reality tv

The youngest chef and a foodie family: Everything we know about MasterChef's Jess Liemantara.

To catch up on all things MasterChef Australia 2020, make sure you check out our MasterChef hub. We’ve got you completely covered.

If you’re watching MasterChef this season, you’ll definitely know and love 22-year-old Jess Liemantara.

Despite being the youngest cook in the competition, she continues to stand out like fellow contestants Poh Ling Yeow and Reynold Poernomo, blowing the judges away with both sweet and savoury dishes (hello, pimped up noodles).

If you’re not watching this season of MasterChef, here’s what you’re missing. Post continues below.

Video by Channel 10

But there’s plenty more to the bubbly young chef than just great cooking.

Here’s everything you need to know about Jess Liemantara.


View this post on Instagram


I walked out of my kitchen and found myself back here in the #MasterChefAU kitchen. oh what have i done! Excited, scared and nervous

A post shared by Jess Lemon (@_jesslemon_) on


Jess was born in Perth, but at the age of one, her parents and brother Jeremy relocated to Melbourne. She was raised in an Indonesian family.

She was introduced to cooking at a very young age, as her parents opened up a restaurant called Taste of Java in Perth and then later, the Foodtopia Fusion Cafe in Melbourne, which specialised in Thai, Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Her grandmother and aunt taught her how to bake as a kid, introducing her to the world of sweets.

“My brother and I both helped my parents in the restaurant, I managed floor operations, till management and barista [duty] and my brother worked as the chef along with my dad. My mum took on the role as the boss and inspired my brother and I to pursue being entrepreneurs ourselves,” Jess told the Australia Indonesia Youth Association.

And after all her practice working for her parents, by 17 she was a food and beverage attendant at the world-renowned Japanese restaurant Nobu in Melbourne.

“Being on the other side as a waitress is [very] different to the level of intensity, and is not as stressful as being the kitchen. The chefs work extremely hard to make sure food is consistent and of high quality,” she explained.


However, clearly cooking became her real passion, as she began teaching herself different culinary tools.

“I’ve never been great at school but I excel in food technology. Before I knew it, I had so much knowledge and technique drilled into my head. I just couldn’t stop myself from learning more and more about different techniques such as glazing, tempering chocolate and making macarons,” she told Berries and Spice.

After seeing the chefs in that kitchen and teaching herself some skills at home and school, Jess realised that intensity was what she craved, which led her to audition for another iconic cooking show.

In 2017, Jess applied for The Great Australian Bake Off. However, after getting knocked back, she applied for MasterChef season 10.

“The opportunity to audition for MasterChef 2018 came along and friends and family pushed me to audition for the show. I didn’t feel fit enough for the opportunity just after not going further in my recent audition for The Great Australian Bake Off. After much nagging and support from family and friends I decided to give it a go.

“I handed in my application and after a month received an email requesting to schedule in an audition. From then on I was short listed to the top 50 contestants to cook for the three judges. To this day I still cannot believe the amazing journey that got me to that very special day,” she explained.


During her audition, Jess won over Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris with her chocolate orange mousse, and successfully received an apron and a top 24 spot on-air.


View this post on Instagram


I love citrus and so happy my Chocolate Orange Mousse with Orange Curd got me into @masterchefau #masterchefau

A post shared by Jess Lemon (@_jesslemon_) on

Jess continued to cook phenomenal, whimsical desserts and killer Asian dishes throughout the season until she ended up coming fourth overall. She was 19-years-old at the time.

“Being the youngest in the competition was definitely hard. I had the MasterChef family who constantly got me through each day no matter how tough or scary it was. I felt like regardless of age, we were a great bunch of contestants who treated one another like their own brother and sister. They made my journey so fun and such an emotional rollercoaster,” Jess said.


View this post on Instagram


What an absolute journey it has been I never thought I’d make it this far in the competition. Cannot believe I’ve cooked over 50 times. I cannot put into words how thankful and grateful I am to be mentored so wonderfully by the judges @gcalombaris @garymehigan @mattscravat they’ve taught me everything I needed to get me started in my cooking career. From starting off as a messy cook to a more organised cook is just the best teaching I received. Having learnt so much in this journey I am so thankful. The professional chefs and people I meet are just phenomenal. I’m so glad to be in a completion where all of the contestants want each other to do well I love them all and they continue to inspire me. I am so thankful to the masterchef crew who has given me the support and love that you won’t find anywhere but here in masterchef the most hardworking team in the whole world. And lastly but not least to all my fans and supporters thankyou for supporting me and living this journey with me I am forever grateful and this is not the end will continue to pursue my dreams ????

A post shared by Jess Lemon (@_jesslemon_) on


And despite missing out on the winning title, Jess won life-long friends in Brendan Pang and Reece Hignell.

The trio are nicknamed ‘The Audreys’, which Reece explained came from matching toy monkeys named Audrey that Jess bought them.


After appearing on season 10, Jess gained as much experience as possible.

“Having quit my previous job as a waitress, I wanted to pursue my passion as a chef. I searched for work experience and was lucky enough to do be able to undertake professional experience at The Press Club and Omnom,” Jess shared.

Later, she paired up with Peter Rowland Catering to create ‘Jess Lemon by Peter Rowland,’ an online dessert range, and was a guest chef at a number of catering events.

In October 2019, Jess released her first cookbook, A Zest of Jess.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jess Lemon (@_jesslemon_) on

Now, Jess is back in the MasterChef kitchen, cooking for the winning title in this season of MasterChef: Back to Win.

So far, she has cooked some incredible dishes including her most recent winner, a duck red curry that won her an immunity pin.


Oh, and we get to witness the most wholesome friendship on television again. The Audreys are back together!

Read more about MasterChef 2020: 

Feature image: Instagram/ @_jesslemon_