Li-Anne Kuek, 25, graphic designer and food stylist
Submission video recipe: Hummingbird cake
What sets you apart from the other finalists?
I’ve lived in Melbourne for the past eight years and being there has really strengthened my love for food. I thought I loved food when I was in Malaysia, but being there was just like the next level. I’ve been exposed to very diverse food cultures. I love experimenting with new ingredients and I’m very adventurous and want to share my food journey with everyone.
What do you currently do?
I’m currently a graphic designer and food stylist. I mainly do graphic design for cafes and restaurants. When a cafe or restaurant has a new menu, they ring me up and they say, “make the food look pretty!”
What is your favourite dish to make?
New York Cheesecake. Not only does it taste really good, it also holds a lot of memories for me. It’s the dish that all my friends always ask me to make when they haven’t seen me in a long time. That’s what food is all about – for people to enjoy.
What food do you absolutely hate?
I don’t like to dislike any food, but one food that I can’t learn to love is black liquorice. It is something I just can’t get my head around. I’ve tried to love it many times but it’s just not for me.
What’s the best piece of cooking advice you’ve received?
Always go with your instincts when you cook and always use the freshest produce, and celebrate it in a dish. The fresher the produce, the less cooking you need to do, and the dish will definitely shine.
What is your biggest pet peeve in the kitchen?
People who are afraid of handling certain ingredients, like octopus, because they think it’s slimy, or crabs, because they’ve never cooked it before. I think cooking is about getting out there and being hands-on. Just go for it!
Watch Li-Anne’s impressive submission video where she bakes a Hummingbird cake, yum yum.