Last month, My Kitchen Rules contestant Drasko Jankovic made headlines when, despite not making it to the finals, he was offered a job at judge Colin Fassnidge’s Sydney gastro pub Four In Hand.
While all cooking show hopefuls declare that food is their passion, there is no guarantee that they will be able to exploit their reality TV experience and pursue a career in the kitchen.
FEMAIL meets former Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules contestants to learn what happened after they hung up their aprons.
Sammy and Bella Jakubiak soared to fame after winning the 2011 My Kitchen Rules series, taking home the $100,000 prize money.
Now, four years on, the Sydney sisters are making a name for themselves in the industry, though not via the traditional post-reality show route.
Sammy, 27, runs a catering business and boutique pop-up burger bar, hopping markets and festivals all around Sydney.
A less fancy food choice, she revealed her influence isn’t from MKR days, but a result of her childhood growing up enjoying McDonald’s burgers.
‘When I was 15 I would babysit my little sisters and crave burgers and then attempt to make ones that tasted like McDonald’s. Now I’m ridiculously passionate about it – plus everyone loves a burger.’
And while it is a surprising avenue for the accomplished cook who now regularly appears on a cooking segment for Seven’s The Morning show, Sammy believes her experience on MKR was invaluable.
‘MKR pushed my technique and flavour combinations and really helped me up my burger game,’ she said.
Meanwhile, sister Bella has also taken a less traditional path, with a soon-to-be launched sauce range, aptly titled – ‘The Saucy Sister’ alongside a catering business and weekly The Morning Show appearances.
‘The catering business is my bread and butter – I didn’t want to just write a book after being famous for 15 minutes.’
For Bella, it’s been about getting dirty in the kitchen.
‘Working in the industry as a chef with blood, sweat and tears is what drives me – I love it,’ she said.
Her new sauce range features a harissa relish, Jamaican jerk ketchup, beer barbecue sauce and a fig balsamic glaze and has been created to ‘sex up’ otherwise simple food.
‘We bought a van to drive around in, a warehouse full of equipment as well as the operating costs and website,’ said Bella.
While they said there was initial post-MKR depression, they’ve kept grounded and worked hard to stay recognised.
‘Cooking isn’t just glamour – it’s about rolling up your sleeves, hard work and getting sweaty in the kitchen – you can’t just be famous and win a TV show.’
For Masterchef contestant Christina Batista, one of the final top five in the 2013 series, catering has paid the bills while she has been producing a pilot TV series filmed in Portugal.
Known on the show for her love of Portuguese food, Batista has since travelled to Portugal twice to pursue her food career.
She now is pitching a pilot series to networks in the hope to share her foodie voyage overseas.
While she believes she has the best job in the world now, it has been a hard journey.
‘After the show there were times when people weren’t banging on my door and wanting me to do things and you really have to decide to work hard to make it happen.’
However she believes Masterchef has still been a great launching platform.
‘It’s given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had.’
‘I was once at an event and saw [executive chef at Quay] Peter Gilmore – I hadn’t even told him I was on the show and he asked me about my experience on Masterchef and then offered for me to do work experience at Quay,’ said Batista.
‘It definitely opens more doors but you do need to work hard to keep those doors open – that’s the challenge,’ Batista said.
A challenge Masterchef contestant Sarah Todd, 28, has taken in her stride and appears to be conquering successfully.
The model-turned-food-entrepreneur from Melbourne appeared on last year’s series, and has since scored a cook book deal with Penguin and will open a restaurant in India in September.
The restaurant, positioned on a hill top overlooking the ocean in Goa, will seat 180 guests, have 14 luxury on-site villas and a cafe-pool bar below facing the sunset.
‘Ever since Masterchef I’ve had a massive following from people in India – I have an Indian husband and half Indian son, so after Masterchef aired, I did about three or four trips there, working with companies and I fell in love with it,’ she said.
‘A friend of mine took me around and showed me places to go and I became really good friends with a guy who has restaurants so we came up with the concept and jumped straight into it.’
With similar produce to Australia, the restaurant will focus on fresh, modern Australian cuisine and lots of seafood.
‘Masterchef is a real rocket for making your way into the industry. You do go on the TV show thinking things will be handed to you on a silver platter but you have to work hard.’
Yet despite retiring her apron, Todd said the ongoing support from the judges after the cameras stopped rolling has been a privilege most young chefs would only dream of.
‘Before I went to India, I had a great chat with Matt [Moran] – he gave me invaluable advice about how to plan and make it as successful as possible.’
As it seems, life afterwards isn’t half bad, the world really is their freshly, shucked oyster.