When most of us die-hard fans think about MasterChef, we can't help but cast our minds back to the OG superstar of the popular reality TV show: Julie Goodwin. Since winning our hearts in the show's first-ever Aussie season back in 2009 when she defeated Poh Ling Yeow, Goodwin has become a household name in Australian television and the food industry.
Now, she's back to compete in MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites, where 12 familiar faces from previous seasons will go head-to-head with 12 amateur home cooks.
Given Goodwin's prior experience in the MasterChef kitchen, plus 13 years in the biz since then, it's easy to assume that her latest TV venture will be a piece of cake. But according to MasterChef judge, Melissa Leong, the competition is very hot this season and even Goodwin is nervous about returning to the game.
"Julie walked into the kitchen absolutely quaking in her boots," Leong tells Refinery29 Australia, explaining that the fresh talent in the kitchen is not to be underestimated.
"Because she knew that in her season what she needed to win was so full of love — and continues to be — but in terms of refinement and technique, what people are doing now just at home for fun versus what she needed to win are very different things."
"She's literally grown up watching the show for the majority of her childhood," explains Leong. "And what she's cooking at home just for fun for her friends would blow your mind. So, bringing that level straight off the bat as an amateur into the kitchen has its own impressive nature."
Minoli De Silva, who returns to the show as a 'favourite' after appearing in last year's season, was initially starstruck when she met Goodwin during filming.
"We've got Julie — who is Queen Julie, and she's literally the nicest person on the planet," De Silva reveals.
At the start, she says it's surreal. "But after the initial shocks died down, you realise that everyone's just normal. Everyone is so down-to-earth, and they've all been in this process before and weirdly enough, you're one of them."
Along with Goodwin, the other favourites include Billie McKay (Season 7), Sashi Cheliah (Season 10), Alvin Quah (Season 2), Michael Weldon (Season 3) Mindy Woods (Season 4), Christina Batista (Season 5), Sarah Todd (Season 6), John Carasig (Season 7), Aldo Ortado (Season 10), Minoli De Silva (Season 13) and Tommy Pham (Season 13).
With the promise that the bar is set pretty high this time around (even for Goodwin), we can't wait to see what will get dished out this season.
Watch the latest promo below that features a glimpse of dessert king Reynold Poernomo making a surprise return:
MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites premieres on Easter Monday, April 18 at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10Play.