Celebrated Melbourne caterer Peter Rowland and MasterChef 2018 ‘dessert queen’ Jess Liemantara aka ‘Jess Lemon’ have joined forces to create a picture-perfect range of canape and individual desserts for Melbourne’s ‘sweet’ lovers.
As the youngest contestant and a top four contender on the MasterChef Australia series this year, Jess Lemon has developed a cult following for her mastery of all things sweet, particularly desserts and pastries.
Born in Perth as Jess Liemantara, this young chef on the rise was just one when she moved to Melbourne with her older brother and restaurateur parents who specialized in Thai, Malay and Indonesian cuisine. At fifteen, Jess honed her skills as a barista and waitress in her parent’s restaurant for four years, before moving on to Nobu as a food and beverage attendant. These early experiences combined with a love of food technology at high school meant a career in hospitality was destined, however it was the kitchen and baking that really ignited her passion.
Jess began baking aged thirteen, trying her hand at a variety of baked goods from tarts and brownies to cookies and macarons – although she admits to taking two years to master the perfect macaron. Citing Cedric Grolet, Anna Polyviou and former MasterChef Australia contestant Reynold Poernomo as her sweet culinary inspirations, Jess also openly acknowledges the influence Gordon Ramsay has had on her career, marvelling at his strength, confidence and knowledge.
“I absolutely love pastry work, the glistening shiny cakes in a glass cake cabinet, freshly baked muffins or croissants, beautiful decorative cakes, and the never ending coloured macarons,” Jess says.
Peter Rowland and Jess Lemon have collaborated to produce four superb delicate desserts which will be available exclusively to order online from Packed by Peter Rowland, the company’s new online platform. The new range, aptly called “Jess Lemon by Peter Rowland” showcases a combination offering of Jess Lemon’s signature creations including:
- Chocolate coffee opera cake: Almond Jaconde sponge soaked in coffee syrup layered with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream.
- Passion yuzu meringue tart: Sable tart shell filled with a tangy passionfruit and yuzu curd, topped with a marshmallow swiss meringue, lightly torched.
- White chocolate and raspberry rose tart: Sable tart shell filled with a smooth fragrant raspberry rose curd, white chocolate mousse and raspberry jelly.
- Orange infused chocolate mousse: Orange infused dark chocolate mousse, chocolate sable base and popping candy.
Jess please tell me a little about where your love of cooking came from? At what age did you begin to start cooking?
“I started baking in between the ages of 9-13. My love for cooking came from a variety of purposes; the first is spending time with my grandma who used to make breads and biscuits quite a lot when she was young”
“Every time she comes to visit us down here in Melbourne we’d bake ginger bread cookies and deep fried sandwiches which are an Indonesian specialty”
“The other purpose is receiving my very first cookbook that my parents bought me on Christmas which was all about cookie decorating. I was so fascinated by the decorations I began starting my collection of cookie cutters before exploring other types of desserts”
“Last but not least is my mum’s Aunty who took care of us when my parents were away at work. We’d make desserts out of the box cake mixes and I loved the way dough or batters were made. I started making my own dough and YouTube was definitely my best friend”
What made you enter MasterChef Australia?
“I was around 9 or 11 at the time, watching MasterChef season 2 and the finals pressure test of Peter Gilmore’s Snow egg and I couldn’t believe such a dessert could exist”
“For years, all I could picture was the trauma and this fearful show called MasterChef and always wondered what it’d be like to be on the show but would never dare to be on it”
“A few years later, I woke up one morning in the MasterChef house and it struck me like lightening. I love cooking and baking but never thought I’d get on the show. Seeing how dreams do come true for MasterChef contestants, I too want to make my dream a reality”
What skills have you gained from MasterChef Australia that you may not have gained anywhere else?
“I’ve developed so many new skills such as filleting fish, cooking proteins, breaking down chicken and the knowledge of cooking simple foods with elegance”
“Not only did I learn cooking skills, but I learnt to adapt and think on my feet with the stress of running out of time. It was such an amazing experience and I learnt so much within my time on the show. To be surrounded by people who love cooking as much as I do, was like finding your long life partners”
How did the collaboration with Peter Rowland come about?
“My collaboration with Peter Rowland came about through a friend who was mutual friends with a part owner of the company”
“Through word of mouth, I came in for my very first meeting with the board of executives. I was instantly attached and had this feeling that this truly can be a great turning point”
“After a couple more meetings it took us a good 2 1/2 months to get things going and to make it to where we are today. They are such an amazing bunch to work with, they are open to suggestions and they have made sure both parties are comfortable with the overall outcome”
“The launch was beautiful and I still pinch myself as to how beautifully set up it was. A lemon is truly my favourite fruit to cook with”
Why is Peter Rowland so iconic to Melbourne for you and why have you decided to collaborate with this catering company?
“Peter Rowland is famous for their chicken sandwiches and they truly are amazing, they are so creamy and soft and just what you want at a picnic or a function”
“I chose to collaborate with this particular catering company because they have been around for over 50 years with a great reputation throughout Melbourne. Peter Rowland is such a huge company, it is composed of many hard working chefs who share the same values as I do, someone who loves working hard to achieve the great end results, and to meet each individual’s needs”
“It’s a huge company with a great community and most importantly they want what’s best for both parties. If we grow together we can make it a success together”
You have selected four superb desserts which are exclusive to Packed by Peter Rowland, how were these signature dishes selected to be part of the “Jess Lemon by Peter Rowland” range?
“The 4 desserts I’ve created exclusively for the Packed by Peter Rowland called Jess Lemon by Peter Rowland range are so very dear to me and they each take you on my MasterChef journey”
“The first dessert which is the Passionfruit and Yuzu Tart is a recreation of both my audition dish lemon berry tart consisting of 7 elements and my lime meringue tart with Brazil nut praline I made in my immunity cook not only were the judges happy with the dessert but it was a dessert so close to my heart. Mum loves citrus tarts and to make a dish that mum loves and the judges too, is just a tick on my bucket list”
“The second dessert is the dish that granted me my top 24 apron. The surreal moment of receiving that apron is still such a great memory. It is an intense chocolate orange mousse with chocolate sable and popping candy. This intense decadent mousse will lose you in its richness”
“The third dessert is the White Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Rose Curd, a dish that replicates my first elimination cook. I made a white chocolate mousse, chocolate soil and blackberry gel. I’ve recreated this dessert because having learnt so much about flavour profile, this tart is a definite favourite of the public, from its smooth fluffy white chocolate mousse to the soft raspberry rose gel and creamy raspberry rose curd, and it is just so delicate and fills your mouth with a tingling sensation”
“The fourth dessert is the Chocolate and Coffee Opera Cake. This dessert was the cake I’ve always adored watching on YouTube as well as in the patisseries shop window”
“I never thought I’d be able to make one myself but to make it for the public is even bigger than what I had imagined. On the show, I also made a PB & J opera cake which consists of peanut butter and jelly and still today, I was happy I made it”
“These cakes are in order of my journey throughout the show. Although they aren’t exactly what I made on the show but they share similarities and stories”
What’s next for you Jess?
“Hmmm….what’s next…..I’m currently working on a cookbook, which is on its first draft, hoping to finalise it by the end of this year if not early next year. Fingers crossed this dream also comes true”
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“I’m currently working at The Press Club as a pastry chef gaining all the knowledge and work that I can get to grow into a mature chef”
“One day when the time is right, I would love to open up my own brunch café”
Jess Lemon by Peter Rowland’s exclusive dessert range can be ordered shop.peterrowland.com.au