MasterChef Australia’s Justin Narayan: Food and Hospitality Have Always Been in My Culture, Learnt to Appreciate it More

Being a contestant of MasterChef Australia, arguably one of the biggest and most real competitive cooking shows in the world, is a huge honour in itself. To be a consistent performer in high-stress situations of the show is a different feat altogether. Justin Narayan, touted to be one of the best contestants in MasterChef Australia 13, has time and again won the judges and the audience over with his performance.

Justin, who is a first-gen Australian with Fijian and Indian heritage, started cooking at the age of 13. His expertise has been well documented in his MasterChef Australia journey as he continues to wow judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo with his work.

In a free-wheeling chat with News18, Justin opened up about his journey on the show so far. “It is a very humbling experience and I am absolutely honoured to be a part of it. I’m going to be a sponge and try to enjoy as much of it as I can,” he shared.

Justin has managed to build a huge fan base because of his style of cooking, composure during high-stress situations and creativity. Fans have enjoyed watching him perform his tasks in many episodes. But when we asked about his favourite experiences on the show, he said, “One of my all-time favourite dishes was the charcoal chicken and toum, it’s super delicious and reminds me of a lot of good times with a lot of good mates. My favourite challenge was definitely cooking at Andy’s Three Blue Ducks restaurant. That kitchen was unreal and running a real service, very addictive.”

Before participating in MasterChef Australia 13, Justin was a youth pastor. When asked what inspired him to take a leap of faith, Justin said, “I don’t think it was too big a jump. I absolutely loved what I got to do before – it was a way to service people, make them feel loved, create community and hopefully inspire them to do something they love and being on MasterChef gives me all the same opportunities and more.”

Justin credits his grandparents for inculcating the love of food in him. “Growing up I was constantly around food, mum or grandma were always cooking because someone always seemed to be coming over. So I guess food and hospitality have always been in the culture of our family so that was a pretty good initiation. Growing up I absolutely loved watching cooking shows and so did my grandparents so that was the little thing that we would always bond over,” he shared.

Justin has talked about his Fijian and Indian heritage on the show. When asked about the influence of his cultures on his culinary skills, Justin admitted that he had to grow up to truly appreciate them. “It’s interesting because I think growing up it was a little embarrassing bringing food that was different to everyone else. I think like every other kid, you just want to fit in. But luckily since then, I’ve learnt to appreciate my culture more so I guess MasterChef is my chance to do that on a plate,” he said.

Being one of the top contestants of the show, it is natural to wonder about his future plans after the end of the current season. When asked if he plans to open his own space, Justin said, “That’s a big question. I’ve always loved watching cooking shows so it would be really cool to maybe make one of my own, but (I’m) definitely going to keep learning and try to get some experience in a kitchen and see where that leads.”

MasterChef Australia 13 streams on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.