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Masterchef

EXCLUSIVE: The powerful way MasterChef helped Billie McKay get a “bit of me back” after becoming a mother

''It made me a better person.''

By Faye Couros
Billie McKay made history on Tuesday night when she became the first person to win MasterChef twice.
A fan favourite from the get-go, the season seven winner delivered a stellar final cook (despite an unset panna cotta), which saw her beat co-finalist, Sarah Todd, by two points.
Speaking exclusively to TV WEEK Billie, 31, admits that she "can't believe" she did it again, and that she's "pretty proud" of her achievement.
Billie is the first person to win MasterChef twice. (Image: Ten)
Whilst the glory of winning the competition twice isn't lost on her, Billie's most grateful for reconnecting with her love of cooking.
In 2020 during the most chaotic year of the pandemic, she gave birth to her first child, Ada, and decided to take a step back from the kitchen to enjoy life with her baby girl.
But when she got the call from Network 10 producers about Fans and Favourites, her gut told her to take the chance.
"It was just a gut feeling. I really had to consider the sacrifices to go back and knowing that it could be for quite a long time," she says.
" I think I decided because I'm probably one to follow my gut, and I thought we'll just have to give it a go."
"I just had this gut feeling that I should." (Image: Ten)
After taking a break from cooking, it took going on the show for Billie to regain her confidence and get back in touch with her passion.
"I sort of was forgetting myself a little, but in those early days [raising her daughter] and then not cooking as much as I had been, and cooking for me, it's my favourite thing to do," she admites.
"So, you stop doing that, and you're sort of not enjoying yourself as much as you should be. Not being in that food industry and surrounded by food, I think was pretty hard as well.
"I am so grateful that I got that phone call to go back because it's given me a bit of me back."
Billie with her husband Haydn Suridge. (Image: Instagram)
Of course, it was hard being away, but the mother-of-one believes it made her "a better person."
"Having to leave my daughter at home was very challenging. It was definitely something I had to think about when deciding to come back. That was probably the hardest thing, but because we were so busy at the time, it was a bit easier on me than it was probably on my husband," she reflects.
Every contestant from Fans and Favourites has spoken highly about their time in the famous kitchen, and Billie reveals that the new format helped them become close faster than last time.
"I think last time may have felt a little more competitive, and we were all living in the same house together. This time around, we had a bit more space and a bit of our own space, which was really nice.
"It was different, and I think we bonded a lot quicker than we would have if it was just the regular format."
"I think last time may have felt a little more competitive." (Image: Ten)
Along with earning the title of MasterChef's two-time winner Billie also took home a quarter of a million dollars.
When asked how she plans to spend it, she shares, "I'm still processing that fact. But it's definitely going towards a cooking venture of some sort. I want to open a restaurant where I live."

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