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Sisters’ Market: an interview with Emelia Jackson

The sixth instalment of the Sisters’ Market is happening this Saturday in Brunswick. With last month market having a strong jewellery presence, this month’s centrepiece pivots towards the human senses; in particular, that of the taste and sound. Sitting alongside the personal approved craft stalls of variety taste and genre will be a strong collection of music and food stalls.

One particular feature of this month’s Sisters’ Market is the launch of 2014 MasterChef finalist Emelia Jackson’s cake business – Emelia Jackson Cake Designs. After her long period in MasterChef and narrowly missing out in competing in the final top two, Emelia has set her sights on desserts. We caught up with Emelia last week to discuss the life changing experience on MasterChef and her aspirations for the future.

SV: Where are you currently based?

EJ: Based in London but in Melbourne for the month. I had moved over in May of this year. It wasn’t plan, but it was a good time and with a friend of mine we just picked up and moved.

Before that, Emelia had taken some time travelling the globe and continually learning and experiencing all things sweet. She was also luckily enough to have done some cooking event in India, London and Portugal.

SV: Wow, India! How was the Indian experience and their liking to the ‘western’ dessert?

EJ: Sweet desserts in India is enormous and strangely really behind in the dessert scene. Something even simple can be quite impressive to the local eyes. I remember five or six years ago Australia had hit the cupcake craze, were they [India] have only just discovered and loving the cupcake. It’s really incredible because everyone loves dessert in India.

SV: We might as well touch on the elephant in the room – MasterChef. Being a semi-finalist and just missing out on the final two; in terms of the experience, did you learn a lot within that intense period and did you discover where you wanted to go in the food space?

EJ: You learn so much during that period, and even just about yourself and what you’re capable of doing. I just think I really honed into desserts, that’s what I always loved and had been stronger. I discovered that which was really good. Before the show, I wanted to open my own cafe and this [aspiration] has morphed into a cafe/patisserie store concept – that is the direction I’m heading towards.

SV: That’s great to see you wanting to get your branding and profile out to the public.

EJ: Yeah, plus I’m really bad at working for people.

SV: Do you think that being surrounded with some amazing talent, including the three judges’ and a long list of guest chefs gave you that push into the hospitality industry?

EJ: It’s without a doubt shows you what you can achieve. It’s also really good as I was planning on opening my cafe without any real industry experience, and would have been confronting if I had done it that way. It’s a great way to see what the industry is all about and the ability to network. I have meet some really incredible chefs that I wouldn’t have in any other circumstance, so it’ was great for that type of thing.

SV: I always have seen MasterChef as being a uni degree with a monstrous timetable that never allowed you to be social. I guess it not only allows you to see the glamorous side of TV, but also gives you a behind-the-camera perspective.

EJ: Well, when you’re filming you still think it’s glamorous, and as soon as you finish and go into a restaurant or something [in the hospitality industry] it’s so completely different. It’s an interesting transition into a commercial kitchen than the format of MasterChef.

SV: How did you find the transition back to the really world once MasterChef had drawn to a close?

EJ: I really struggled with it. It was quite challenging; we were film for almost six months and had very limited contact with family and friends (two, ten minute phone calls twice a week), so it was really challenging getting back to your life. Especially having this huge experience in your life and that you weren’t able to share. It’s a different experience from what you see on TV, which made it hard to relate with other people.

SV: After that experience, you did a bit of soul searching to recover from experience. What did you discover?

EJ: I released that I didn’t want to be a restaurant chef. And, I suppose you discovered a lot [throughout the journey]. As for someone who likes cooking and is good at it you become naive to the hospitality – that being it’s a lot of hard work and not always glamorous. Which is a good thing, but it wasn’t something I wanted.

SV: That’s good. We all never really know where we are heading. I had a manager who once told me to never plan more than a year ahead, as we don’t know where you going to be in the next three or five years’.

EJ: Yeah, totally. I never had expected to be residing in London and having my own cake business – in addition to my travel experience.

Emelia Jackson’s financier cake. Available at the Sisters’ Market

SV: What’s the idea behind Emelia Jackson Cake Designs?

EJ: It started as a small project. My best friend who is a web and graphic designer helped with the website and the photo-shoot before we headed to London. It’s great [launching the cake project] in a sense that I have been able to appear into so many great food stalls and markets in London. I’m hoping to break into more food markets in the next year. The main goal is to morph into a dessert business and having a patisserie store in Melbourne.

SV: You’re going to be appearing at the Sisters’ Market this November, how did you get involved and what are thinking of offering to your stall?

EJ: Greta [organising the PR] approached me and it just so happened that I was in Melbourne for the month, so I jumped at the opportunity. One of my good friends owns a dessert company [Burr cakes] and she appears most months, so I didn’t want to step on her toes. So I messenger her to say if she didn’t mind, and luckily she is appearing in the December instalment.

At the moment I’m excited about financier cakes, which is burnt butter and almond. It’s a combination of chewy and crunch – it’s just the best. So I’ll do those, but I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve just flown into Melbourne, so I’m still fighting the jetlag.

SV: Not to worry, there is still plenty of time and I’m sure you will have the Dutch courage to whip something up.

EJ: I’ll definitely be able to whip something up and there definitely be more than one thing on offer.

You can catch the full recording of our conversation with Emelia Jackson at our Sound Cloud page.

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The November Sisters’ Market will aim at more of a festival feel. The founder sisters – Marianna Gentilin and Roberta Lamberti – have curated a sound balance of music and food stalls to complement with their personally approved artists, makers and creators. It’s not only going to be a mouth-watering and sound pleasing sensation, but also inspires the imagination with offering Melbournians one-off gifts and pieces for the home or to wear.

The sisters have helped a number of local artisan markers launch their businesses, making this market not only one for the calendar but a hot spot to satisfy the tastebuds. It’s also the perfect opportunity to find unique and handmade gifts for Christmas.

More information about Emelia Jackson Cake Designs can be found here.

More information about The Sisters’ Market can be found here.

The important stuff

Where: 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick
When: 14th November/12th December
Price: Free
What to expect: high quality stalls that have been personally curated by the founders, offering great gifts for the home or the lead up to Christmas

Food in pictures

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