Plate of Origin: meet the teams

Teams in Plate of Origin cook up family recipes and national cuisines in Seven’s new cooking reality show.

To be judged by Matt Preston, Manu Feildel and Gary Mehigan, they are in a quest for a $100,000 prize.

Team Cameroon
Kelly & Ashley
Colourful Cameroonian sisters Kelly, 26, and Ashley, 28, are going to bring the flavour of Africa to Plate of Origin. Predominately raised and taught to cook in a traditional African style by their mother and grandmother, they moved to Melbourne in 2005 and think it’s about time Australia got a taste of African cuisine. Ashley says: “Cameroon food is nothing Australia’s ever seen before. It’s spicy and it has so much personality.” Kelly adds: “Our culture is big, loud, bright and colourful, just like us.”

When did you start cooking?
Kelly: When we were kids, we learnt about Cameroonian food by watching our grandmother
cook and learned traditional cooking from other family members, including our mum and aunties. When we moved to Australia, I would do little meals and bake for fun.
Ashley: We all had our little duties in the kitchen as a kid, someone was in control of the fire, someone else on tomatoes and onion, another on garlic and ginger, etc. When we moved to Australia, mum was working a few jobs, so we had to cook for ourselves. That was normal for us.

Team China
Mandy & Chrys
A shared passion of their cuisine saw emcee and model Mandy, 28, and DJ Chrys, 30, hit it off immediately when they met at a dinner party. Chrys says: “DJ’ing and cooking are similar in some ways; you play with different elements to create something beautiful and unique all together.” These besties who love posting and live streaming ‘muckbungs’ are extremely well versed in Asian flavours and confident in representing their community. Mandy says: “We are the best to represent Chinese cuisine because we bring modern flavours into traditional cooking.”

What do you love about your team’s cuisine?
Mandy: I love how versatile Chinese food is. Each state has their own profile of flavours. There is so much to explore and learn, so many cultures within one country.
Chrys: What I love most is how broad the spectrum of flavours can be. It’s almost like you can immerse in a totally different cultural experience whilst eating dishes from the eight cuisines of China.

Team France
Austine & Leo
Entrepreneurs Austine, 28, and Leo, 32, are hoping to transport the competition and the judges – especially Manu – to France and they are going to do it in style! The “soulmate cooks” bonded at a BBQ three years ago and while it was Austine’s idea to apply for Plate of Origin, Leo admits he’s in the competition to show Australia what French food is all about – “elegance, technicality and a lot of love.” Austine agrees: “People expect perfection, so we need to give them that.”

What’s your food philosophy as a team?
Austine: Our food philosophy is to make people happy with food and show that it is more than just a feeding task.
Leo: Our food philosophy as a team is to make people happy and satisfied with food, show our heritage and the deliciousness of French cuisine. What I love with working with Austine is that we
do not need to talk in the kitchen. We know our strength and weaknesses and we respect each other. Our decisions are made as a team.

Team Greece
Dezi & Penny
Cousins Dezi, 41, and Penny, 33, are seriously superstitious and serious about Greek food.
With a fishmonger father, Dezi’s first job was with her parents at the markets. Family continues to
be a a strong theme in the duo’s cooking. “Greek food is plentiful, tasty and from the heart.
We want to cook like we are cooking for our family,” says Dezi. But the mother of two also cautions; “Never underestimate a Greek mum!” Penny, also raised in a traditional Greek family owns her own cake shop and believes they can take out the competition with “simple, strong flavours” and cooking from the heart.

When did you start cooking?
Dezi: I started cooking when I got married at 23.
I loved watching great cooks like my mum in the kitchen. She doesn’t measure a thing; it is all done “me to mati” with the eye and the feel. Her food is amazing. I am frantically trying to take notes and watch her so I can recreate them at home. She taught me a lot.
Penny: I spent a lot of time with my Giagia (grandma) growing up so my life was always around food.
My Giagia’s goal in life was to make sure we ate something every five minutes and if we didn’t, we must have been sick. I am mainly self-taught but my Giagia taught me how to make filo pastry from scratch and a few other dishes.

Team Australia
Ethan & Stew
Best mates from Sydney, Ethan, a financial planner and Stew, a cocktail maker/bartender (both
28) met in Year 10 maths class. In a calculated move, they both left their jobs to chase their food dream on Plate of Origin. Stew says: “We are just two regular guys who like to cook and now we are getting to show the world what modern Australian cuisine is.” Adds Ethan: “It’s fresh, its seasonal its undefined, it pushes the boundaries.” Hailing from a hospitality background, they’ve learnt some tricks of the trade and developed a skillset to impress. Ethan vows: “We’re here to prove Australian modern cuisine is going to stand up against the world heavyweights of cooking.”

What is so special about Australian cuisine?
Ethan: I love the flexibility of modern Australian cuisine; we are not locked into cooking anything
as Australia’s history has experienced so much multiculturalism, there aren’t many cuisines that we don’t have access to or can draw from.
Stew: It is based a multitude of different cuisines. The diversity of cooking is what I love – taking a bit of each cuisine.

