GET TO KNOW: JESS HODGE29/09/2021
Hi Jess! It’s great to have you with us, Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Jess. I’m 37 from Sydney. I was a contestant on MasterChef 2021. I am a passionate cook who loves the Australian Landscape. I draw inspiration from the land, using native ingredients to create delicious dishes that push the expected but are distinctly Australian.
After leaving MasterChef, I began a trip around Australia in a vintage caravan with my family – partner Emily and twin 4-year-old boys Arlo and Lucca. As a family we are experiencing the breadth of what this country has to offer, learning about food and culture as we go. I have been enjoying pushing the caravan kitchen to its limits!
Yum! If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
I am a Landscape Architect and Urban Designer so when not cooking I would definitely be doing that. I love designing spaces for people, much the same way I love cooking for people to enjoy. My love of native ingredients has come from my love of the Australian Landscape and seeking ingredients that belong to this beautiful country.
Tell us about one of your career highlights.
Being a contestant on MasterChef 2021 was a highlight of my cooking career. It was the conduit that allowed me to transition from Landscape Architecture to cooking and nurtured my skill and ability to cook with natives. It sparked a passion that has only become more intense after the show has finished.
What are you loving about local produce at the moment?
I am on a journey of discovery with native produce at the moment. The flavour is so distinctly and uniquely Australian. I am enjoying learning as much as I can about each ingredients’ flavour profiles, where they grow and how they were used traditionally.
Native ingredients can work as bold standalone flavours or can pair exceptionally with other natives or exotic ingredients. I love experimenting with using natives in other familiar dishes such as curries, broths, and desserts.
What’s your favourite native Australian bush food to cook with?
I can’t go past Wattleseed. I love its versatility to work equally well in sweet and savour dishes. The taste is familiar, yet unique in its complexity. A close second is pepper berry. It has taken a while to harness the pepper berry flavour but now I love using it as a subtle addition to any type of dish.News, Chef's Hub