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Canberra’s sweetest contender

Beatrice Smith

Since late August, me and my housemates, like many other Canberrans, have been glued to our television each week, trying not to drool. 

Nope, I’m not talking about The Bachelor, I’m talking the gooiest, most colourful, sweetest show on TV – Zumbo’s Just Desserts.

If you’ve been watching at home like me, you’ve probably learned a lot. You now know that creme brûlée and pikelets can go together, but red velvet and brownies do not. You’ve also learned some fancy new words like entrement, croquembouche, and craquelin, but the one thing you may not know is one of the contestants sharpening her whisk for next week’s finale is, in fact, Canberran.

Ali King might be a southside insurance broker by day, but by night (and on weekends…and whenever she finds time) she’s a dessert queen, first coming to the attention of Canberran tastebuds with the amazing ‘injectable’ choux combinations she whipped up with Frugii’s John Marshall.

“When you go on television you never think that you’ll get to the final,” says Ali. “You hope you do, but it seems so far away when you initially get there. It’s been an amazing, fantastic journey. ”

Ali has been painted by some as ‘the overly anxious contestant’, however, for many, her emotion has made her more relatable. Luckily, Ali says that she feels the show has fairly represented her personality.

“Watching myself on the show – it’s me, it’s warts and all. It’s me when I’m anxious, it’s me when I’m happy, it’s me when I’m bawling my eyes out, it’s just how I am. It’s been confronting sometimes but that’s just the reality of me, which I hope people like.”

Aside from some mid-challenge nerves, Ali has been one of the most consistent contestants so far. We’ve watched Ali whisk, pipe and chill her way through perfect spheres and a magic toadstool but Ali says that the most difficult dessert to create was the final dessert, which, while teased on the preview this week, will be revealed next Tuesday.

“I think the finale desserts [were most difficult] because there were so many components to them. They were challenging and because I’m prone to getting anxious…it was pretty overwhelming.”

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As for her favourite dessert she created on the show, Ali finds it hard to pick just one.

“I really liked recreating Zumbo’s Eskimo Igloo. That was awesome.”

I chime in to ask Ali whether that was the dessert where the eponymous Zumbo stated that her ice cream was better than his and she laughs. “Yep, that’s the one. That was an amazing feeling for Zumbo to say that. I also really enjoyed making my gravity defying dessert…I have lots of them!”

Ali also adds that having Zumbo describe her yellow fruit dessert (Zumbo’s ‘Ice’ Dessert) as “the best dessert of the competition” was also a highlight – as one might expect.

The final of Zumbo’s Just Desserts airs next Tuesday on Channel 7, but whether Ali is crowned Just Desserts Champion 2016 or not, we’re sure her future in the Canberra dessert scene is very bright.

“I’ll definitely be staying in Canberra,” says Ali. “I’m currently rebranding my small side business so I can move towards dessert catering for events.”

“I want to create really cool things – like I created on the show. I love creating new desserts to cater to specific themes and working with the client to create [the perfect dessert] for their events.”

If you’re interested in ordering from Ali in the meantime, you can contact her via her Instagram.

Ali’s favourite hometown sweet treat locations

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eightysix’s Popcorn Sundae. Image by Rebecca Doyle Photography.

  1. Flute Patisserie in Fyshwick for their classic and French-inspired dessert creations: “I love Flute”
  2. Space Kitchen, Woden: “For the wow factor. You can just go into Space and be wowed by the colours.”
  3. EightySix, Braddon for turning food conventions on their head: “I love the desserts at eightysix. I think they’re so delicious.”
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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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