Julie Goodwin won MasterChef. The Weekly gave her a career.

"I learnt at the feet of giants".

The day after she won the inaugural series of MasterChef Australia in 2009, Julie Goodwin burst into tears. However it wasn’t being anointed winner that had her feeling emotional. Instead it was the offer which followed – a columnist role at The Australian Women’s Weekly, a title she would go on to hold for close to 10 years.

A supplied photo of the winner of Network Ten's reality show MasterChef Julie Goodwin (left) and runner-up Poh Ling Yeow at the conclusion of the show on Sunday, July 19, 2009. Goodwin became Australia's first ever MasterChef. (AAP Image/Ten)

“I was so thrilled and so overwhelmed actually even to be on the radar of this publication that had been a part of my whole life,” she explains today of those joyful tears. “My mum always had The Weekly in the house. I certainly knew it was the go-to magazine for food. It was the food title of choice for me. I was just blown away.”

Coming into the Test Kitchen for the first time was a revelation, she recalls. While she was someone who had always loved to cook for her family, Julie had never followed a recipe let alone attempted to write one.

“It was amazing because at the same time I was commissioned to write a book and I had never written a recipe in my whole life,” she says. “So to be actually taken under the wing of the food team at The Women’s Weekly and trained in their discipline – which is the gold standard of recipe writing – was incredible.

Julie Goodwin on The Australian Women's Weekly dream team

“It’s not just because it’s triple tested, it’s the actual mechanics of the recipe, how it reads, how it works. To write a recipe in the ingredients, you put the ingredients in the order that you’re going to use them. The sentences have to be in a certain order of how you write down everything. It was a real discipline that I learned and I was so grateful for that. I learnt it at the feet of giants of the publishing industry and the food sector.”

“One of my driving principles since Masterchef is that my recipes must work. They must be achievable. People must be able to have success with them in their own kitchens. And that’s very much a Women’s Weekly priority.”

It wasn’t just recipe writing Julie would take away. The Weekly’s food photography, styling and all that happened behind the scenes formed a basis for her own cookbooks in the years to come. MasterChef may have given her a platform, says Julie, but it was The Weekly which would give her a career.

“It allowed me to have some credibility because obviously The Australian Women’s Weekly is not a fluffy publication,” she says of the lasting impact. “It’s a publication that takes everything it does seriously and does it top standard. So to be taken on by The Weekly, trained by The Weekly and kept for nearly 10 years? I’m not just a reality TV show contestant, I’m a Women’s Weekly columnist and that to me had some gravitas to it.”

inspire - comfort food - Julie's Winter Puddings - Julie Goodwin in The Australian Women's Weekly

Julie would hang up her apron as a columnist 2019, but it certainly wouldn’t be the end of her association with us.  

In 2020 after battling for years with acute depression and anxiety, Julie checked herself into hospital for psychiatric help. When she chose to share her story in the aftermath, it was The Weekly she turned to.

“I have a huge amount of trust with The Australian Women’s Weekly because I know they do their research; that accuracy and authenticity is important and that stories are going to be hold from a truthful perspective,” she says of why she chose this publication to talk to.

“It’s got credibility. I have a huge amount of trust with The Women’s Weekly because I know they do their research; that accuracy and authenticity is important and that stories are going to be hold from a truthful perspective,” she says of why she chose this publication to talk to.

Julie Goodwin at home with her dog

“Having a platform like The Weekly to speak about important things and hard things has been a blessing because I do think that shining a light on hard topics like mental health helps people to realise they are not alone. Conversations like that need to be normalised. I yearn for the day where nobody has to say thank you for being so open about this because we are all just open about it. There is not a human being who is not touched by someone in their circle who is struggling with a mental health issue. And if you think there is nobody in your circle, I would advise you to ask more questions.

Julie Goodwin and granddaughter Delilah

“It’s been part of my MasterChef journey and it was part of my Women’s Weekly journey to be given the privilege of a voice. If I can’t use that in some way to help people, then I don’t know what it was all for. “

Julie continues to share with readers of The Weekly. In April last year, she turned to us take her first photo shoot with her beautiful granddaughter Delilah.

“She is such a joy and I was so proud to be able to have her with me in the pages of The Weekly,” she says.  “It felt like a real closing of a circle I suppose. To go from having little kids to being a grandmother to one.”

Around the same time, she joined the Unhoused campaign – an initiative of The Weekly and its publisher Are Media, it’s a social change agenda petitioning for government funding for long-term and safe housing for women and children. It resonated with Julie whose single mum had at times struggled to put food on their own family table.

“The good thing is, when you take a blowtorch to your whole life and burn everything down, I get to now choose what I build back up,” she said of the importance of collaborating with The Weekly on this important topic.

“I’ve been raised with that old saying, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’. And that’s why I feel passionate about Unhoused. The reason I am not in that situation is not because I’ve worked harder, got a better job, none of those things. It’s sheer frigging luck that I didn’t wind up in a circumstance that put me out on the street.”

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