Known for his colourful shirts and panna cotta attempts, pharmacist Ben Trobbiani made the top 10 in this year’s season of MasterChef… we interview him now that the show has wrapped up
Ben Trobbiani, 24, quickly became a favourite in the competition and made it as far as the top 10 of MasterChef’s eleventh season.
The Adelaide pharmacist was eliminated following a “zero-waste” challenge set by renowned Italian chef Massimo Bottura after choosing to cook duck – a choice that was criticised by the judges, especially after he only cooked a small portion of the duck.
“Well that was a quackingly poor cook! Pretty big brainfade in the kitchen,” said Ben on Instagram after being eliminated.
“I’m sad to be leaving the MasterChef kitchen tonight, but incredibly happy and proud looking back on my journey through this competition. From back-to-back eliminations to back-to-back immunity cooks it’s been a rollercoaster.”
MasterChef aired its finale nearly two weeks ago, with 22-year-old Larissa Takchi taking out the top prize.
Larissa and Ben had cooked a few times as a team during the competition.
A pharmacy graduate from the University of South Australia, Ben worked in community pharmacy for a few years before entering the MasterChef kitchen.
He completed his internship year at Priceline Pharmacy Norwood after graduating in 2016, then worked at Priceline Pharmacy South Gate Plaza before taking on a locum role.
Following AJP‘s in depth interview with Ben a few months ago, we decided to ask him some quickfire questions to get to know him better – his thoughts about pharmacy and food – as well as his plans for the future.
1. Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Dinner without a doubt! You’ve usually got a whole lot longer to cook dinner and enjoy eating it too! Plus, I think everyone puts more effort into what they either cook or go out to eat when it comes to dinner.
2. Coffee, tea or drinks?
I’m a coffee lover.
3. Day person or night owl?
I’m a bit of a night owl honestly. Early morning opens were always a lowlight!
4. Favourite cuisine?
I don’t think I have a favourite single cuisine honestly and always fall back on the answer of liking ‘Australian cuisine.’ I really view Australia as just a melting pot of cultures and that’s represented through our food. We don’t have a distinct cultural cuisine, so you can take inspiration and ideas from multiple cultures and combine them together.
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5. Best part about MasterChef?
The people and friendships I’ve made over the season are undoubtedly the best bit from the series! I’ve got a 24-strong food family now and some people I count as friends for life.
6. Worst part about MasterChef?
Being away from home, friends and family for such a long time with very little contact was the worst bit. You really miss just talking to and hanging out with those closest to you.
7. Best part about pharmacy?
Regular customers and seeing people’s quality of life increase due to medication and advice you’re helping them with. It makes you feel like you’re really making a difference in these people’s lives.
8. Worst part about pharmacy?
I’d say most likely the repetitiveness of the work most days, but that’s just something that comes with the job and making sure you have a good process to ensure no mistakes in your dispensing.
9. What are you up to currently?
I’m currently pursuing multiple food opportunities around the place. I’ve been doing work experience at Orana, have a few cooking demos coming up, working with the amazing charity Food Bank on some very exciting projects, writing some articles about food and trying to iron out details around a pop restaurant focusing on native Australian ingredients.
10. Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Tough question! Hopefully in a career where I feel happy about the work I’m doing daily with a charity aspect if possible, whether that is in the pharmacy field or the food field.
11. Advice for young pharmacists?
Learn as much as you can from your fellow pharmacists and assistants, and shape the type of pharmacist you want to be from their positive aspects. Accept you can’t know everything immediately and you will need to consistently learn. Be 100% certain of the advice you are giving, reflect regularly on what you’ve done. Have a moral code and stick to it.
12. Advice for budding chefs?
I’m far, far less qualified to answer this one! Really it would be to learn as much as possible from your mentors, put your head down and work as hard as possible no matter the job, understand how important your mental and physical health are and always keep track of them, try your hand at as many places as possible and don’t settle for less.
13. We’ve gotta ask… why panna cotta?
This is an easy one! If you’ve ever had a perfectly made panna cotta you’ll know that it’s a really great textured dessert that melts in your mouth and releases the flavour when it happens.
For the first one of that week I chose a panna cotta so that you’d get that strong cream flavour at the start (since I didn’t heat the cream) then when it melts it’ll release the pepper flavour. The idea was that you’d get both strawberries and cream and strawberries and pepper flavours in one dessert that would combine both in a fun way.
The second was because cereal milk flavour isn’t as strong when you freeze it (and hence parfait/ice cream/semifreddo are off the menu) and cereal milk panna cottas are pretty classic.
The third was due to the challenge having to be an exact copy, and hence setting something is the perfect way to have an exact copy. Classic pharmacy here, always have evidence for your decisions!