Many happy childhood memories for Elena revolve around food. From cooking with her beloved nan as early as two, she was preparing entire meals by the age of eight. Blessed with artistic talent, cooking and art go hand-in-hand for Elena and she uses both to express her creativity.
Since winning MasterChef Season 8 in 2016, she has been part of several charity organizations such as FebFast and Cancer Council Australia and is continuing her mission to inspire and educate to find sustainable healthy and flavour-rich ways of incorporating food into their lives. Elena would love to own a farm café, partnering with young people and the wider community. She also continues to do live cooking demos and promoting her healthy gluten-free lifestyle on her website elenajoduggan.com
Before her Dubai residency, she had participated alongside previous MasterChef Champions at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) in Amsterdam.
For her three-day Dubai residency, Elena’s all-inclusive approach to life was reflected in a five-course Flexi-menu where every course is adaptable to diners’ gluten-free or vegetarian requests and was priced only AED329 per person inclusive of a welcome drink.
She kicked off her menu with an amuse-bouche of Lavender Goats’ Cheese and Beetroot Relish with Aussie Dukkha, the five-course dinner featured a treasure trove of traditional Australian flavours and ingredients.
A choice of starters reflected Duggan’s advocacy of using natural fruits instead of refined sugar in her cuisine. Guests could also opt for Octopus and Mandarins (black olive crumb, fresh oregano, mandarin gel) or Textures of Strawberry (pickled, dehydrated and freeze-dried strawberries, strawberry gel, almonds, watercress, Yarra Valley Australian feta).
For mains, guests chose from Roasted pumpkin and burrata (zesty pumpkin seeds, orange confit, sage pesto) or Duck and grapes (duck magret, Muscat grapes, verjuice, sunchoke hummus). The latter is the ‘older sibling’ of the masterful quail and grapes dish which helped Elena progress into the MasterChef Australia 2017 final.
Following mains, three of Elena’s favourite summer flavours in watermelon, pineapple and ginger – evoking memories of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland – form an amuse guile to cleanse the palate.
Finally, Duggan had regaled diners with her famous Fig, Chocolate, Wattleseed and Macadamia dessert, which collects much-loved indigenous ingredients from near her hometown in Noose Shire.
During her limited-seat masterclass, Elena demonstrated to cooking enthusiasts how to make one of her signature dishes, Duck and Grapes, the ‘older sister’ dish that helped Elena progress into the MasterChef Australia 2017 final.