From school sausage sizzles to MasterChef

Michael Weldon’s food journey has come a very long way since his days cooking sausages to raise money for Blackfriars water polo trips.

Michael (BPS’03) is a contestant in the new season of MasterChef Australia Fans and Favourites, which premieres on Channel 10 on Easter Monday.

It marks a return to the MasterChef kitchen for Michael, who was runner-up in the popular TV show’s 3rd season, in 2011, and appears this year as a “Favourite”, alongside the likes of Season 1 winner Julie Goodwin and Season 10 champion South Australian Sashi Cheliah.

Blackfriars old scholar Michael Weldon is in the new season of MasterChef Australia Fans and Favourites. Picture: 10 Play

“I did the barbecues with Jon (Harmer) for the water polo trips and I always joke that that was the thing that got me into cooking,” said Michael, who came to Blackfriars as a student in Year 5 and whose family ties to the school stretch back decades.

“I went on water polo trips to South Africa and Malaysia and to pay for it we did the barbecues, so I always said that was my introduction to professional cooking – $1 a sausage. I always enjoyed that.

“I definitely didn’t have the thought to become a chef at that stage, that was just something that fell into my lap with MasterChef, but I did enjoy cooking back then and did lots of cooking for family and friends.”

He said his return to MasterChef had been incredible.

“It’s not often you get a second chance, so I had to jump at it and haven’t regretted it,” he said.

MasterChef changed my life in 2011 and it’s done it again. I’ve had such a fun time making this … just to be back in that kitchen and having fun in that kitchen is just a really, really cool thing to experience. I feel very lucky to be someone to do it twice.”

But returning as a “Favourite” brought some additional pressure.

“Last time, I didn’t know what I was doing … this time I have a career and a reputation and it’s actually harder,” Michael said.

“But I also know that when it finishes, I will walk straight back into what I was doing … I have my position in food and this can only enhance it.”

In the years since that first appearance on MasterChef, Michael has worked in numerous restaurants, as well as appearing on the TV shows The Cook’s Pantry and Farm to Fork.

He is also Development Chef at Coles, a job that involves “developing products to make people’s lives easier”.

Blackfriars’ Food Science moves

Michael has heaped praise on Blackfriars for its move to, from 2024, introduce Food Science to the curriculum.

Work is due to start late this year on a new building, next to the Aquinas Centre, to accommodate the teaching of Food Science.

“I think it’s amazing. It makes me really happy and proud of Blackfriars to hear that,” Michael said.

“For me, cooking is just such an important skill set to have – whether it’s professionally, like I do, or just to be able to take care of yourself and feed yourself as a young man and a young adult, I think it’s one of those skills that you should have.

“It (Food Science) definitely wasn’t something that I was exposed to. We had really great options when I was at school, but cooking wasn’t one of them. It’s just that skill set that you can do so much with and I find food just makes people happy and cooking for people is just such a nice thing.”

Blackfriars’ new Food Science course will complement our existing health and physical education and science programs and provide an explicit pathway from middle years to Stage 2 Nutrition and/or Stage 2 Food Technology.

It will also deliver a springboard for students exploring a VET course in hospitality at TAFE.


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