MasterChef Australia Season 6 winner Brent Owens talks about his win

Brent Owens has been in love with food for as long as he can remember. For him, food is the greatest glue between people, a cultural connector that is the epicenter of every festival, occasion and event around the world. And after being crowned the winner of MasterChef Australia Season 6, this young Aussie will probably see just how much of a connector she is.

Owens, a bobcat operator and trader, who also played Australian rules football, rose the ranks to beat 23 other participants. It was a tough game, where you can never prepare due to so much pressure. “I didn’t think for a second that I could win this. There was always self-doubt,” says Owens, who started cooking at age 16 but made a career out of it much later.

After his win, he gave fellow contestant Emelia Jackson $50,000 as part of their deal. “We promised that whoever would win would give that amount of their winnings to the other,” said the 25-year-old, who is on a multi-city tour in India to promote the new season of MasterChef. Owens is currently in Mumbai exploring spicy Indian street food. “Everyone is worried about my stomach, worried if I’ll be able to digest all this,” he says with a laugh. He’s gone through most of Mumbai’s must-haves. “Sev puri, paani puri, vada pao, idli, dosa, pao bhaji, we don’t have anything like that in Australia,” he says, as his mind picks up ideas for incorporating some of these flavors into dishes at home. It is the bold flavors and unusual combinations that appeal to him and he is constantly looking for new aromas and concepts to give the classics a twist and reinvent the traditional. “You don’t have to be a skilled cook to get great results in the kitchen,” says Owens. It was even his adventures in the kitchen that convinced his fiancée and family that he had a future in cooking.

“My fiancé (Madison Ancrum) was the driving force behind me choosing MasterChef,” says Owens. He confesses that he may not have been to luxury restaurants in Australia and is not too familiar with fancy names of dishes, but if there is one thing he knows it is that food is meant to be cherished and shared. This is a common thread in his book, Dig In. Available online, Dig In showcases Owen’s signature style and culinary expression. “It’s a simple book, the ultimate cooking-yourself for beginners and those with busy lives,” says Owens.

Being adventurous with ingredients, finding substitutes in local produce, improvising on recipes is Owens’ mantra. There will be trials, mistakes, and disasters, he warns, but that’s part of learning. As a fan of salsas and salads, his food philosophy is to create something that is fun, healthy and delicious. “In India, for example, I learned how spices add layering and character to a dish,” says Owens.

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