You would have to be hiding under a rock, living in the dark ages or playing Dungeons & Dragons in your mother’s basement not to have noticed the gowning cooking culture within Australia’s youth. Television shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules combined with social media, have made cooking appear ‘hip’ to our generation. But, beneath the trending hash tags, memes and tweets is something far more humbling; that all of this commotion is over something as simple as a plate of food.
One person happy to see this appreciation for cooking is self-confessed food nerd and Masterchef contestant, Alice Zaslavsky who states that her plan “is to be able to look back in 10 years time, and know that I’ve made a difference to the way that kids view food.”
Alice was trademarked on Masterchef not only because of her glasses, but her happy carefree attitude, something she attributes to being a firm believer in positive thinking.
“I have way more fun being an Optimist Prime than a Negatron. I try not to stay down on anything for too long and when I do feel bummed, I hum Monty Python songs in my head until it goes away. That usually does the trick. Oh, and I do a crap-load of Crossfit and try to eat organic as much as possible. It makes me zing like crazy (and have enormous hamstrings)” she explains.
Before heading onto the show, Alice was a school teacher, but two weeks into the Top 50 process she was given the choice to be at work on Monday morning or lose her job.
“I basically had to choose between following their path to job security and the satisfaction of knowing that I get to guide 60-odd kids a year or taking a massive punt and saying bugger it, I’m going to dip into my non-existent savings and make this happen” she said.
Although she was happy with her decision, she found it difficult to say goodbye to her “kids.” Since leaving she has had many of them cyber-stalk her which has slightly creeped out, but at the same time it makes her happy as it has given her a channel to keep teaching them in the way of the Z (they call her Miss Z because there’s no way they can spit out Zaslavsky at 8am on a Monday morning).
In addition to her love of food and teaching, fashion has always been important to Alice, which she sees as another way to tell a story.
“When I first started teaching, I’d pick out outfits that reminded me of teachers I’d seen in movies, like Michelle Pfeiffer in ‘Dangerous Minds’ (the shoulder pads got a few raised eyebrows, but I’m pretty sure I changed some lives that day) or Ms Mullins in ‘School of Rock’ (I was channelling disciplinarian because of a couple of chatty boys that I needed to set straight!).
“Since being on the show, my kids have said that they miss my wardrobe and I say I’m pretty sure my wardrobe misses me. I made the choice to keep things low-key in the MC kitchen, rather than trying to pretty myself up.
“I think it was a nice reminder for me that I was there to cook good, not look good” she said. In general, Alice finds that her three passions of food, fashion and fitness are often intertwined.
“I eat food that gives me the energy to train; I train so that I can eat whatever I want and so that I can look super cute in outfits. Most of which (if I’m not out or working) consist of training gear, it’s a vicious cycle of awesomeness” she explained.
Since leaving MC, Alice has been busy. She is working on a children’s book about Real Food; pitching a kids’ cooking show which has the premise of Totally Wild, but about food and she is in talks with an independent eyewear company to develop some Alice (in) frames, since all of hers are vintage.
You can track Alice’s movements www.alicez.com.au or follow her on Twitter.