“We’re Literally A Family”: Anna Polyviou Says BTS On Dessert Masters Was As Sweet As You’d Imagine

Often known as "the chick with the pink mohawk", Anna Polyviou is hoping her new stint on Dessert Masters will be one to remember. The award-winning pastry chef is hard to forget — you might remember her from her regular spots as a judge on Masterchef Australia, an appearance on Season 9 of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, or of course, her pink mohawk.
The switch from setting pressure tests to competing in them is a change that might put off many people, but not Polyviou. "It's so boring being a judge," she jokes. "But then to be on the other side… it's a different feeling. It's a really fuzzy feeling."
Being a first-generation Australian, Polyviou says her Greek Cypriot heritage has influenced her love for food. "Food is my love language and I think I was able to show that while I was cooking," she tells Refinery29 Australia. "I'm a feeder, I'm an entertainer, I'm a typical Greek."
But it's hard not to notice her punk aesthetic and how this might contrast with her craft as a pastry chef, at least at first glance. Polyviou cites her rebellious attitude as one of the key reasons why she's such a successful pastry chef. "I am a rebel, I am breaking the rules. I break all the rules you can imagine," she says.

"I am a rebel, I am breaking the rules. I break all the rules you can imagine."

anna polyviou
"What I did do well at school was attention seeking, naughtiness and never following any direction. And I think pastry can be the exact same thing. Yes, there's a form of discipline per se. But there's also the other side, where you can be creative and naughty, and be yourself and an individual."
"The pink hair, the mohawk, the piercings — it's just me being me. I'm not trying to be anyone else other than me."
The Dessert Masters 2023 cast includes familiar faces such as Kirsten Tibballs, Jess Liemantara, Adriano Zumbo, Reynold Poernomo, Kay-Lene Tan, Andy Bowdy, Morgan Hipworth, Rhiann Mead, Gareth Whitton, and of course, Anna Polyviou. While being side-by-side with some of Australia's most accomplished pastry and dessert chefs might be off-putting, Polyviou maintains that, more than anything, the show was an exploration of diversity in the kitchen. "Everyone's different. Everyone's got different skills. Everyone's got different techniques," she says. "My goal was to go in and challenge myself."
While Dessert Masters is technically a cooking competition, it's surprising that at most times, it feels like anything but a competition. Polyviou recalls how during filming, the cast would come around to go "grocery shopping" in her apartment because she had an organised pantry stocked with gelatine, purees, and chocolates. "They would come and grocery shop at mine, then Andy [Bowdy] would come in and just sit on the couch." She also tells us about how her castmate (and Masterchef Australia alum) Jess Liemantara would cook for the cast after filming wrapped for the day.
It's the nature of the hospitality industry that breeds this kind of close relationship, Polyviou says. In fact, much of the cast actually knew each other prior to being on the show together. Polyviou tells us that castmate Kirsten Tibballs is a good mate, Rhiann [Mead] used to work for Polyviou, and fan-favourite Reynold Poernomo is actually a family friend of hers. "I'm good friends with his mum," she tells us.
Jess Liemantara has previously cited Polyviou as one of her culinary inspirations — something Polyviou does not take lightly. "I really respect Jess because she's displayed a lot of different skills and techniques that I haven't seen." She says that at many points, she was actually the one asking Liemantara questions during cooks.

"We're not friends anymore. We're literally a family."

anna polyviou
The closeness is clearly palpable across the whole cast. "After the show, we just became so close," she says. "We've formed a family. We're not friends anymore. We're literally a family."
At its core, Polyviou hopes that Dessert Masters will be a shining beacon of light given the dark circumstances of the world currently. "What's going on around the world is really sad and horrible," she says. "I think the fact that we can bring a show that's gonna have good energy and is just feel-good and [something] everyone can watch together — I think it's gonna be great."
Polyviou maintains that the special ingredient to Dessert Masters' success, much like MasterChef, is its absence of drama. "That's not what it's about. It's to inspire our next generation of pastry chefs, and to also showcase how talented Australian pastry chefs are."
"There was no arrogance. There was no pettiness in there. It was just a humble kitchen, making a humble apple pie."
But if there's one thing Polyviou is hoping to gain from appearing in the Dessert Masters kitchen, it's that she might finally become a household name. "I'm hoping that this time around, people will know my name and not just [know me as] the pink mohawk who can cook great desserts."
Can Anna take the crown? We'll find out.
MasterChef: Dessert Masters premieres at 7:30pm on Sunday, November 12 on Channel Ten and 10Play.
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