MasterChef Australia 2024: meet the cast

These are the 22 home cooks chasing the 2024 title and $250,000 prize on 10.

There are 22 new contestants vying for the MasterChef Australia 2024 title and $250,000 in prize
money. This season will also see a money-can’t-buy prize on offer, with an opportunity of a lifetime in store for the winner.

Season 18 visits Hong Kong, as well as Bendigo and Ballarat.

Chef Jamie Oliver will feature across two weeks with guests to come including Adriano Zumbo, Anna Polyviou, Curtis Stone, Rick Stein, Vincent Yeow Lim (AKA DimSimLim) and Mikiko Terasaki.

Judges L to R: Sofia Levin, Andy Allen, Poh Ling Yeow, Jean-Chrisotophe Novell

Sofia Levin
Born and raised in Australia’s culinary capital, Melburnian Sofia Levin is a journalist and presenter who celebrates cultural diversity through food. Driven by insatiable curiosity, you’re more likely to find her munching insects on the side of the road than following in the footsteps of Nigella. For fifteen years, Sofia has contributed her writing and reviews to esteemed publications such as Good Food, SBS Food, Domain Review, National Geographic Traveller, The Guardian, delicious., Gourmet Traveller, Broadsheet, Time Out and various in-flight magazines, as well as writing the entire Lonely Planet Guide for Melbourne. In 2020, she launched Seasoned Traveller, a website and newsletter dedicated to sharing lesser-known food stories from around the globe. Sofia’s infectious enthusiasm, adventurous spirit, and natural on-screen presence have not only resulted in collaborations with renowned brands like Visit Victoria, Intrepid Travel and Lonely Planet, they have also cultivated a fiercely loyal following on social media.

Andy Allen
Over a decade on from his triumphant win on MasterChef Australia season four, Andy Allen is the success story that exemplifies what the nation’s favourite cooking show is all about. Andy started as a sparky, but what really lit him up was getting creative in the kitchen and feeding whoever was home and hungry. Throughout his time on the show, he devoured every opportunity to learn and hone his skills. His hard work paid off when he was crowned winner of MasterChef Australia in 2012. As the show’s youngest winner at the time, Andy’s culinary journey was just heating up. Andy used his success on the show as a springboard into incredible new challenges, including authoring his first cookbook, The Next Element, and commencing work as a cook at Sydney café, Three Blue Ducks. Andy was instantly hooked on the fast-paced kitchen environment and the Ducks’ ethos, so much so that in 2016, they opened a new venture in Rosebery together. Andy threw everything he had at his new head chef role, going on to become a co-owner of the entire restaurant group. In 2018, the Three Blue Ducks’ Rosebery restaurant was awarded an Australian Good Food Guide chef’s hat, making Andy the first MasterChef Australia contestant to receive the highly sought-after honour. Andy and the Ducks now have five restaurants around Australia, including Byron and Melbourne.

Po Ling-Yeow
Poh is a multi-talented artist known for her diverse creative pursuits including painting, cooking, and television presenting. Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Poh’s early years were influenced by a rich tapestry of cultures – a theme often woven into her artistic expression. At the age of nine, Poh’s family migrated to South Australia where she still lives and works. Poh studied a Bachelor of Design (Illustration) at the University of South Australia, then freelanced as a graphic designer and illustrator. She is a celebrated artist with over 20 successful exhibitions under her belt. As a fifth-generation Chinese Malaysian, Poh’s interest in food came from her wanting to reconcile her heritage with western culture. In 2009 she shot to stardom when she was runner-up in the first ever series of MasterChef Australia. Her unique culinary creations and warm, affable personality endeared her to viewers, catapulting her into the public eye as a household name. Since her breakthrough on MasterChef Australia, Poh has emerged as a prominent figure in the Australian culinary landscape and has regularly appeared on our television screens. She has authored five cookbooks, hosted her own television series, and collaborated with various renowned chefs. In 2019, Poh returned to the MasterChef Australia family as a mentor and in 2020, she was a contestant on MasterChef Australia: Back to Win, placing sixth overall.

