MasterChef Australia’s Minoli De Silva Is About To Open Her Own Restaurant

Image courtesy of Channel 10
MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites contestant Minoli De Silva
If you've missed Minoli De Silva since her rise to fame on MasterChef last year, fret not because you're about to see a lot more of her.
Not only is the 35-year-old back on this year's season — MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites — but she's also on the cusp of opening her first restaurant, so get those taste buds ready!
Speaking to Refinery29 Australia, De Silva reveals that she'll be opening the doors to her Darwin-based restaurant called Ella on June 1 while MasterChef is airing.
"I love this restaurant," the chemical engineer gushes about her new business venture, explaining there are four staff members on the team and the friendly vibe of the eatery will take inspiration from her reality TV experiences.
"In the restaurant I'm even having this little room called the green room because that's where all the magic happens on the show," she says. "Everyone gets along so well [on MasterChef] and I never want to forget last season's experience. And whatever happens in this season, I'm going to try and incorporate all my learnings into the restaurant."
As for the type of cuisine we can expect, De Silva says it's a natural extension of the cooking she's become known for on the TV show — delicious dishes inspired by her Sri Lankan heritage, but with a modern twist.
"It's modern Sri Lankan, or I like to say cosmopolitan Sri Lankan," she says.
De Silva was born in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka before moving to Australia with her family when she was six. Growing up, she cherished the flavours of her mum's traditional cooking.
But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29, De Silva lost her sense of taste during treatment and it was upon regaining it a year later that she realised just how important food is to her. Going on MasterChef in 2021 was an opportunity to showcase her passion for cooking Sri Lankan cuisine and lots more.
While she was knocked out of the competition in the fourth episode, she was lucky enough to earn back her spot in a second-chance pressure test, finishing 10th overall.
Returning to the MasterChef kitchen this year has been a different experience because there are 12 familiar faces from previous seasons going head-to-head with 12 amateur home cooks.
Image courtesy of Channel 10
Minoli De Silva on MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites
Image courtesy of Channel 10
The cast of MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites
De Silva says she was initially starstruck when she met some of the other previous contestants like Julie Goodwin, the franchise's first-ever winner from 2009.
"We've got Julie — who is Queen Julie, and she's literally the nicest person on the planet," De Silva reveals, explaining it was very surreal at the start to be cooking alongside her.
"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."
She says the fresh-faced cooks are also bursting with culinary talent that may give the favourites a run for their money.
"I just don't think that anyone should underestimate the fans, because I was one last season, and look, really I'm still a fan," she laughs. "I think the favourites are all a little bit nervous because we've got a reputation to uphold."
Image courtesy of Channel 10
MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen
Along with Minoli and 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) and Tommy Pham (Season 13).
The fans are Ali Stoner, Jenn Lee, Chris Tran, Daniel Lamble, Dulan Hapuarachchi, Harry Tomlinson, Keyma Vasquez Montero, Matt Landmark, Max Krapivsky, Melanie Persson, Montana Hughes and Steph Woon.
As De Silva says, it's really anyone's game on MasterChef this season, so we'll need to wait and see who impresses judges Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and Gold Logie nominee Melissa Leong.
MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10Play.
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