Like many Australians in 2009 my family regularly watched and enjoyed MasterChef Australia so I was interested to see whether the cookbook would be primarily a promotion tool for the show or a useful cooking aid. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the second option is the case. The book continues the show's premise, apart from being a cooking contest, of encouraging the enjoyment of cooking and providing practical information on cooking techniques.
The initial chapters provide advice on general ingredients - how they can be used and storage hints, tools and equipment, how to chop vegetables - basic knife skills, dicing onions, slicing carrots and cubing potatoes - and plating up food. The rest of the book contains recipes for dishes prepared on the show by contestants, by some of the guest chefs and in the master class sessions. In some sections additional guidelines are provided. For example in the vegetable section information is provided about choosing the right type of potato, different types of onions and how to skin tomatoes. Information in other sections includes poaching eggs like a professional, jointing chickens, filleting fish, cracking open crabs and extracting meat from a lobster. At the beginning of each recipe the contestants comment on the dish and how they might do it differently. The book is fully illustrated with photographs and clearly set out making it easy to use. There is an index plus glossaries of ingedients, terms and equipment.
This would be an excellent book for those setting out on the cooking adventure as well as a useful book for those wanting to experiment with food. And yes, the recipe for Adiano Zumbo's croquembouche can be found on page 216 for those brave enough to try it.