Jean-Chrisotophe Novelli
French-born Jean-Christophe began his culinary career early in life, from working in a bakery when he was 14 to becoming Head Chef to the Rothchild family in their private home by age 20. In the early 1980s, Jean-Christophe moved to the UK to take on a position at the 5-star Chewton Glen, before working and living with the legendary British cook and restaurateur Keith Floydas as his ‘right-hand man’. It wasn’t long before Jean-Christophe branched out on his own and opened a mini empire of multi-awardwinning restaurants internationally. He is proudly still involved with his luxury brasserie, Novelli at City Quays Belfast, which sprawls across the ground floor of the AC Hotel Belfast by Marriott. Mentoring budding home cooks is a cause close to Jean-Christophe’s heart, which is why he launched his award-winning cookery school over 15 years ago. Located in his Hertfordshire estate, the Novelli Academy Cookery School has been named among the top 25 in the world and continues to go from strength to strength.


Alex Crisp
Age: 27
State: Western Australia
Occupation: Sales Representative
Dubbed sunshine in human form, Alex Crisp is ready to shine her light in the MasterChef Australia kitchen. Raised in Fremantle, Alex is a first-generation Australian. Her mother, Britta, is from Denmark and her father Gary is South African. The mix of cultures always made for maximum flavour on Alex’s dinner table growing up, setting off her culinary curiosity. She recalls her ninth birthday when her Dad told her she could pick out any gift she wanted. Her choice? A Jamie Oliver cookbook. After her parents separated, Alex stepped up in the kitchen when she was 10. Cooking a meal was a lovely way to bring the family together, and a chance to honour her connection to her grandparents, particularly her Momor (Danish grandmother) and Yoyo (South African grandmother). Each year her Danish friends and family throw a “Viking Fest”, with a huge feast, and Alex is excited to honour her heritage in the MasterChef Australia kitchen.

Darrsh Clarke
Age: 31
State: Western Australia
Occupation: Management Consultant
Having represented Western Australia on both the basketball and volleyball court over the years, Darrsh Clarke brings a competitive spirit to the MasterChef Australia kitchen that he hopes will give him an edge. Growing up the only child of Sri Lankan parents, Darrsh’s love of food was heavily influenced by his late father, a chef in an Indian restaurant whom Darrsh would watch in the kitchen, in awe. To this day, his Dad remains the biggest influence on how Darrsh approaches life, with passion and creativity, two traits that he will bring to the MasterChef Australia competition. Darrsh was also inspired by his grandmother, who shared many Sri Lankan food traditions and introduced him to a love of baking as young as age six. Though he always loved to cook, Darrsh steered away from his passion to make his parents proud, beginning an Engineering degree, before completing a Management and Marketing degree. His career since has spanned marketing and, more recently, management consultant roles.

David Tan
Age: 30
State: Queensland
Occupation: Pharmacologist
With a degree in pharmacology and toxicology to his name, David Tan’s day job is as a national clinical trials administrator. While he is committed to his important work with cancer patients on their crucial treatments, David has put his profession on hold to see where his MasterChef Australia journey may lead. Growing up in Singapore, in a food culture that underpins society, David jokes that eating is the national hobby and notes that his family of five would think nothing of driving to Malaysia on the weekend just for lunch. With fond memories of cooking from both his father and grandmother, David knows that cooking was their love language, with care and culture expressed through delicious traditions. Along with his sister who is based in Darwin, David tries to return to Singapore annually to reconnect with family and come together over food.

Gillian Dinh
Age: 31
State: New South Wales
Occupation: Lettering Artist
Growing up in a home influenced by Italian flavours on her Mum’s side and the taste of Vietnam on her Dad’s, meal times in the Dinh household were anything but dull. As one of four girls, Gillian (Gill) Dinh’s memories of the family dinner table hold much nostalgia and sentiment, as it meant sharing conversations, laughter, and stories over the best meals. Gill recalls often being able to smell what was for dinner from the bus stop, walking home from school. For Gill, food is love. She has been influenced deeply by both her Mum Doreen and her beloved late Nonna Lina, who gifted her the use of food as a love language; as well as by her late Dad Tommy who taught her intuition in the kitchen, to trust her palette, and to balance flavours and textures when preparing food with care. Her family and partner Jake are always in her corner, and Gill plans to make them all proud during her time in the MasterChef Australia kitchen.

