MasterChef catapulted Julie Goodwin from a working mum to national celebrity. She tells Larry Writer about her new-found fame – and the family legacy that inspires her passion for good food.
MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin knew her life had changed forever when she visited the local supermarket to buy mementoes for the funeral book of her grandmother, Edna. "This lady behind the counter recognised me and said, 'I'm going to announce on the PA that you’re in the store', and I told her, 'Don't you dare!' She did it anyway. 'Attention all customers! Julie from MasterChef is here. Come say hello!'
"A crowd of shoppers rushed up. Everyone was lovely, but I’ve always treasured my privacy and I was so sad about Nan, who had just passed away, so I really didn’t feel like chatting, but I put on a smile and I did."
Julie says it’s a blessing "that Nan lived long enough to see me win. Throughout the show, she was the star of the nursing home. She took a bad turn while I was in the MasterChef house and I was expecting a sad call every day, but she held on and we all got to say goodbye to her. It was beautiful. We couldn’t have scripted it any better. She slipped away peacefully, aged 90. She was so excited for me."
Nan wasn/t the only one. MasterChef transformed Julie, 38, from a suburban working mum whose cooking was appreciated only by husband Mick, 38, and sons Paddy, 10, Tom, 12, and Joe, 13, into a beloved national celebrity whose rich and hearty fare is being replicated by hundreds of thousands of Australians. "None of us on the show had any idea the program would capture people’s imaginations like it has," says Julie, who won $100,000, a cookbook contract, lessons with leading chefs and a guest column in The Weekly.
"Life has been a whirlwind and the dust hasn’t settled yet," she says. "My victory didn't really sink in until I was sitting in my lounge room [at home in Niagara Park, on the NSW Central Coast] with my boys, family and friends, watching the grand finale on TV, which was screened a fortnight after it was filmed and I couldn't breathe a word, except to my husband and sons.
I knew the outcome, but still, I was sitting on the edge of my seat! When I won, Mick and I went mad all over again."
Read more in the September issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, out now with Therese Rein on the cover.