Kitchen and homewares buyer Abbey was overjoyed to win MasterChef Australia's Mystery Box challenge last week. And the aspiring chef believes it's her tough upbringing that helped her come out on top.
"My parents split when I was about seven and Mum and I really struggled financially," Abbey, 28, tells TV WEEK.
"Dad wasn't really in the picture at all. There were situations where we had to live in a car for a week and I had to be home-schooled, because the area we were in was a little bit rough. We really struggled."
In spite of their circumstances, Abbey says her mum Belinda never let her go without. In fact, it was Belinda who taught her how to cook on a budget, using basic ingredients.
"We'd go down to the markets and she'd buy everything that was on special," she explains. "I think that's what taught me how to not waste things and appreciate food. It was about learning to cook with what I had. There would be weeks when we could only afford baked beans.
"When I open my fridge at home, it's like a Mystery Box. I never know what I'm going to cook, as I buy what's fresh and in season. It doesn't come from a recipe book. I think that's what helped me in the challenge."
Abbey says her upbringing made her the person she is today.
"If anything, struggling at a young age taught me to be like, 'I'm going to learn from this and be bigger and better, and prove to the world that just because we struggled, doesn't mean we're not capable,'" she says.
"That made us fight for things more than other people would. Mum is proud of me for putting myself out there."
MasterChef Australia airs Monday to Thursday, and Sunday, 7:30pm, on Network 10.
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