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Category Archives: New Zealand

blood on the dance floor

With Masterchef Australia (season 6) galloping towards its conclusion, the two hour New Zealand (season 4) final was screened last week on Watch. NZ may not have the vastness nor the glamour of its AUS counterpart but it gets the job done.

They live in a large, modern house as, one by one, they are eliminated and by the season finale we are left with two cooks: Aaron Brunet and Paula Saengthian-Ngam.  Aaron seemed to be a winner from day one.  His food was sophisticated and tasty throughout, pretty much.  On the rare occasion he made a mistake it was noticed and commented on by his competitors.  He was even nicknamed the ‘Aaronator’. Ultimately though, he made it to the final without too much drama.

Aaron

Aaron

Paula’s route wasn’t as easy but she got there by making some tip top classic dishes and using her knowledge of Thai flavours to her advantage.  Clearly the Masterchef experience filled her with confidence and a new direction in life.  One that didn’t include her husband, it seems.  “The show gave me the strength to end it. It made me realise that I didn’t really miss him. He didn’t understand why I wanted to do MasterChef.”  Okaaaay!

In standard overseas practice, the final was split into four challenges with marks out of 20 given by the judges.

First up is the taste test.  A giant vat of Ray’s bolognese was brought out and our cooks had to guess all 20 ingredients (beef mince, pork mince, cream and white wine among them, YUM).  Aaron leads 14 – 12.

Tony Astle, who’s been cooking for 40 years at Antoine’s, pops up to inspire them for the entree challenge.  Paula nails it with a duck salad to take it 32 – 25.  This is particularly impressive as events were temporarily halted due to the ‘incident’.  Now, there are quite often little mishaps in the Masterchef kitchen, now matter where in the world you are.  Many cooks exclaim, “I’ve chopped the end of my finger off but I can’t give up now”.  Yeah, right.  If you’re gonna chop your finger off, do it properly.  Poor Paula uttered the fateful words, “I usually nick myself with the mandolin but I’ve been alright today.  So far!”  Cue blood dripping down her hand and a scary amount on the floor.  Thankfully all was good in the end.  She pulled off a great dish.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

aussie rules

I could use my recent accident as an excuse, but I won’t.  Lounging around, nursing a fractured metatarsal, I set to work, doing really important things like catching up with lots and lots and lots of Masterchef.

Masterchefs Australia and New Zealand aired on Watch only for its British counterpart to crash the BBC party a few weeks later. Back were the familiar Aussie faces of Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.  George is nearly half the man he used to be and looking very well on it too.  In the New Zealand kitchen we have Simon Gault, Josh Emmett and the fabulously named Ray McVinnie.  Josh has been in place since season two when Ross Burden bowed out due to ill health.

Josh, Simon & Ray

Josh, Simon & Ray

After a brief flirtation with Canada, it’s clear that my heart still lies in Australia.  Canada was good, don’t get me wrong, but the competitive element was ramped up pretty high with mystery box winners having the opportunity to remove a cook from an elimination round, catty comments and deathly stares.

One thing in Canada’s favour?

Bacon.

Lots of bacon.

And not a croquembouche in sight.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

the original masterchef

BDGTtT was shocked to hear the very sad news that Ross Burden died on 17th July.

ready steady cook

 

A self taught cook, Ross studied zoology in Auckland before embarking on a career in food.  After moving to the UK in the early ’90’s he took part in the original Masterchef (1993 series) hosted by the legendary Loyd Grossman.

Most people first became aware of Ross as a team captain in BBC’s Ready Steady Cook where a goody bag containing ingredients totaling no more than £5 was presented to the professional chef by a member of the public.  Presenter Fern Britton loved to flirt with Ross, with his twinkly eyes and Superman good looks.

Although he seemed to disappear from terrestrial television after stints on This Morning and Kitchen Invaders Ross kept busy making numerous food and travel shows.  He also presented wildlife programmes for National Geographic.

Returning to New Zealand, he returned to education and I was very pleased to see him as a judge for the first series of Masterchef NZ.

ross-burden

 

Always happy to tell it like it is, Burden wasn’t shy in giving his opinion on a certain Jamie Oliver.  “If you think he’s tasty then you’re either prepubescent or you’re in a Zimmer frame … That man is an utter prat.”

Thanks, Ross.  You will be missed.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in BBC, ITV, Masterchef New Zealand, New Zealand

 

mystery box

As an armchair critic of shows such as Masterchef (UK/Australia/New Zealand) I am often bemused at the contestants lack of knowledge with the culinary basics.

I am, at best, an average cook and I know I’m being harsh but once you get through the audition process and the screen tests you surely must practice, practice, practice. 

If you can’t make the perfect shortcrust pastry – KEEP TRYING!
If your first few attempts at pasta don’t make the grade – MAKE IT AGAIN AGAIN!
If your mayonnaise would fail to impress Monica – DO IT BETTER NEXT TIME!

Really!  I would make gnocci until they were beautiful, light pillows that melted in Greg’s massive gob.  I wouldn’t sleep unless my flatbread was fantastic nor my souffle superb.

Memorise the recipes.  Carsmile is the pastry king of Fanny Towers: “6oz flour, 3oz fat and about 6 big spoons of water” is the automatic response to my often asked question “how’d you make pastry again?”

If you know the basics inside out, you will go far.  As a little green fella once said: “Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained.”