‘Best Friends Ever Since’: The Beautiful Origin Story Of MasterChef’s Andy Allen And Ben Milbourne
Andy Allen and Ben Milbourne are going to be sharing the MasterChef kitchen once again, but things are going to be very different from the first time they cooked together.
During the show’s fourth season in 2012, the pair forged their friendship while cooking shoulder-to-shoulder in a race against the clock but MasterChef: Back To Win will see them separated on either sides of the bench.
Andy will be joining the brand new judging panel with Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo, placing him with the unusual task of scoring the dishes plated up by his best mate Ben, who is returning as part of the top 24 contestants who are back to win.
Speaking to 10 daily ahead of the new season, Ben said he’s actually used to Andy’s critique, because their discussions about flavour and constantly improving their culinary skills is an important foundation of their relationship.
“Andy’s been critiquing my food since the day I met him, it’s just a natural thing,” Ben said.
“We’ve done so many cooking events together, travelled round the world together, we’ve been doing it constantly,” he added.
While Ben explained that he’s keen to take all the judges’ advice on board, it’s Andy’s feedback that he takes most seriously.
“His is the one I would take the most from, that I would listen to, because he knows my food experience, he knows what I’m aiming for -- if he speaks, I listen.”
Since 2012, the pair have relied on each other for advice and support as they both took on the world with Andy becoming head chef and co-owner of The Three Blue Ducks in Sydney, Ben opening his restaurant CharlotteJack in Devonport.
They’ve also hosted Ben And Andy Eat Australia together as well as separate projects including Ben’s Food Lab and Andy’s Farm To Fork.
It makes sense that Ben and Andy still share a tight bond after their season of MasterChef because their first meeting at the show’s audition stage is straight out of a bromantic comedy.
“We were lined up along a big table and you’ve got to bring a cold dish that’s plated in 5 minutes,” Ben told 10 daily. “We plated, not knowing each other, the exact same dish, basically,” he said.
“I did a ceviche of Tasmanian scallops with a mango and chilli salsa and he did a ceviche of NSW snapper with a mango and chilli salsa and we kind of looked at each other and we walked out of the room and started chatting.
“We went out for dinner that night and then that was it, best friends ever since,” explained Ben.
Andy was even entrusted with a responsibility that some might take advantage of -- choosing a mystery tattoo for his best mate while they were traveling together in Spain.
“Andy went into a tattoo parlour in Madrid, picked a tattoo and I had no idea what it was going to be,” he told 10 daily. “And I went in and laid down on the table and they did a tattoo without me seeing it, which shows you how much I trust him.
“He was very, very smart, he got my wife’s name,” he said, rolling up his sleeve to show off the tat.
With the pair in constant communication, it didn’t take long for them both to suss out that they’d both been asked to get involved with MasterChef: Back To Win -- even if they couldn’t overtly admit it.
Ben said that while he trusts Andy inherently when it comes to feedback about the food he’ll plate up during the new season, it’ll still take him a little time to get used to their new roles.
“It’s going to be a bit different with him on the other side because we’ve never...since leaving in 2012, everything we’ve ever done has been side by side.
“For the first time, we’ll be opposite each other.”