Croissant Queen Kate Reid Actually Auditioned For The First Season Of ‘MasterChef’
Kate Reid’s journey to producing the best croissants in the world is a fascinating one.
Pastry lovers queue up outside her Melbourne CBD and Fitzroy croissanteries for a taste of the golden, flaky, layered pastries that were deemed superior to croissants around the world, including those in France, by the New York Times.
Kate completed a five-year aerospace engineering degree and went on to work with Ford, Volkswagen and Formula 1 team Williams in the UK before realising that her childhood F1 dream wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be.
Upon returning to Melbourne, Kate decided to apply to the very first season of ‘MasterChef Australia’ having been a huge fan of the cooking competition when she lived in the UK.
“So that was 11 years ago and I made it to the stage before the top 24 was chosen and sent to Sydney,” Reid told 10 daily over the phone.
“It was the Melbourne final audition and I cooked a pan-fried piece of ocean trout on pilaf rice inspired by a Greg Malouf recipe, so really heavy with herbs and pistachio and butter,” she recalled.
Bad luck, or perhaps fate, intervened and Kate ended up being the last of a long line of contestants to serve up their dishes, finally getting in front of Gary, George and Matt at about 9 pm. Some miscommunication between producers and the probably very tired judges meant that Kate didn’t quite get the cooking time she was promised.
“Gary stopped me after four minutes and then he cut into the fish and he said, ‘Well I can’t put you through because the fish is raw in the middle’,” Kate explained.
“I kind of figured that was meant to happen, it was one of those sliding doors moments. If I had have made it through to 'MasterChef', Lune probably wouldn’t exist right now.
“So I feel lucky,” she said of the experience.
Instead of joining the ‘MasterChef’ class of 2008 alongside Poh Ling Yeow, Julie Goodwin and Justine Schofield, Kate set herself upon the path that would lead her to devote her life to the art of the croissant.
She began working her first proper hospitality job at a cafe in Melbourne and from there, applied for a stage (traineeship) at Paris’ most famous boulangerie, Du Pain et des Idees, under the tutelage of Christophe Vasseur, who had never taken on a non-French speaking protégée before Kate.
When she returned to Australia, armed with her viennoiserie skills and her aerospace background, Kate reverse engineered the classic French croissant and devised her completely unique way of creating the perfect moon shaped pastry -- eventually opening Lune in 2012.
The journey has sort of come full circle with Kate’s triumphant return to ‘MasterChef’ as a guest judge for the competition’s first ever two-day challenge to create her black forest croissant.
“It was so much fun,” she excitedly told 10 daily of the pressure test experience.
“I was just telling someone this morning that it was the most fun and exciting thing I’ve done outside of the four walls of Lune but linked to Lune. It was really great.”
The gruelling process is laid bare during the croissant challenge, although Kate’s operation actually takes three days, not two to complete. The contestants started the first day with some pre-prepared dough from Kate -- which also meant she didn’t have to hand over her top-secret recipe.
But the challenging operation of laminating, proving, baking and assembling every element of the croissant put Derek, Steph and Simon through their paces and was why Kate agreed to come on 'MasterChef'.
"I spoke to my brother and my business partner about that and we both decided that it was a really good opportunity to sort of show the world how hard it is to make a really good croissant and therefore, why it might be worth jumping in the queue at Lune and buying a really good one," explained Kate.
And ultimately, she felt a really strong affinity with a group of people who have decided to drop everything to change careers and follow their passion for food.
"They’re the ones that are ballsy enough and have really gone out on a limb and thought, I’m actually going to listen to this voice that tells me that I’m not happy in my current profession. I’m going to follow this passion that I have'.
"I think there are so many people out there that are unhappy in their jobs and they know that they love cooking but it’s a bit scary to change. You’re taking a big risk and if you didn’t love the first job you had, what’s to say you’ll love your next one?
"But you’ve got to give it a go."
You can watch Kate's epic croissant challenge tonight on Network 10, Win or 10 Play tonight from 7.30pm.