“My Initial Response Was No”: Why Acclaimed Pastry Chef Kirsten Tibballs Decided To Enter The Dessert Masters Kitchen

Kirsten Tibballs didn't think she'd go on Dessert Masters. It's understandable, after all, she's a powerhouse in her own right. Her own chocolate and patisserie school under her belt? Check. President of the jury for the World Chocolate Masters Competition? Check. Her own cooking program, cementing her title as 'The Chocolate Queen'? Check. The accomplished pastry chef and chocolatier already oozes success from her bones.
With such a resume, it's understandable that she'd be apprehensive about going on a cooking competition — especially one where you're expected to go head-to-head with some of the world's best. "My initial response was no", Tibballs tells Refinery29 Australia. "I didn't think it looked good for me to compete."
But a few defining factors helped her change her mind. The first was Amaury Guichon (one of the most famous pastry chefs and chocolatiers in the world), who is judging the show alongside Melissa Leong and as Tibballs says, is the fairest, most skilful and best judge for a show about desserts.
"If I was going to have anyone judge me, I knew that Amaury would judge each dish on its own merits. He understands all the techniques used."

"My initial response was no. I didn't think it looked good for me to compete."

Kirsten Tibballs
But cooking on the silver screen can breed self-doubt, even in the best and most accomplished of us. Tibballs admits that she was worried about what people would think if she didn't come away as the season's winner. But instead of letting that get the better of her, she tried to transform it into a learning opportunity.
"I decided this might be a great example for people who are a little bit nervous about attempting something [or] worried if it doesn't work out. I thought, you know what, I'm gonna do it for myself and not worry about what other people think," she says.
As any parent might relate to, it was her son who also helped influence her decision to go on Dessert Masters. "I thought it might be a great example to other people, but I also wanted to show my son that it's good to be vulnerable and put yourself out there. You may not succeed but as long as you do your best, it's okay."
Even from short one-minute teaser trailers, it's easy to see the positive and bubbly energy radiating from all contestants in the Dessert Masters kitchen. The first season will see ten acclaimed pastry chefs competing in the kitchen to be named Australia's first ever 'Dessert Master'. The cast includes familiar faces such as Anna Polyviou, Jess Liemantara, Adriano Zumbo, Reynold Poernomo, Kay-Lene Tan, Andy Bowdy, Morgan Hipworth, Rhiann Mead, Gareth Whitton, and of course, Kirsten Tibballs.
Tibbals maintains that Dessert Masters is unlike all the other cooking shows on Aussie TV. "I think there's more jeopardy with Dessert Masters — the fact that we are all professionals. There's also a lot more artistry in desserts than there is in cuisines (sorry to all the chefs out there)," she says.
"I think it's going to have the audience on the edge of their seats. We do try to make things that defy gravity or have an explosion inside when you cut into it. There's so much more you can do with chocolate and sugar and patisserie than you can with meat and veg. Sorry!"
"I wouldn't be surprised if Dessert Masters runs for years and years to come."
MasterChef: Dessert Masters premieres at 7:30pm on Sunday, November 12 on Channel Ten and 10Play.
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