I’ve been receiving a lot of questions on Instagram ever since the show aired, but I haven’t had the opportunity to answer all of them. I thought it would be a good idea to compile all the questions into one post because so many of the questions overlap. One of the most frequently asked questions was how to start baking as a beginner. It’s so nice to see people wanting to start baking as a hobby so I’m going to create a post on the baking essentials soon…! As for the other questions keep reading!
QUESTIONS ABOUT ME
What is my background and nationality?
I’m Australian! I was born in Australia, but both my parents are originally from Shanghai, China.
8th of May 1999
Painting, figure skating, swimming and baking.
I haven’t had much time to do anything but baking and work recently because I’ve been so busy. If I have time though I would love to put more time into them. I’m not pursuing a career in swimming or figure skating so I’ve decided to invest less time in both.
I don’t have a specific movie, but I love Studio Ghibli and Disney!
Nope, too busy baking!
I love desserts and can’t really choose. If you break it down by category then it might be a bit easier!
Cake: Japanese strawberry shortcake, but baked cheesecake is really good too….
Ice-cream: Vanilla! (classic is always the best, but if I had to choose a flavour it would be mint choc chip)
Cookie: Viennese fingers (is this a grandma preference…?)
Muffin: Apple cinnamon
If I list more categories this list might go on forever…
There are a lot… but I’d say strawberry and matcha are probably my favourite!
When did I start baking and was I inspired by anyone?
I’ve always loved baking and started really young. I’d say around 6 I was baking cakes from boxes of cake mix, and after that it was everything from scratch! I have memories of making almond wafers for everyone around that age, and attempting to bake my own birthday cake when I was about 11. I say attempt because that cake was a failure :’) but at least I tried.
In terms of inspiration, at the beginning I was never really inspired by anyone, especially as no-one in my family baked. But as I started to gain interest I started watching a lot of reality cooking shows like Masterchef, and that was when I really started to get more serious about improving my skills!
A few of the things I started off with. These photos are at least 6 years old now… Always have to start somewhere!
How did I learn how to bake? Did I go to culinary school?
By myself! A lot of bakers I know grew up learning from their grandparents or parents from a young age, but my family had no baking knowledge at all so I turned to books and the internet. Throughout primary school I relied on the cookbooks that we had at home, making random cookies and cupcakes. As I became more curious about baking Youtube was also starting to grow, and that became one of my best learning sources. I am a visual learner, so being able to see chefs and home bakers demonstrate techniques through video really helped me solidify my techniques and grow as a baker. I did consider going to culinary school after graduating from high school , but my parents wanted me to get a university degree before pursing a culinary career so I never ended up going. If I have the opportunity I may still go in the future, but we will see then!
Best dessert I’ve ever made?
Difficult question, but wouldn’t the dessert I made in the grand final be the best?! I wasn’t 100% satisfied with how it turned out but it was the dessert that presented me with a new life full of opportunities and I will always hold that recipe in a special place. If I really think about the best dessert I’ve ever made I’d say that each new creation is my best. As I am still learning and improving, every time I make a new dessert I build on that knowledge, refine it and create something I’m proud of!
What inspires the desserts I make?
I’d say that the desserts I make are inspired by everything around me, whether that be my friends and families favourite flavours, desserts I’ve seen as I scroll through Instagram and Pinterest, or new desserts that I have tried. I do have to say that I often find myself drawing from the Asian palette, using flavours like matcha and sesame.
Do I make savoury food?
Yes! I love cooking anything, so if I have time I like to make savoury food as well. But, the reason why I make desserts over cuisine is because I enjoy the creative aspect of it more than just cooking.
Am I still going to university? What am I doing now?
I finished my university degree at the end of last year, graduating with a Bachelor of Science majoring in food science and nutrition. My original plan was to continue into a masters of nutrition and dietetics to become a dietitian, however my passion for baking was a lot stronger and I wanted to see what I could achieve! This year is about exploring my love for baking and working towards making a career out of it. So far I’ve been trying to grow my blog to create recipes for everyone as well as inspiring people to bake! It’s only the beginning and it hasn’t been easy. I created this blog from scratch by myself and have had to learn how to build a website, fix glitches, and more… On top of that, trying to create regular content for you guys! It may be a little hard now, but I believe that the end result will be worth it, and seeing people recreate my recipes makes me so happy and proud of my work.
On the side I’ve been continuing my casual job as a waitress at The Rice Den. Running a website and making desserts isn’t cheap, and I need money to get by >< The Rice Den has also presented me with opportunities to create desserts for them and there is more coming! So… that’s what I’ve been working on so far this year and I can’t wait for what else is to come 🙂
A lot of people have been asking me to start a youtube channel to teach about baking. It is an option I've been thinking about, but I don’t have an videography experience and it would be a big project for me to take on. Once my blog is better established I might have a go!
Opening up my own shop?
