‘Junior MasterChef Australia’ contestant Phenix may only be 11 years old, but she knows exactly what career path she’d like to pursue in the future.
“When I grow up… I want to be a businesswoman like my mum and I want to be a chef and baker like my dad,” she told HuffPost Australia.
It’s clear her loved ones have had a strong influence on her love for food and cooking, and no one is more proud of Phenix than her mother, Ann.
As the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who came to Australia in the late 1970s, Ann was born and brought up here rarely seeing anyone who looked like her on television. Now her daughter will be that figure of representation when she makes her reality TV debut on Sunday night.
“I think she doesn’t actually realise how big of a thing she’s doing right now,” Ann said of her little girl. “Everyone’s really excited she’s representing the Vietnamese culture.”
Phenix’s parents have been working in the hospitality industry over the past decade, with her father most recently a chef in a bistro, while Ann runs Sydney café, Mama Hongs Vietnamese, which is named after her own mother.
“As a female, I watched my mum struggle raising us, coming over here with nothing and not speaking the language, but she worked her butt off,” said Ann. “She really taught me perseverance. That is something I hopefully have been able to pass on to Phoenix.
“And also in showing her that females can go out there and achieve everything and anything they want to. They’re just as strong and I hope that she [Phenix] can inspire other young ladies.”
Phenix has grown up surrounded by food, and remembers cooking from a very young age.
“The first time I started cooking, I was five years old and my dad would help me cook in the kitchen, or more I would help him and we would bake together,” she said.
“My dad was a very big help for this MasterChef journey because he was very supportive and he definitely gave me a lot of tips and he taught me a lot of technical skills.”
While she loves making “comfort food that includes chips and chicken wings”, she also enjoys exploring her cultural heritage through cooking.
“My grandparents from my mum’s side were definitely a big help as well,” she said, “because they taught me a lot of traditional Vietnamese dishes”.
Phenix is one of 14 contestants aged 9-14 who will compete in the kitchen.
‘Junior MasterChef Australia’ premieres on Sunday October 11 at 7:30pm on Channel 10.
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