JULIE Goodwin is living her dream. Sitting on her back deck with a cup of tea with her dog by her side, watching her chooks scratch in the yard, Goodwin sighs and says, "This is true contentment. I am quite literally living my dream".
After a busy morning of interviews, wardrobe fittings and a TV spot, Goodwin can't wait to spend the rest of the day in the kitchen cooking and dreaming up new recipes for her regular magazine and newspaper columns, next book and just simply to put smiles on her family's faces.
"I'm always trying new things," she said. "Last night, I cooked a meatloaf wrapped in bacon with a glaze. The boys loved it."
Life today for Goodwin is very different after taking out the crown on the first season of MasterChef four years ago, and she couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities that have come her way.
Top of her list is becoming an author with two cookbooks, Our Family Table and The Heart Of The Home.
"It was my lifelong dream," she said. "I'm still pinching myself."
The published chef is working on her third book that she hopes to release in time for Mother's Day next year.
"It's going to be all about gatherings, parties and get-togethers," Goodwin said.
"This is what drives my cooking."
Goodwin remembers her parents constantly throwing parties, having people over and going out for family picnics while she was growing up. That fostered her desire and passion for food and cooking.
"I grew up loving that sense of cooking: bringing people together," she said.
"I love that food is the heart of every wonderful occasion.
"It's the first thing you plan for a wedding or a baptism or a party.
"Or you simply get together with friends over a meal or a cheese platter."
For Goodwin, food is synonymous with love.
"It enables me to show much I love those close to me in a real tangible way," she said.
After achieving her dream of becoming an author and recognised and respected cook, Goodwin hopes to open her own restaurant. But for now, that is a dream.
"I'm flat out at the moment and I want to do it in a way that does it justice," she said.
"I'm also raising teenage boys who keep me busy and I want to spend time with them while they are still at home."
With the fourth season of MasterChef having kicked off this week, Goodwin admits she will be glued to the screen as she has been for the two previous seasons.
"I get really stressed for them (the contestants) and I feel so sorry for them when things go wrong," she said with a laugh.
"There have been a few tears, which makes me feel so grateful to be safe in my lounge room."
As for advice for this season of budding chefs, Goodwin says to cook from the heart.
Catch Julie Goodwin at the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival. She will host lunch with Australia's master chefs along with Adam Liaw and Kate Bracks next Friday at noon and MasterChefs' Dinner Party next Saturday at 10am. For details and to book tickets, visit noosafoodandwine.com.au.