Masterchef brings a healthy queer contingent to its 2013 season, with 40-year-old insurance underwriter-turned-gourmand Andrew Prior and domestic goddess Christina Batista (pictured) representing culinary queens everywhere on the hit cooking show.
Prior’s passion for food was piqued thanks to a stint in Paris last year, living in the city for nine months while his partner Peter completed his PHD.
“When I came back from that, I needed a job but I didn’t want to go back to insurance. I was sitting at home applying for jobs when I saw an ad for Masterchef – next thing you know I’m on the show,” he told the Star Observer. Dinner parties have always been Prior’s forte, allowing him to hone his culinary skills amongst friends in a relaxed setting.
“They’ve always been my social outlet. In my ’20s I was a party animal, but nowadays, having people over on a Saturday night is what I prefer.”
Prior admitted he was hoping Masterchef would kickstart his cooking career (“one of my goals in life is to be a cross between Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith”), but that he had other ambitions for his time on the program.
“I said to Peter before I went on the show: “I could be bigger than Lara Bingle! Hell, she could be my new best friend!’”
For 31-year-old Batista, Masterchef represents a very public entry back into ‘grown-up world’ after several years spent as a stay-at-home mum, caring for children Damian (nine) and Anabelle (six).
“I was extremely nervous. When you’re a stay at home mum, your brain works differently – my life was all about playdates, reports and after school activities. I was really nervous about stepping away from that and following my own passions for a while,” she said. “I was also really nervous about the kids missing me, but they’ve been fine – I’m not sure how to take that…”
Batista has one of the more fascinating backstories of this year’s crop of contestants – originally married to her children’s father, she and the kids now live with her current partner, Kate. Indeed, it was Kate who took the reins with Batista’s application, filling it out before Christina gave it a final once over and removing a few of the more gushing compliments (“I didn’t want to sound like a complete tool!”). Batista said her own style of cooking involved presenting traditional, much-loved dishes with a fresh twist – be it presentation or flavour-wise.
“My poor children can attest to that, because we’ve had some not-so-successful trials of things. I made fluoro green pasta one time which tasted amazing, but it kind of looked like playdough,” she laughed.
“They yearn for chicken nuggets or a hamburger, but instead they get a deconstructed burger I’ve spent three hours perfecting.”
Masterchef screens Sundays-Wednesdays on Channel 10