Harry Butterfield
Age: 29
State: Queensland
Occupation: Commercial Property
Happiest by the ocean, Brisbane-based Harry Butterfield has his sights on being this season’s resident seafood guru.
With fond of memories of helping his Mum and Dad in the kitchen as a kid, Harry really embraced cooking around age 12, influenced by his family of good cooks, and heritage spanning Northern Italian, English and German. Both his Nonna Yvonne and Pop Ivan have played a huge role along Harry’s culinary path. Nonna always making something delicious from whatever was in the fridge or pantry and Pop sharing his love of the ocean, as they surfed, fished, and swam together. Harry will dedicate his MasterChef Australia journey to them. Super passionate about sustainably harvesting seafood, Harry has been known to swim for hours in search of crayfish, even in shark-infested waters! He finds it incredibly rewarding to dish up something delicious he has harvested for family and friends, and has a huge respect for fresh produce, not letting anything go to waste.

James Holmes
Age: 38
State: Western Australia
Occupation: Primary School Teacher
Growing up in Kingston Upon Thames, England, James Holmes’ love of food has long been inspired by his travels. With Europe on the doorstep, family holidays as a child were to the small Greek island of Lemnos, where core food memories were made. Instead of material possessions, James’ parents would treat James, his sister and his twin brother to meals out at restaurants as they grew up, broadening their palettes and horizons. Fast forward many years, and James and his Australian-born wife, Paris, travelled the world together for 11 months, including to South America, Europe, Southeast Asia and, of course, Australia, sampling and understanding new cuisines and gaining inspiration in every port. Having forged a successful career as a teacher over many years, family man James is a father to son Benji, aged seven, and daughter Goldie, three. Becoming a parent has changed his perspective and James says his kids remind him to always find the joy in life. James is determined to lead by example and show his own kids, along with those he teaches, that you can go against the grain and embrace a challenge with nothing to lose.

Jonathan Hooper
Age: 29
State: New South Wales
Occupation: Carpenter
A Nonna’s boy through and through, Jonathan Hooper is incredibly close with his Nonna, Sandra. So close in fact, that they live together. Sandra helped raise Jonathan and always looked after the family, ensuring everyone was well-fed and cared for. Always drawn to food, Jonathan recalls beginning to cook at around 10-years-old. If he didn’t like what was for dinner, he was encouraged to cook for himself, and he did. Largely self-taught as a cook, Jonathan loves the joy food can bring, and gets a buzz out of curating menus and entertaining friends. A carpenter by trade, Jonathan is hardworking and has boundless energy which he channels into a positive, happy life. He resonates strongly with judge Andy Allen’s story of transforming his life from sparky to chef to MasterChef Australia judge and hopes that by joining the MasterChef Australia ranks this season, he too will change his future.

Josh Clarke
Age: 27
State: Queensland
Occupation: Coffee Roaster
Growing up in Queens, NYC, Josh Clarke cites both his Irish Mum Caroline and Jamaican Dad Jason as his foodie inspirations. When the kitchen bench was at chin height, Josh watched his mother work hard at an Irish pub in NYC, while his Dad expanded their rich culture at home by adding his Jamaican flair to every meal, making Caribbean cuisine a significant part of Josh’s cultural norm growing up. Leaving college early to backpack across the world, Josh sampled all manner of interesting and authentic foods across the globe including Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand and of course, Australia. It was on a farm in Byron Bay in 2018 that Josh met and fell for his now wife Laura, and the rest is history. Josh became an instant family man, adopting his first child Hosanna, now seven, and going on to have son Kingsley, now three, and daughter Winslow, aged one. As dad to three young children, Josh is used to being amongst chaos, but always finds being in the kitchen his place of calm and zen. He loves that he can instil in his kids a love of food, teaching them important life skills.

