Masterchef star to debut at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival

Published 8:00am 5 July 2024

Masterchef star to debut at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

After wowing the country with his cooking skills, out-of-the-box recipes, and never-give-up attitude, MasterChef Australia 2023 champion Brent Draper will charm the crowds when he makes his debut at this year’s Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival.

The former tradie, who grew up in the Scenic Rim, will be sharing his hot tips, tricks, and recipes when the festival returns to Woody Point’s Apex Park from August 23-25.

The Moreton Bay Food + Wine festival is one of Queensland’s biggest foodie celebrations, with special appearances by celebrity chefs, live cooking demonstrations, unique dining experiences, pop-up bars and restaurants, food trucks, local produce, market stalls, music, hands-on workshops, and more.

Brent will join a star-studded line-up of chefs including Matt Golinski, Dominique Rizzo, Alastair McLeod, as well as former MasterChef contestants Adam Liaw (2010 winner), and Georgia Barnes (2015 runner-up), plus 4 Ingredients founder Kim McCosker.

“To be asked to attend alongside some pretty big names in the culinary industry is really exciting, especially since I am just a regular guy who loves to cook and who happened to win a reality cooking show,” Brent says.

“I am really pumped to see all the local produce and use it in my dishes, and even stock up on a few things to take home with me.

“The family will be coming with me and when I’m not onstage cooking, we will be out trying everything we possibly can.”

The former boilermaker won hearts when he battled it out in the MasterChef Australia kitchen not once, but twice, staging an epic comeback after making the difficult decision to leave the competition in 2021 to prioritise his mental health.

“It was the perfect storm of so many things happening around me and not being able to deal with it properly,” Brent explains.

“My mum had a blood clot in her lung two months before I left for MasterChef and she died for seven minutes, but thankfully the paramedics were able to bring her back.

“She was taken to hospital and was placed in an induced coma for a couple of weeks.

“There was also COVID, and there were lots of rules around quarantine and filming.

“I did two stints of quarantine and in that time my grandma passed away. I had the choice of leaving to attend her funeral, but if I did, I wouldn’t be allowed back, so I ended up staying.”

The added pressures of filming, missing his wife and young son, as well as the internal pressure of feeling like “there was no other way to escape the tradie life” caused Brent’s mental health to spiral.

“I didn’t know what anxiety was because I had never experienced it before, so my mind made it out to feel like a physical feeling,” he explains.

“I was convinced I had liver disease for some reason – that’s just what my mind picked – because it didn’t make sense to me that it was mental, so my brain made me think it was physical.”

After numerous discussions between his wife and producers, Brent made the decision to leave.

“They told me 'It’s OK Brent, put your hand up and tell the judges what you need to do and just follow their lead', which I did,” he says.

“What you saw in that episode was 100 percent real – there was no editing or trickery.

“I was at my last tether and had to get out of there and get some help.”

Brent withdrew from the competition on June 13, 2021, allowing him to spend time focusing on his mental health and travelling around the country with his family.

He was later invited to return to the competition, which he won!

This time, Brent stuck to a strict routine which included running 10km every day, unwinding in a cold shower, and meditating – all before he even went into the kitchen to cook.

“I didn’t want to slip back to where I was before, so that routine was really important,” Brent says.

“I was like a machine every single day, and I went through and bloody won it!

“I wanted to go back not just for me, but to also show people that with a little bit of hard work, you can come back and face your demons.

“It’s not about the fall down, but how you get back up.”

Born at Beaudesert Hospital, Brent can recall pretending to be a chef on his family’s farm in Boonah as a young child.

“I used to chop up little bits of grass and flowers and mix them in a little bowl and tell people what I was doing, but of course nobody was there,” Brent says.

After leaving Beaudesert State High School, Brent moved to Brisbane and started his apprenticeship.

Fed up with wasting his money “on things like pizza and going out,” Brent decided he was going to learn how to cook by watching Huey’s Cooking Adventures.

The tipping point that changed his life forever came during his smoko break, when he got fed up with the lunch bell in the workshop.

“The bell at work always annoyed me because it told me when to start, when to finish, and even when to eat,” Brent explains.

“One day it went off and I hadn’t finished my sandwich, which really annoyed me, so I applied for MasterChef then and there.

“I didn’t watch the show, but my in-laws did, and they were always telling me I should apply.

“It was that 30 seconds of courage which changed my life forever.”

To book tickets, head to the Moreton Bay Food + Wine website.

Masterchef star to debut at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival

Under the grill: Up close and personal with Brent Draper

Q: What are some essential ingredients you think every home cook should have in their pantry or fridge?

A: I am going to say soy sauce, canned tomatoes - because you can cook a million things with them - a really good extra virgin olive oil, and chilli oils. A spoonful of that really elevates your dishes.

Q: What is the one food thing you hate running out of at home?

A: I’m not a sweet tooth but I do love a nice little bowl of ice cream some nights, but I have a five-year-old who keeps eating all of the ice cream. I will open the freezer and see the container is still there, and think we don’t need to buy any more, but when I go for a bowl, it’s always cleaned out!

Q: Which do you think is the superior sauce and why? Tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, sweet chilli sauce, or Worcestershire sauce?

A: I’m going to go barbecue sauce because when you’re barbecuing, you can do so many different things with it. Followed by Worcestershire, then tomato and sweet chilli, which I am not a fan of.

Q: What food combo sounds weird to others, but you find amazing?

A: While on MasterChef, I was going through this weird stage of doing wacky herbed ice creams, which were delicious. I made mustard ice cream and fig leaf ice cream.

Q: What pub style meal do you prefer – a juicy steak or a chicken parma?

A: The steak every day, but it’s gotta be cooked though!

Q: What is your favourite meal when celebrating a special occasion?

A: I am going to give you two. I love a good old Sunday roast. Growing up, the old man was a gun at cooking a roast, whether it be chicken, beef or pork. I knew when we had a roast, there was going to be a big table, lots of food, and everyone would be together. However, my favourite meal of all time is steak, chips and eggs – it’s very Aussie!

Where you can say hi to Brent at the festival

Mark these times in your diary so you don’t miss out on seeing Brent when he appears on The Kitchen Stage presented by Ausbuild:

Friday: 6.15-7pm.

Saturday: 2.50-3.35pm.

Sunday: 12.40-1.25pm.

You can say G’day to Brent after his cooking demonstrations with a special meet and greet session.

Entry to The Kitchen Stage is included in your Festival Precinct ticket.


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