As a baker opening up my own shop is the dream. I would love to open one up, but before I do I need to improve my skills, gain more experience in a commercial kitchen and save up!
Where do I see myself in the future?
Hopefully making lots of desserts, no matter if thats in my own house or a professional kitchen!
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SHOW
Why did I want to be on the show/ how did I apply?
When I first heard about the show I didn’t even know it was Zumbo’s Just Desserts! I was at a sweets expo when I came across Channel 7 casting for a new dessert show. Funny thing is I actually met Zumbo for the first time there too! I actually didn’t want to apply because I thought I hadn’t refined my skills enough to appear on it, but my mum encouraged me to give it a go… and look where I am now!
What was it like being on the show?
It was surreal… walking onto set for the first time was like I was still watching it through a television screen. On top of that I had the chance to create desserts for Adriano and Rachel to taste and critique, something I never thought would ever happen in my life…
Favourite dessert I made on the show?
I don’t know if this should be one of my own desserts from the sweet sensations tasks or the Zumbo tests, but if it was from the sweet sensations tasks I’d say the moment in time dessert “Don’t cry over spilt coconut milk” would be my favourite. Even though it wasn’t perfect in regards to taste I had the most fun making it. It was also probably the only dessert, besides my very first one, that I had time to refine all the details and get it looking perfect.
If I really think about what my favourite dessert I made on the show was it would be the BBQ from the golden ticket Zumbo test. I actually really enjoyed the Zumbo tests. Despite being SO nervous, being able to create something like that from a Zumbo recipe is not something I get to do everyday… Especially when everything looks like it came straight off a grill!
Most challenging challenge?
There were a lot of challenges throughout the show, but I would have to say the last Zumbo test was the most challenging for me. Not only were we constructing a table out of chocolate, but the pressure of the grand final was really resting on my shoulders. I went through so many highs and lows during that test, excitement as I played with kilos of chocolate, pain as a burnt my hand with isomalt, frustration as my chocolate wouldn’t stick together and disappointment when I realise I hadn’t plated up all my elements. It was a challenge I will never forget.
Is everyone nice in the competition?
YES! The biggest takeaway from the show really was meeting the amazing people. Through the show I made lifelong friendships with all the contestants, we bonded through the struggles during the competition and really connected through our similar interests. You would all be surprised at how much we still keep in touch, the group chat is pinging all day!
Is everything on the show real?
As a reality television show I’d say it is hard to keep everything real, but what I can say is that every moment during our cooks, our struggles and the effort we put in was 100%. During the cook time we all put our everything in to create something that could get us through, impress the judges and most importantly make ourselves proud. Like all television shows there is the post production team that makes the changes and edits, but that’s TV…
How were the interviews filmed?
Usually the interviews were filmed the day after the cook in a small room. The producers would bring up parts of our cook from the other day and ask how we felt about it, and that’s how the interviews were born! If we were short on time we would sometimes sneak out when the two contestants were doing their Zumbo test to film the interview too.
Where did I get my clothes from?!
A lot of people have asked me where I got all my clothes from. Behind the scenes there is an amazing team of stylists that created the outfits for me each episode. I believe they got a lot of the clothes from small boutique asian clothing stores around Chinatown in Sydney, some of which I go to myself 🙂
What did I do with the prize money?
A lot of people ask me this, and the answer is… I‘m saving it! It was after a long journey of sweat and tears that I made it to the end of the competition and I cannot even express how grateful I was for the experience. Being able to make it that far was greater than any dream and I could never use the prize that came from it that easily. I want to save it for something that is going to help me further my career in baking, whether that be going to culinary school, attending workshops, or opening up shop!
I hope I answered all your questions! If you have anything else you are curious about leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you 🙂
CONGRATULATIONS!!! And greetings from the USA! Love the blog its professional, beautiful and elegant, just like your baking! It’s impressive how much you’ve learned and accomplished in such a small amount of time (and you have so much ahead of you)! Your hard work and busy schedule seem to be paying off! Keep up the momentum and good work! We look forward to more posts!! You have an amazing family, friends and fans that support you! If your ultimate dream is to open a bake shop you should go for it! Follow your heart and passion the rest will fall in place!!!
Wishing you the best,
Thank you so much, It really means a lot to hear your support. I hope you keep following the blog, I will keep uploading new recipes and posts!!
Thanks for the reply and posting a new recipe! It looks delicious can’t wait to give it a try!!!
If you haven’t yet, perhaps you could check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s book titled, “Crushing It!” (the audio version its best for a busy schedule). I believe it could help you in your quest to develop your name and brand. If nothing else, it could give you some more creative ideas to help get your amazing recipes and posts out to more people. You’re awesome! Good luck on all you do, we all wish you nothing but the best!!!! Keep the cool posts and recipes coming!
Not everyone can accomplish your achievements, especially at your age and in activities as demanding as your hobbies.
I was reading your blog all the way from México and I'm pleased to hear your plans about the blog and a YouTube channel.
