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 🙂