Speaking to HuffPost Australia, the 22-year-old – whose parents are both from Indonesia’s Surabaya – recalled feeling out of place during her formative years when taking more traditional food to school.
“I’ve been living in Melbourne for about 18 years and I think we forget we are Asians and the fact that yes, we did at school have rice for lunch and it was a bit weird,” she told HuffPost Australia. “We always had weird snacks or Asian groceries.”
After moving to Melbourne with her family at a young age, Jess was surrounded by cultural influences when her parents opened a restaurant specialising in a fusion of Thai, Malay and Indonesian cuisine.
“To see diversity come onto the screens on MasterChef, it is just phenomenal,” said Jess.
She explained seeing a multitude of cultures on the show proved “it’s not weird, that it’s just the culture that it is”.
“It’s amazing and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”
Earlier in the season Jess impressed the judges during an instant noodle challenge, before going on to make one of her favourite ‘comfort foods’.
She cooked a Thai Duck Curry with Roti Canai, Prawn Chilli Powder and Coconut Rice.
“My parents have a Thai/Malaysian/ Indonesian cuisine restaurant and then red curry was one of our most popular dishes and I’d always watch from afar, my dad making the red curry,” said Jess.
‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10.