MASTERCHEF Australia contestant Sara Oteri says she has learnt more in her few months on the show than she had in the past five years of cooking.
The 26-year-old, who grew up around Applecross and Booragoon and went to Penrhos College, has made it into the top seven of the reality cooking competition and said it had been an incredible experience.
�I would do it again in a heartbeat; it was so awesome on so many different levels,� she said.
Oteri, who moved to Melbourne four years ago, resigned from her job and a couple of months later decided to apply to MasterChef to �see what happens�.
�I was very much open to the universe I guess. I was just like �give me what you will and we�ll see where it takes me� and lo and behold, months later, this is where I am,� she said.
�It was harder than I was expecting but I was glad because it actually shows you that the people who make it on to the show are genuinely good cooks and they�ve got their heart in it.�
For those who think whipping up a couple of dishes is all there is to it, think again.
�It was a real unique experience but it was intense; months and months waking up early in the morning, finishing late, it takes a definite toll. You have to be mentally and physically able to do it,� she said.
And she had a message for viewers who were not so sympathetic to their emotions boiling over on screen.
�If you have a bad day in the kitchen, if anyone gets upset, you don�t cry over curd and you don�t cry over meringue, what you�re really crying about is that you could be going home and you�re so exhausted, emotionally, physically, everything,� she said.
�So that�s the reason we are so emotional and I think a lot of people judge us and go �why are you crying over a biscuit?�.
�It was never about the biscuit.�
Oteri said she learnt a lot about herself during filming MasterChef.
�You don�t realise how often you rely on the people around to pick you up when you�re down and when they�re not there, you really have to rely on yourself for everything,� she said.
�That was a great learning experience for me. I always thought I was a strong person but coming out the end of this I have grown an immense amount.�
While Oteri�s dream remains to open a cafe, she is eager to see what opportunities present themselves.
�At this stage it is like everything�s possible and there�s so many options; it�s quite overwhelming actually,� she said.