They say money makes the world go round. And for Kristen Sheffield, having to take time off work to pursue MasterChef Australia meant she struggled to make ends meet.
"Obviously you get an allowance being on the show," Kristen says. "But it's certainly nothing compared to what I was getting paid at my job."
Before stepping into the MasterChef kitchen, Kristen, 27, was working as an urban planner in South Australia.
"I'm lucky enough to have been granted leave without pay and didn't have to resign to take this opportunity," she says. "But financially, it means I've taken a step back."
Lack of funds isn't the only thing Kristen has struggled with since being on the show.
"Every day has been stressful," she explains. "It's a bit of an emotional roller-coaster and you constantly feel on edge. The whole competition is nerve-racking and I've felt a bit anxious."
Living with 23 other contestants has also been a challenge.
"Even living with one person, you're bound to find something that irritates you. So learning to live with 23 is interesting," Kristen laughs.
"It's tough, but everyone is here for the same reason and with the same passion.
"So, most of the time, it's a supportive environment. There's not a lot of bitchiness."
Kristen wasn't the only contestant who felt the financial pressure during the competition.
Brendan Pang says he 'gave up everything' to go on the show, which put a lot of pressure on him to succeed.
"I gave up my job, friends and family and moved back home," Brendan, 24, reveals to TV WEEK. "That was a big step back for me.
"I'd also just graduated from university and moved into a secure, professional job."
After scoring his dream job as a social worker in Broome, Brendan made the tough choice to leave work behind for his chance on the reality cooking show.
"I've given up the job for good now," Brendan says of his decision.
"It does make me nervous – I feel like it puts a lot of pressure on me, because I quit my job. Now, I need to make it worth it, because of what I've given up."
Despite the pressure, Brendan and Kristen have been successful on this season of MasterChef, making it well past the initial stages of the Top 24.
The pair are currently sitting in the Top 11, alongside fellow contestants Ben Borsht, Chloe Carroll, Hoda Kobeissi, Jess Liemantara, Khan Ong, Reece Hignell, Samira Damirova, Sarah Clare and Sashi Cheliah.
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Australian Women's WeeklyFeb 14, 2019