Josh Perry
Age: 43
State: Tasmania
Occupation: Butcher
Affectionately known as “Pezza”, Josh Perry is a small-town butcher from Smithton, Tasmania, with big food dreams. Not work-shy, Josh is accustomed to 10 to 12 hour days, six days a week at the helm of his butcher shop, Perry’s Quality Meats. This former livestock agent fattens his own cattle to sell, on what he calls God’s country, loving nothing more than cooking with homegrown, grass-fed Tasmanian beef and locally harvested seafood, with fresh abalone also a favourite. The shop is a family affair, where Josh is flanked by his wife of 20 years and best friend Jen, and their two adult sons who have also worked alongside him. Family is everything to Josh and he loves nothing better than Sundays, when the whole family gathers for a big cook up – catering for Josh’s four adult and teenaged kids, right down to his three young grandkids.

Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal
Age: 39
State: New South Wales
Occupation: Board Game Designer
With easily the most infectious smile in the MasterChef Australia kitchen, Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal will bring not only Latin American flavours, but a healthy dose of fun. Born in Argentina, Juan De La Cruz is one of nine children and as the seventh son of the family (two sisters followed), is considered special in Argentinian culture. As tradition has it, the seventh son automatically becomes the President’s godson which, in mythology, was to save him from being turned into a werewolf. Incredibly close to his family, Juan speaks with them every day, despite them all being based in Argentina. His mother Cristina remains a huge inspiration for him in the kitchen, having cooked four meals a day for 11 people for many years. She taught Juan the power of good food not only to nourish, but as a salve for bad situations. Bad asthma kept Juan indoors as a kid, but he became Mum’s official taster, developing his palette from an early age. His Dad Alejandro and his uncle then taught him the art of asado. Sadly, his father passed away in 2022, but Juan will be forever grateful that he was able to cook him a final traditional Argentinian dish of humita.

Khristian Walker
Age: 26
State: Victoria
Occupation: Insurance Services
Khristian Walker’s positive attitude in the kitchen is likely to propel him just as far as his skillset, but when the two combine in the right measure, he will be a force to behold. Growing up in working-class Melbourne, Khristian witnessed a gritty side of life from a young age. He always knew he wanted more for himself and wasn’t afraid to put in the work to get it. Khristian knows from experience that it’s not all about the cards you’re dealt in life, but how you play the hand. He is always ready to make the most of every opportunity and being in the MasterChef Australia kitchen is one of his biggest yet. His mum sparked his passion for food, and Khristian recalls helping in the kitchen from around age 10. Not only did this pique his curiosity but gifted him a level of independence which was incredibly useful. His single mum worked 14-hour days to keep the family afloat, and independence meant Khristian could help care for his sister. Once the fire was lit, Khristian’s thirst for knowledge led him to continually level up his learning as a cook.

Lachlan Whittle
Age: 34
State: Victoria
Occupation: Landscape Gardener
Working in landscape design for 10 years, former small business owner and hardworking single dad, Lachlan Whittle, is ready to chase his dreams. Doting dad to two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Lily, Lochy is motivated to make his mark on the competition for his little girl, to leave a legacy that makes her proud. Seizing this chance has taken on a whole new meaning for Lochy, who sadly lost his Mum Jan to cancer late last year. For many years, Jan also suffered from degenerative brain condition Huntington’s Disease. As a genetic disorder, Lochy learnt in recent years that he too suffers from the condition. Far from self-pity, Lochy has drawn from his situation a determination to live life to the fullest, working hard to stave off the on-set of symptoms, with cooking taking on a renewed significance. Thinking constantly about food, Lochy wants his life to revolve around it, with an intent to soak up knowledge, and learn from the judges and guest chefs to take his cooking to the highest level.

Lily Davies
Age: 30
State: New South Wales
Occupation: Former Nurse
Growing up in a busy family of five with two older brothers, Londoner Lily Davies has long been drawn to food, some might say obsessed! Lily’s Mum Jo was a chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, becoming one of the youngest ever to teach there back in the day, aged 18. Spending time in the kitchen with her Mum bonded the pair inextricably, with a deep love of food igniting a shared passion. Following university, Lily worked as a pediatric nurse, a career that has seen her care for children and families both in the UK and Australia through their toughest moments. She spent many years in fast-paced, high-pressure environments before it was time for a change. This go-getter with a huge heart is now in a new phase of her career, in the health tech space, where she continues to make a difference from another corner of the industry. The shift means that she can indulge her passion for the kitchen more, fulfilling her longstanding desire to make people feel good through food.

