KITCHEN STARS

Some of your MKR favourites share their tips and tricks on how to go from so-so to superstar in the kitchen

DAMO & CAZ

For Damo and Caz, the married sweethearts from Tasmania, performing in the kitchen is all about having a 'can do' attitude mixed with some fun.

"You have to put 110 per cent into everything you do while having a laugh. You need to be stress-free when you cook,” Caz says. Caz began cooking at an early age, preparing meals for her four younger brothers and sisters while her mum or step-dad did shift work.

"I'd help my step-dad cook roasts, chicken curry, shepherd's pie and oldstyle stews. It was all wholesome,flavoursome country food,” she recalls.

Damo developed his love of cooking after leaving home and having to fend for himself in the kitchen. He says learning through trial and error can help perfect cooking skills. "Don't be scared to experiment," Damo says.

"Some of my favourite dishes have come out of putting together ingredients that you think wouldn't work well, but they do.

"Try different things so you get an idea about flavours and what different ingredients can bring to a plate. And don't doubt your abilities — that will show up in your cooking."

KELSEY & AMANDA

Kelsey, a self-confessed sweet tooth, says her desserts make her a stand out in the kitchen. And she says producing a great dessert is a sure-fi re way to win friends and infl uence people!

"It's all about practice," she advises. "Practice until you get a dessert right. My nan was a fantastic cook and she made an amazing cheesecake. She insisted on only ever using Philadelphia cheese for the topping and Nice biscuits for the base.

I keep practising that cheesecake so, one day, it tastes as amazing as Nan's." For Amanda, superstar cooking means adding fresh herbs and spices to ensure dishes burst with flavour. She was also inspired to cook by her Irish-born nan, and by her daughter.

"I had my daughter when I was quite young — I was 19 — and I wanted to make sure she ate healthy food and that's when I really started teaching myself to cook," she says.

"I love salads, a good chicken or fish dish and seafood and I use plenty of fresh herbs and spices so food isn't boring. You can't go wrong if you keep things simple and fresh."

MARK & CHRIS

Mark began cooking with his Italian-born grandfather while he was still in primary school. They made pasta together and those fond moments instilled a lasting passion for good food.

"My grandfather would tell jokes as we rolled out the pasta, so I associate cooking with having fun and enjoying what you do.

I think that shows in the food you put on the plate," Mark says.

For Chris, organisation is the key to performing well in the kitchen, whether cooking a roast or whipping up a meringue.

"I moved out of home and lived alone for a few years and when I arrived home at the end of the day I was hungry and wanted something fast," Chris says.

"I learned quickly that being organised and having the right cooking equipment gets things done a lot more quickly."

Source: Originally published in the Home Edition News Corp Australia