moment, so never say never,” she says. Nagi adds that it’s a crazy situation to be in.

“Ten years ago, when I launched my website, I had two whole readers – my mum and me! It was hard and I was worried that I was making a huge mistake. Everyone thought I was mad. For years, people would ask, ‘When are you coming back to the real world?’

“I would have laughed in your face if you told me it would one day get over half a billion hits per year. But the thought of giving up never crossed my mind. I’m grateful that the site and Dinner mean so much to so many people.”

And Nagi adds that she wouldn’t be where she is today without her beloved golden retriever Dozer, who often acts as her “taste-tester”. She laughs, “Without Dozer, I’d be nothing – he’s the cutest right-hand man there ever was!”

How Jamie saved Andy

Andy, Jamie and Andy's wife sitting around a round table with wine and food
Andy and his wife Alex with Jamie.

There is no question Andy Allen had the hardest task coming back to the series after his mate and mentor Jock Zonfrillo’s tragic death. In a new interview, the 36-year-old chef says he almost didn’t return to the show, but a special meal in London with his mate Jamie Oliver, 49, got him through the tough times.

“We sat there for four hours,” recalls Andy. “It’s been a friendship that has blossomed off that dinner. For him to come back and be part of MasterChef this year was incredible. He wanted to do it for Jock and he wanted to support me as well.”

Is Curtis the new Gordon?

An image of Gordon Ramsay edited beside an image of Curtis Stone in the MasterChef kitchen
Curtis was called a “jerk” for copying Gordon.

Aussie hunk Curtis Stone faced criticism for his grumpy demeanour when he appeared as a guest judge on MasterChef Australia.

One viewer commented, “Maybe Curtis is trying to edge into Gordon Ramsay’s territory? Doesn’t look happy to be here at all.”

Another added, “Tonight’s episode showcased just what a jerk Curtis Stone is… Disappointing. Contestants deserved better.”

After her pressure test with Curtis, 48, eliminated contestant Sue Bazely, 58, commented, “It’s been a wild ride and I loved all of it, except the cook with Curtis. It’s going to take me a long time to forgive him for that.”

MasterChef Australia screens 7pm Sundays and 7.30pm Monday to Wednesday on TVNZ 2.

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