Lourdes Leschen
Age: 22
State: Victoria
Occupation: Marketing Coordinator
While she might be the youngest contender in the MasterChef Australia kitchen this season, Lourdes Leschen looks set to hold her own, with a grace beyond her years. Growing up in Melbourne, Lourdes is fortunate to have had a heavy Spanish influence in her life and her cooking. With her mother Laly and Yiayia Ana Maria hailing from Catalonia, the family has strong ties to its maternal homeland. This connection has instilled in Lourdes a deep love of cooking, teaching her how delicious healthy and simple food can be. A two-month student exchange to Madrid during high school further deepened her appreciation for her culture. While croquettes, paella and churros are all up there, her favourite Spanish fare is the traditional bocadillo de tortilla, a simple yet decadent sandwich. With a variety of Mediterranean influences, this youngest of three children became a vegetarian for a time during her teens, which saw her cook for herself a lot more. A perfectionist in many areas of her life, as an academic high achiever, Lourdes already has a university degree under her belt and is working in marketing.

Mimi Wong
Age: 25
State: New South Wales
Occupation: High School Teacher
A highly curious cook, for high school teacher Mimi Wong, lately her passion for food has begun to exceed the boundaries of home cooking, so she has come to the best place to test them: the MasterChef Australia kitchen. Born in Hong Kong, Mimi moved to Sydney aged one, but returned to Hong Kong to live at age 11 for seven years with her beloved grandma, or Ah Por, following her parents’ divorce. She and brother Jonathan were raised in humble Hong Kong public housing, her grandma instilling in them the philosophies of being a nurturer, cook and caretaker. Their tiny apartment was full of love and steeped in tradition, always with the scent of poached snapper, soybraised chicken or coconut and red date syrup on the stove top. Formative memories of being her grandma’s sous chef for Chinese New Year have paved the way for Mimi’s passion.

Nat Thaipun
Age: 28
State: Victoria
Occupation: Barista
A proud Australian-born Thai woman, Nat Thaipun grew up in a busy family of five on Melbourne’s outskirts, with two younger brothers, and parents who ran a Thai restaurant where her Mum and food hero, Nutsiree, was head chef. Raised as traditionally Thai, Nat spoke the language and learnt the ways of Thai people. Her late grandmother, Purd Boonpun, was a huge influence, further inspiring Nat’s love of cooking even after her passing, as she witnessed food’s place in grief and healing. Nat feels the weight of keeping family traditions alive, to pass on skills and stories. The depth of Nat’s connection to her Thai culture however has not been without its challenges, leaving her feeling isolated at times against an Aussie backdrop. She has grappled with her place between two cultures, and left Australia in 2016 to travel and in some ways, to find herself. Trained as a Barista, over the past seven years Nat has lived and worked in Switzerland, Japan and New Zealand. Adorned with more than 90 tattoos, Nat loves adrenaline-fuelled adventures, and snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and skydiving punctuated her life abroad.

Savindri Perera
Age: 30
State: South Australia
Occupation: Banking Consultant
For Savindri Perera, or Sav as she is best known, working in a bank is a means to an end. Where she comes alive is in the kitchen, working to recreate the Sri Lankan flavours of her mother’s kitchen. Born in Colombo where she lived until moving to Adelaide aged 18, food permeates Sav’s childhood memories, growing up with older sister Chethanee, her late Mum Chandrika and Dad Chethiya. Citing her beloved mum as her food hero, Chandrika was an exceptional cook, and the family lived within a culture that valued both the act of cooking and eating together. Memories of eating from roadside stalls with cousins or unforgettable crab curry Sunday lunches are just part of what forms Sav’s “family food map”. The loss of her vivacious mother in 2017 left a void in Sav that has been understandably difficult to overcome. Accepting her Mum’s passing has been a long road through the many stages of grief, but through this, Sav has built a deep resilience and finally feels ready to take on the MasterChef Australia challenge, in part to honour her mother’s memory and the indelible mark she has left on Sav.

