Living on a student budget may be uninspiring for most law students, but for Sharnee Rawson, from the Queensland University of Technology, it has given her the chance to follow her foremost passion - cooking - and has propelled her into the final 50 hopefuls for the second series of the hit television show MasterChef.
Rawson, 21, a self-confessed "food geek", temporarily turned her hand away from torts and essays to win over the MasterChef judges at a recent audition for the show, with a menu including steamed salmon wrapped in seaweed accompanied by citrus and ginger paste on a bed of soba noodles, followed with a red wine poached pear dessert with orange imbued mascarpone and pistachios.
She told the Courier-Mail newspaper that living on a modest student budget inspired her to try her skills in the kitchen in order to replicate the culinary creations featured in restaurants that were beyond the means of most students, more used to diets of two-minute noodles and baked beans.
"I loved looking at all this beautiful restaurant food and I wanted to ear it, but there was no way I could afford it on a Centrelink budget, so I was like: 'OK, I'm going to cook it.' I would look at dishes and Google the recipe and try it out," Rawson told the Courier-Mail this week.
Although having almost completed her law degree, Rawson said that she would willingly forego a career in the legal profession to pursue her passion, though acknowledged that skills she had honed throughout her studies proved exceptionally valuable outside the university environment.
"Sitting through four years of fairly intensive law exams will definitely help with the pressure (of MasterChef)," she told the Courier-Mail.
This will no doubt assist any further progression in the competitive show, where contestants pit their skills against each other in sometimes demanding environments to be submitted to the formidable epicurean analysis of the expert panel of judges, including chefs George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan and food critic Matt Preston.
This will not be the first foray for a member of the legal community to cross the threshold into the MasterChef kitchen, with Minter Ellison's Perth managing partner, John Poulsen, also cracking the Top 50 contestants in the show's first series.
Pouslen told Lawyers Weekly earlier this year that his passion for cooking had also been nurtured by necessity - with the death of his mother as a young child he took up the role of household chef at age 11 after realising that cooking was not exactly his father's forte.
"It was out of necessity. My dad started cooking and he boiled a meatball in oil and stuck it on a plate, and I thought 'I'm not going to eat this for the rest of my life', so I went out and bought two cookbooks - a Women's Weekly cookbook and The Golden Wattle Cookery Book - and it started from there."
The first series was a smash hit with Australian audiences, and made the finalists, including series winner Julie Goodwin, household names. The second series is expected to air in 2010.