Ballina’s Billie McKay returns to MasterChef kitchen tonight
BALLINA'S Billie McKay will return to the kitchen that transformed her life on MasterChef tonight.
Shortly after winning the 2015 series of the reality cooking show, she landed a dream job at Heston Blumenthal's innovative restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK.
On tonight's show the former restaurant manager will set the first mystery box challenge of this year's series.
"It was so strange; it only really felt like yesterday I was there," McKay told the Star.
"I was really nervous going into the kitchen. I had the same butterflies I did every other time."
McKay spent several weeks choosing the eight ingredients for the challenge, the first mystery box faced by this year's Top 24 cooks.
"I chose ingredients inspired by a few things, like my time in MasterChef and what I loved cooking with, but also foods I've grown up with and food I love cooking with now," she said.
"It's a mystery box full of food that I love."
She believes this year's crop of amateur cooks are even better than her group last year.
"Seeing the food all of them were putting up in their first cook, the plating and the flavours were really exciting. I don't remember putting anything like that up in my first cook," she said.
"It will be a really impressive series.
"My advice to them was to just grab the experience with both hands and run with it. You have to give yourself wholly to the experience to take full advantage of it."
The 24-year-old certainly took full advantage of her time on the show, and says she is enjoying the challenges of working in the prep kitchen at The Fat Duck.
"I worked with one of the other chefs to take over doing one of the courses on my own," she said.
"It was really technical and the level of skill to do the prep needed was just ridiculous. I couldn't get my head around it, but like anything it just took repetition and practice. It's really rewarding to be able to do it now.
"It's a great atmosphere. It's a food wonderland."
MasterChef Australia airs tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 10.