Snezana Calic
Age: 40
State: Victoria
Occupation: Financial Services
With food always on the brain, it’s little wonder Snezana Calic has found her way to the MasterChef Australia kitchen. At breakfast, she’s thinking about lunch; at lunch, she’s planning dinner; and she reads cookbooks to relax. Croatian-born Snezana moved to Serbia as a child so grew up with both Mediterranean flavours, and heartier style Serbian dishes. Her Mum Mira is an incredible cook, and Snezana shares that she always has at least three meals on offer, even for a quick visit. Snezana started cooking around age seven, learning her skills in the kitchen from observing her Mum over the years and heavily inspired by traditional Serbian culture. Showing her love through food to her own family now, she cooks for husband Aleks, daughter Lenka, aged seven and son Lazar, five. The extended family are also a big bunch of foodies, and Snezana is proud that her own daughter is showing a keen interest.

Steph Griffen
Age: 28
State: Queensland
Occupation: Events Manager
For this bubbly cook from the Sunshine State, making it into the MasterChef Australia class of 2024 has proven to Steph Griffen that she’s ready to take the next big step towards the career, and future, of her dreams. Working in food event planning, Steph would spend her days organising chefs and home cooks for private dining experiences and special events, liaising with clients and cooks alike to deliver delicious and unforgettable entertaining experiences. It made her want to further explore her own huge passion for food and really get hands-on. Steph is looking forward to seeing how far she can push herself in the competition, to dig deep and really learn what she’s capable of. Identifying as a savoury girl through and through, Steph cooks meat to perfection and loves creating high-end dishes. She is confident that her sound grip on balancing flavours and turning the simple into something truly memorable will be an ace up her sleeve during the competition.

Stephen Dennis
Age: 62
State: Queensland
Occupation: Tour Guide
Stepping into the MasterChef Australia kitchen has been a dream many years in the making for Stephen “Steve” Dennis. Sixteen in fact. Steve got the call up to be a part of season one of MasterChef Australia, but Mother Nature intervened in the form of a cyclone, conspiring against him travelling to join the competition. A sliding doors moment kept him from season two and then (a very adventurous!) life got in the way. But Steve never let go of his dream and at 62, as the oldest contender this year, he is here to prove that there is no upper limit to going after what you want in life. Steve has had all manner of jobs over the years. After working in the printing industry things took an exotic turn as he found himself wrangling emus and working with crocs (see his necklace as proof!). He ran an eco-lodge, led tours through the Daintree rainforest, was a dive boat manager, and most recently, ran his own tour business. Throughout it all, he is grateful to have had the love and support of wife Gillian who has followed his wild work across the country and is now cheering him on in this kitchen adventure.

Sue Bazely
Age: 58
State: Victoria
Occupation: Customer Manager
In 2024 the stars have aligned for Sue Bazely to open up a new world of opportunities and, with that, she hopes a new career path will lay ahead. Married to high school sweetheart Glenn for 33 years, and together for 43, Sue is mum to son Weston, 20 and daughter, Mari, 18. Most recently, Sue was Head of Customer Experience for a building company, but when its collapse left her unexpectedly unemployed, she was able to reassess her priorities. With the encouragement of all at home, she is finally ready to chase her dreams. Having immigrated as Ten Pound Poms, Sue’s Anglo-Indian (late) father Ted and Danish mother Lene settled in Adelaide, where Sue and her four siblings grew up. She has special memories of helping her mother tending, harvesting and cooking from their vegetable garden, as well as sharing varied cuisines with their multicultural community.

Sumeet Saigal
Age: 46
State: NSW
Occupation: Sales Manager
A love of food is in Sumeet Saigal’s blood, embedded deep in her Punjabi culture and engrained in her family upbringing. Growing up in Bangalore, India, Sumeet has fond memories of her parents throwing parties when she and brother Jasmeet would keenly watch the preparation and planning process. Her late mother Kamal was a warm and welcoming hostess, and Sumeet stepped up to help with the party food. Her biggest food influence was her paternal grandfather, who she called Darji, a larger-than-life former freedom fighter, who loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. He gave Sumeet her first ever cookbook and helped her foster a curious and creative persona in the kitchen. After studying hotel management, Sumeet forged a career in sales, but has always known deep down that food is where she belongs. The kitchen is a meditative space for Sumeet, a stressful day remedied by time spent cooking.

7:30pm Monday – Thursday on 10.


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