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Natasha Shan: Canberra's new MasterChef star

Natasha Shan very nearly didn't audition for MasterChef.

Not that she didn't want to be on the reality cooking show - she'd been a fan ever since it started and had previously applied unsuccessfully to become a contestant.

But when she got the phone call asking her to go to Melbourne for an audition she started to worry.

The 28-year-old Canberran was working part-time as a social media manager for a non-profit animal group, PetRescue. 

"I said to Nick [Burnett, her partner], 'It's going to cost me $300 to go to Melbourne and it's probably going to be a waste of my time because I'm not going to get in and maybe we should just go out to a nice dinner at Aubergine and get it over and done with,'" she said.

"He said, 'You are being ridiculous, you have wanted to do this for so long, $300 is not that much money, I will give you the money if you want.'"

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So she took the gamble, flew down to Melbourne and wowed the judges with a platter of impressive chocolate desserts. They handed her a spot in the final 24 before they'd even finished tasting the food.

The tasting was the first time she'd met the three celebrity judges, Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston.

"I said to Gary, 'Are you real?'" she said.

What is real is that Canberra's food community has rallied behind Shan since MasterChef started its new season last week, using the hashtag #teamtash to voice support for her on Twitter whenever the show airs.

She's been making waves through the reality competition, taking a top-three spot on the weekend, and has cooked with confidence and flair.

Malaysian-born Shan came to Australia to study law and moved to Canberra two years ago when her partner was offered a job in the capital.

Her love of cooking came from her family and it shows in her food blog, A Kitchen Cat, which features recipes and photography.

Like all contestants on MasterChef, Shan has to adhere to a social media ban which means the blog hasn't been updated since that successful audition but she's still working on new dishes and recipes.

She's not the first Canberran to appear on the reality juggernaut that is MasterChef - university student Dan Tuddenham and Queanbeyan public servant Rishi Desai have previously flown the flag for the capital area. 

But Shan is determined to make it as far as she can and is one of the new guard of Canberra foodies revamping the capital's reputation.

Her dream is to open a cafe and she says she is definitely staying in the capital.

"I love it here," she said.

MasterChef airs on Channel 10 at 7.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.