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NMIT hosts MasterChef preliminary heats

16 Nov 2009

Cookery course enrolments at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) are already up on last year, thanks to the enormous popularity of reality cooking show MasterChef.

Much to the excitement of staff and students, the cast and crew of the hit show, including judges Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, descended on NMIT's kitchens last month to film the preliminary heats.

NMIT hospitality teacher Andrew Shepherd says the filming opportunity was offered to several venues, but he pursued it doggedly to make sure NMIT was chosen. “I felt it was a really good thing for us, it has such a high profile.”

Shepherd was responsible for ensuring the crew had the supplies and equipment they needed for filming. He also had to field requests from staff members wanting autographs from local restaurateur George Calombaris, who has become the show's undisputed heart throb.

The selection process was rigorous, with groups of 15 people presenting plates of cold food for tasting every hour during the first two days. There were also group interviews taking place at the conference centre. From these numbers a group of 36 contestants was chosen and their cookery tests filmed at NMIT's kitchens.

As expected there were more than a few surprises plated up on competition days. “There was a lot of 'Franken-food' as George called it, things like blueberry mash which is a really hard flavour to match. There was a lot of stuff that was really out there but you always see that in cookery competitions. It's because of the molecular gastronomy trend,” says Shepherd.

Fans of last year's winner Julie Goodwin will be glad to hear there was also plenty of homely cooking served up, including regional cuisine. “One contestant cooked their mum's Gumbo recipe from New Orleans. There were some really nice dishes.”

Kitchen staff at NMIT can rest easy. Shepherd says the show's production crew was very impressed with the food they were served in NMIT's kitchens during filming.
“They said they'd be very happy to film here again.”

Celebrity MasterChef currently airs 7.30pm Wednesdays on Channel Ten. Season two of MasterChef will air in 2010.


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.