celebrity

A vegan smokehouse and a YouTube series: Everything we know about MasterChef’s Simon Toohey.

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

MasterChef: Back to Win has graced our screens for seven glorious weeks now, serving up some fierce competition and mouthwatering dishes that we have absolutely no chance at recreating at home.

With only 11 contestants left this season, households all over the country are nervously cheering on their favourite contestants, including loveable 33-year-old chef Simon Toohey.

If you’re not watching MasterChef: Back to Win, here’s what you’re missing out on. Post continues below.

Video by Channel Ten

We first met Simon last year, when he placed third in the competition.

For Simon, getting as far as the top five was “a ridiculous concept”.

“It’s awesome, I’m not going to say no to it… but, who am I right now?!” he told 10 Daily last year.

Throughout his time on the show, Simon as proved himself a whizz in the kitchen but cooking wasn’t actually his first choice of a career.

“I wanted to be a psychologist, but my marks for my final year of school exams didn’t reach what I needed to be one,” Simon told flora & fauna earlier this year.

“So I went into the first job that came to me, working in a tiny pizza restaurant, down the road from my house.  It was so busy and I learnt to work hard and fast. I loved the speed and the food and I got paid doing something I loved. I was hooked.”

Simon’s love of food and hospitality eventually took him all over the world.

After living in Byron Bay for a few years, the 33-year-old chef bought a one-way ticket to the United Kingdom, where he lived for five years.

There, Simon worked as a cocktail bar manager and eventually earned his bar the title of the best cocktail menu and best high volume cocktail bar at the Tales of the Cocktail awards in New Orleans.

While it was an incredible achievement, Simon realised he wanted to pursue his dream of cooking.

“I always loved food and as my late-night, hard-partying and long hours started to take a toll, I decided it was time to move to the thing I was craving the most. I studied Gastronomy in Edinburgh and loved it. Finally, I made the leap into the food world,” he told the publication.

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His passion for food landed him in the MasterChef kitchen, which he described as “the most intense experience”.

“It’s a beautiful environment, the people are kind to each other, the feedback is constructive and positive, everyone looks after each other because we know we’re in the same boat and it’s a very stressful time,” he told The Canberra Times in 2019.

Simon said some of his best memories from the show were the house dinners cooked by the other contestants.

“There was good food every night, there were five bedrooms and each night a different room would cook. Because of the mix of people we’d be getting all sorts of things. Tati would be cooking the most beautiful Indonesian food, Dee would be making Sri Lankan, Yossra and Walleed were cooking these beautiful Middle Eastern slow-braised stews, it was just awesome,” he told the publication.

During his time on the show last season, Simon wowed fans with his vegan creations and use of seasonal vegetables.

So it comes as no surprise that he went on to open a pop-up vegan smokehouse in Melbourne after the grand finale last year. More recently, Simon has co-founded the Sustainable Earth Network, which focuses on using whole ingredients and fighting food waste.

“We’ve grown up in a society of meat and three veg, and the veg is overboiled, done badly and dumped in a pool of water. No wonder no one likes those,” he told 10 Daily last year.

Having grown up with a dad who worked for the Cattle Council of Australia, Simon wants to change the way we think about food and put more of an emphasis on vegetables rather than meats to reduce waste.

“It’s about advertising great food, farmers that get their hands dirty and growing produce that’s important to us,” he told the publication, adding, “celebrating great vegetables and flavours people have forgotten about.

“If I can change people’s mindset, then we’re doing a good job, and then we can look at minimising food waste.”

He’s also gone on to start a Youtube series ‘The Whole Thing’ on the Sustainable Earth Network Youtube Channel, where he shows viewers how to use every part of the vegetable.

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Outside of cooking, Simon is in a relationship with Georgia Radley, who he was dating during his first appearance on MasterChef. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

smiling on the outside but “give us our boy back” on the inside great hustle fam bam ♥️

A post shared by Georgia Radley (@g_rrad) on

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Simon and Georgia also look to be close friends with fellow MasterChef contestant Callum Hann and his wife Crystal Jagger.

Georgia shared a “pre-rona family portrait” of the four of them together on Instagram last month.

Earlier this year, Simon announced he was heading back to the competition for a second time.

“When you get a ‘Once in a lifetime’ Opportunity twice – You’d be mad not to take it!” he wrote on Instagram.

“I am now feeling more inspired, more daring, more informed and more creative than ever… A dream come true!! LET’S DO THIS!”

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And with only 11 contestants left, Simon has a good shot at taking out the title.

Feature Image: Instagram @simon.toohey/Ten. 


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