Thank you!! Yes hopefully after I get the blog better established 🙂
Any YouTube channels you would recommend? And what Insta hashtag should we use if we try recreating your recipes? Your desserts look amazing!
It depends on what type and style of desserts you would like to make. For cakes I would say channels like Cupcake Gemma, Preppy Kitchen, Emma's Goodies. For more refined desserts I'd say Bruno Albouze. Personally I like light Asian style desserts so I love channels like Cooking tree, Emojoie cuisine and Sweet the Mi. Hope this helps!
I just finished watching the show, and I just had to let you know that I was so excited to see you win!! It was so inspiring to see you literally chase after your dreams while keeping up such a positive, bubbly attitude towards everyone around you, and you really really deserved the win. I know you have and will continue to inspire so many more Asian women and men to pursue their passions just like you!
Wish you all the best,
I'm so happy that I am able to inspire people with what I love to do! Thank you so much for your comment and support, it really makes my day 🙂
hi Catherine. I send an email regarding collaboration. Please check and let me know =)
Dear Catherine ,
My name is Brianna and I am 10 years old . My sister Lucy (age 8) and I have been watching Zumbo’s Just Desserts . We are very big fans !!!!! We are currently on the Last Episode and waiting to see if you win . Since my family is stuck at home because of the Virus 🦠 we have been watching the show and love your desserts 🧁. I would also like to know how you are doing in Australia .
Stay Safe ,
Brianna and Lucy
Hi Brianna and Lucy,
Thank you! Hope you are enjoying the show, being stuck at home is the perfect excuse to watch some Zumbo's Just Desserts!! I'm doing well here in Australia, also stuck at home, but using that time to make more cakes 😀
YOOOOOOO CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING ZUMBO'S JUST DESSERTS, FIRST OF ALL!
Secondly. My mom and I keep trying to make the same desserts as you do, except it's Corona Time and we have like no ingredients, but you and your desserts are so cool and that's all.
HAVE A GOOD DAYYY
I thought you were fantastic in zumbo's just desserts! I am fourteen and am very inspired by what you created, given your age! Can you also share some of the sweet sensations task recipes maybe on your blog? Thank you!
Greetings from LA! My 10 year old and 12 year old daughters finished watching you on Zumbo a month ago and my 10 year old is obsessed with you. We loved seeing your passion in baking, your intuitive sense of creating flavor, and your representation of the Chinese Australian! And then now reading about how you truly self-started and blossomed your interest independently. Wishing you the best in fulfilling your baking dreams- I do believe it’s well in its making!:)
Hi Catherine I am Aleeya and I am 8 years I know you have seen me comment on your recipes before but I wanted to fully introduce myself! I live in Hawai'i. I just watched your video on the strawberry shortcake and it was awesome! When I saw your blog I was literally screaming because when I watched Season 2 of ZJD's I was really excited to see who has won it! I have a baby sister who is 1 year old and 6 months. Anyways great job on the blog!
Simon should have won, give him half the money.
G, you a POS for coming onto her website to post such rubbish. So you're saying you some lowlife nobody knows better than two renowned chefs? Did you taste her desserts? The winner of season one often messed up on her briefs and when the taste wasn't as great as the presentation, the tasty one w/ less presentation always won out. You didn't taste the desert, you weren't the judges, stop being a lowlife and go get a life so you don't need to put other people down. Catherine DESERVED the win and she is very talented and is better than many professionals. Go take your poison and drink it yourself and leave decent talented people alone you creep!
Thanks for creating this website, and being willing to share & be an inspiration. I have 2 girls who love to bake, and we look forward to trying your recipes.
Many blessings to you and your future aspirations. 🙂
Hi Catherine, I am a HUGE fan. ever since I started watching ZJD. I always Expected you to win and, you made my thought come true. Who is your favourite contestant that you competed with?
Hi Kate! Thank you, I love them all I can't pick! 😆
Valerie Fu Yaxuan
Hi! I am Valerie and I am 9 years old this year.Everyone in my household loves to watch you make desserts! I think you are amazing that at such a young age you could do this! I want to learn how to bake as well however my family wants me to dance and other stuff... 🙁 .... but you really showed me that I should try my best to stand up to my family! Thank you so much! GOOD JOB WINNING! 🙂
Hi Valerie, Thank you for your comment! I'm sure you can do it, keep working towards your dreams 🙂
Valerie Fu Yaxuan
Hi! I am Valerie and I am 9 years old this year.Everyone in my household loves to watch you make desserts! I think you are amazing that at such a young age you could do this! I want to learn how to bake as well however my family wants me to dance and other stuff... 🙁 .... but you really showed me that I should try my best to stand up to my family! Thank you so much! GOOD JOB WINNING! 🙂 good luck and stay safe!
Hi Valerie! Thank you ❤️ Keep baking, I'm sure you'll be amazing. Stay safe!