MasterChef Australia Judge Melissa Leong Reveals 'The Big Hero' Of Food During Lockdown

Alicia Vrajlal
·Editor, HuffPost Australia
·3-min read

Since filming of ‘Junior MasterChef’ wrapped up earlier this year, Melissa Leong has enjoyed peeling back to basics in her own kitchen and enjoying some simple and easy-to-make pleasures.

According to the TV personality and food writer, it’s all about channelling “some fun and childhood comfort”.

“I think we all need that,” the 38-year-old told HuffPost Australia, reflecting on what’s been a very unexpected and challenging year for many amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everything is a little bit different to how we probably envisaged it to be,” she said.

'MasterChef Australia' judge Melissa Leong poses for <a href="https://www.lexus.com.au/senses-electrified" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Lexus</a> after being announced as the luxury car brand's new ambassador ahead of the Melbourne Cup carnival (Photo: Supplied )
'MasterChef Australia' judge Melissa Leong poses for Lexus after being announced as the luxury car brand's new ambassador ahead of the Melbourne Cup carnival (Photo: Supplied )

Melissa said her approach to cooking for others is just “simple entertaining... whether you’re entertaining the kids or it’s when we’re allowed to have one family over”.

“Look up recipes that you can do a day in advance so when you actually are entertaining, you’re not slaving in the kitchen and you’re not worrying about things setting or cooking to the perfect degree,” she said.

“Do that ahead of time and [then] you can actually just be with your people. I think the most important thing we’ve learned this year is to be grateful for our friends, family and the company that we’re able to have within our homes.”

Melissa said her approach to cooking for others is just “simple entertaining... whether you’re entertaining the kids or it’s when we’re allowed to have one family over”.  (Photo: Instagram/fooderati)
Melissa said her approach to cooking for others is just “simple entertaining... whether you’re entertaining the kids or it’s when we’re allowed to have one family over”. (Photo: Instagram/fooderati)
 Melissa Leong with fellow 'Junior MasterChef Australia' judges Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen (Photo: Channel 10)
Melissa Leong with fellow 'Junior MasterChef Australia' judges Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen (Photo: Channel 10)

Melissa is based in Melbourne where some COVID-19 restrictions were eased this week, allowing locals to now meet in a group of up to ten people from a maximum of two households in an outdoor public place to socialise.

“Picnics are the big hero of this half of the year because of COVID,” she explained. “So to be able to prepare delicious things that you can take to the park and enjoy and share with friends is a wonderful idea as well.”

Cold seafood or antipasto platters are her go-to options, plus a personal favourite she can’t get enough of.

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“Picnic classics, bring back the quiche, I say,” she laughed. “In so many ways, the quiche never left. I’ve always been a huge fan so I think things like that are really fun.”

She also recommended people “bring nostalgia” to the spread.

“Do your own mini lamingtons or iced VoVos – things like that are really fun,” she explained.

Melissa Leong is now lending her love for food and lifestyle to further projects, one of which is her Lexus Ambassador role, announced today, to bring Melbourne Cup fashions on the field online and make the ‘Birdcage’ virtual with the <a href="https://www.lexus.com.au/senses-electrified" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Lexus Lifestyle Hub</a> (Photo: Supplied)
Melissa Leong is now lending her love for food and lifestyle to further projects, one of which is her Lexus Ambassador role, announced today, to bring Melbourne Cup fashions on the field online and make the ‘Birdcage’ virtual with the Lexus Lifestyle Hub (Photo: Supplied)

It’s been a big year for Melissa, who started as a judge on ‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ earlier this year, and then went on to film the spin-off version, ‘Junior MasterChef’, which focuses on younger cooks aged 9 to 14.

She’s now lending her love for food and lifestyle to further projects, one of which is her Lexus Ambassador role, announced today, to bring Melbourne Cup fashions on the field online and make the ‘Birdcage’ virtual with the Lexus Lifestyle Hub.

Like her food choices, her fashion in lockdown is versatile, personal and in sync with her mood.

“I fully advocate this is the kind of year where if you want to spend a week in tracky dacks then you should absolutely do that if that makes you comfortable and feel good,” she said.

“I think that what also makes me feel good sometimes is even if I’ve got nowhere to go because I’m still in lockdown, putting on something dressy and doing your makeup or putting on a crazy pair of earrings or something... If that makes you feel good, then that’s part of self care isn’t it?”

″[It’s about] self care and doing thing that makes you happy... anything that’s simple, makes you happy and is easy to do and effortless.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost Australia and has been updated.