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EXCLUSIVE: Julie Goodwin reveals the surprising job she took to keep food on her family's table

“We’ve managed to just hold on."

By Helen Vnuk
Julie Goodwin has hosted her own cooking show and published a string of best-selling books. But there was a time before she won MasterChef when she was working seven days a week, doing everything from cleaning houses to clowning at kids' parties.
"I've been heavily pregnant and taken my one-year-old baby with me to clean other people's houses," she tells TV WEEK.
"I've lived through doing whatever it takes to keep the wolf from the door."
As for dressing up a clown and entertaining at parties, that was sometimes tricky.
"That's cool, until you meet the kids that are terrified of clowns. That's not much fun."
Julie Goodwin has hosted her own cooking show and published a string of best-selling books. (Image: TV WEEK)
Julie, now 51, finds herself reliving some of the times in her life when money was tight in new documentary series Could You Live On The Breadline?. The series sees Julie spending time with people who are on welfare. Making it turned out to be an emotional experience.
"I found it very real, very confronting, actually – more than I expected," she says.
In the series, Julie bonds with a young woman who has set up her own café, only to see her dreams devastated by the pandemic. It reminds Julie of her cooking school on the NSW Central Coast.
"We've managed to just hold on, so my small business is reopening and we've got everything crossed that the momentum we had when we shut down will come back and that we'll be okay. But there's no guarantees and that's a pretty precarious place to be."
Julie, who has three adult sons, Joe, Tom and Paddy, with her husband Michael, has lived through some highs and lows since winning the first season of MasterChef in 2009. Early last year she went public with her battle with anxiety and depression. She says it's an "ongoing path to recovery".
"It's almost two years now since things really got critical, and I'm on a prescribed pathway of doing certain things," she explains.
"I swim in the ocean daily, I exercise, I mediate, I take medication, I talk to a psychologist, so I'm just doing all the things, and I'm told if I keep doing all the things, then the path will keep getting easier."
One thing that's bringing Julie a lot of joy right now is her first grandchild, Delilah, the daughter of her middle son Tom.
"She is just the apple of all our eyes. My son and his partner and Delilah have been living with us during lockdown, so I've got all my kids at home, even though they're in their twenties."
She says she's been "so lucky" to have them all with her.
In the new SBS documentary series Could You Live On The Breadline?, Julie spends time with people who are on welfare. (Image: SBS)
"I've had my family around me. I haven't been isolated from them, which I think would have broken my heart."
Julie has been caring for Delilah while Tom and his partner are working.
"I'm fully involved. I'm nappies, I'm feeding, I'm all of those things and loving it."
Next year, Julie will return to MasterChef for a new season, "Foodies Vs Favourites". She says she's watched every season since hers.
"I was away during much of the last season – I was on a road trip – but I watched it all when I got home. I love it. I still love learning things and I learn something new every time I watch MasterChef."
One thing that's bringing Julie a lot of joy right now is her first grandchild, Delilah. (Image: Instagram)
She's also enjoyed watching Celebrity MasterChef.
"I was on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! with Chrissie Swan and she and I and Joel Creasey spent the whole time talking about food. It drove everyone mental because everyone was hungry, so I knew she was a good cook."
Julie says the past couple of years have been "very contemplative" for her. She's looking forward to what's ahead, but no matter what happens, she's got Delilah.
"I have a granddaughter whose face lights up when I walk in the room and that is enough."
Julie won MasterChef back in 2009. (Image: Ten)

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