Team Italy
Teresa & Michelle
Mother and daughter team Teresa, 60, and Michelle, 35, know the importance of tradition. Teresa, a bookkeeper and business manager was raised on a farm where they grew and cooked everything from scratch. Michelle, a musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapist with a passion for food styling and photography, knows how nourishing food is to the body and soul. There’s also a deep competitive drive in the family, with Teresa also mother to NRL greats Anthony and Mark Minichiello. Teresa says: “Italian cuisine means so much to me because, it’s not just food on the plate, it’s the story of struggle, of triumph of tradition, of family and love.”

What’s your food dream?
Teresa: I would love to empower others by starting cooking lessons to help share my traditional cooking skills.
Michelle: Our food dream is to one day have our own cooking show to be able to share with the world our cooking creations and empower others through food.

Team Venezuela
Kiki & Aly
PR specialist Kiki, 37, from Colombia and friend, journalist and small business owner, Aly, 38, from Venezuela, both started cooking when they moved to Australia and couldn’t find their local cuisine. “Venezuelan food is my passion, my passport, my identity and the cuisine that I grew up with. Each bite reminds me of an experience with my family and friends,” says Aly. “I am really proud to show to Australia a little bit of our unique, delicious and colourful, cuisine.” Adds Kiki: “We are international students who migrated to Australia. It is time Australians experience a new set of big Latin flavours!” Sharing a love of their culture, cooking and salsa dancing, these Latina ladies will bring passion to every plate.

When did you start cooking?
Kiki: When I moved to Australia 13 years ago.
Aly: I started cooking in 2012 when I came to Australia and I didn’t find any Venezuelan restaurants. I got homesick and I realised that I would have to learn traditional recipes. On my last trip to Venezuela, I had the opportunity to cook with my family and they taught me amazing Latin family recipes.

Team India
Ash & Simran
IT specialist Ash, 41, met his wife actor and model Simran, 39, while they were both visiting their families in India. It was love at first sight for Ash, who declared to Sim he was the man she would marry (she still laughs about that now!). Proud parents of two young children, Ash and Simran love cooking together for family and friends so Simran suggested they apply for Plate of Origin. “I have always been in love with creating food. I knew that Ash loved to cook and had talent. I felt it was time to take our skills onto a bigger stage than our kitchen.” With a shared passion for spice, flavour and health, Ash and Simran can’t wait to share their heritage dishes with Australia.

Who is your culinary inspiration?
Simran: My mum is my biggest cooking inspiration. As an Indian girl growing up it is customary that a Mum teaches her daughter how to cook, and she showed me some incredible dishes that I use, but I improvised them to make them better.

Team Lebanon
Jamal & Rachida
Mother and daughter Jamal, 48, and Rachida, 30, are extremely close, more like best friends who see each other daily. However, Rachida also admits they have their differences. “We are chalk and cheese and don’t agree on anything, but we make it work.” With no formal cooking training, Jamal was praised so much for her delicious traditional dishes she started her own small catering company. Rachida followed suit a few years later taking a break from teaching to run a food business. These passionate cooks can’t wait to showcase their heritage and traditional cuisine to Australia with a food philosophy of ‘never let anyone leave hungry’!

What’s your food dream?
Jamal: Our food dream is to have a successful catering business and eventually, an in/ out takeaway shop with real, traditional home style cooked food.
Rachida: To open up a cooking school to pass down our recipes to the younger generation.

Team Vietnam
Thanh & Duncan
Friends Thanh, 32, and Duncan, 29, are here to pack a punch with diverse cuisine creations and connect Aussies to the exotic and intricate culture and food from Vietnam. Thanh is a second- generation fruiterer known to his mates as the ‘fruit nerd’, while Duncan, an Oral Health Therapist, is a passionate home cook. Thanh says: “There is so much more to Vietnamese cuisine than Pho and spring rolls.” Duncan adds: “Vietnamese food makes people feel fresh, light but fulfilled.
It is the best in the world because it marries so well with fresh produce to amplify the produce itself and create incredible flavours.” These avid social media foodie’s philosophy is “Không Thắng Không Về!” – We’re not going home until we win!
When did you start cooking?
Thanh: When I moved out of home in 2015 and realised how good I had it at home with mum’s food. I learned to cook through my parents, online recipes and inspiration from chefs. I’m really proud of following my father’s profession of being a fruiterer. There isn’t anything better than knowing that you are part of nourishing people’s lives with nutritious food.
Duncan: My appreciation for home cooked Vietnamese food began with my grandma, but I realized food was more than sustenance and calories when I moved out of home and had to cook for myself. Food no longer tasted the same, something was missing but there were no missing ingredients. That’s when I realised it involved an emotion, a story or narrative. This opened a whole new way I looked at food.

7pm Sunday, 7.30pm Monday & Tuesday on Seven.


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