Laura Cassai is MasterChef Australia’s 2014 runner-up, and at nineteen, was the youngest contestant to ever compete in the grand final. Admired by MasterChef judges, respected by fellow contestants and loved by the Australian public for her warmth and her hard-working nature, she considers herself lucky enough to have been born into an Italian family and attributes her adoration and passion for food to her heritage, giving light and life to her new cookbook, My Italian Kitchen. Laura’s fond childhood memories of living in Italy for two years and growing up with legs swinging, sitting on the kitchen bench, hands coated in a dusting of flour, stirring pots and making pasta with her Nonna’s, has fostered her love and respect for traditional Italian cooking. Other vivid memories of first encounters with food are recalled at the start of each chapter or recipe; the smell of chestnuts cooking over an open fire, the damp forest floor while foraging for mushrooms or cockling in the sand at Goolwa beach. Experiencing Melbourne’s culinary hotspots, followed by being surrounded by the fresh produce of South Australia’s bountiful Fleurieu Peninsula & Adelaide Hills, has encouraged Laura’s passion for cooking almost her whole life. Combine this with refining her cooking skills on MasterChef under the guidance of professionals and in the company of equally passionate, fellow contestants; Laura has developed an incredibly keen sense of what works and an insightfulness that many consider beyond her years. But at the age of 20, she has already impressed the likes of Adelaide’s Jock Zonfrillo, scoring a place in the kitchen at his acclaimed ‘Restaurant Orana’ as his pastry chef and released her debut cookbook ‘My Italian Kitchen’, hitting shelves and top seller lists both here is Australia and overseas. She is a passionate advocate & representative for San Remo Pasta and a proud Ambassador for the Starlight Foundation, a foundation which strives to put a smile on the faces of seriously ill children and their families. After 2 years as R & D chef at Andres Cucina and Polenta Bar, a stint as Pastry chef at Hentley Farm, she now finds herself back working with Andre Ursini at his new restaurant Orso.