The first thing I notice on last nights episode is that the top 16 contestant intros are up and running. And there are my curls, almost ringlets – that isn’t natural but the smile is so hey its a look and one we’ll be seeing briefly but for a few weeks!
Then of course it is the Master Chef mansion. Oh wow – we get to live here. This is seriously huge, and modern, and super cool. Not sure about all the beds piled in together – a little like a boarding school I managed to avoid – and at my age?! Oh well – that’s what happens when you make the top 16 in Masterchef – your whole world turns upside down!
Love the kitchen – and that to me is the defining moment. I mean the horse with the lampshade is kind of odd – but the kitchen is dreamy – how I have wanted a kitchen like that for years. So I am insanely happy. The pool is another highlight, though was vaguely shocked by the temperature – a true wake up call in that pool! The mutual enthusiasm was infectious as we moved into the house and I got the sense that everyone was stunned, excited and a little nervous. We really didn’t know each other and here we were about to live together – to eat, cook, swim and perhaps even do yoga on the lawn overlooking the sea!
I so wanted to show my boys the house. I felt so happy to be there and so sad not to be able to share the experience with the children who are so excited about me being in MasterChef and who have already cooked for the cameras and shown their adventurous spirit and enthusiasm.
Our trip to Rotorua was unexpected and beyond exciting. What a way to start – with a trip!! I loved the welcome onto Mocoia Island. I love ceremony and culture and you couldn’t have got more authentic an introduction than the one given to us. I could see that Elliot felt so honoured to be our leader and how important the whole process was. Already the adventure of Masterchef had begun.
Assembling in front of the chefs, I spotted the food laid out in a natural pantry setting. The produce looked amazing – lush, fresh and abundant. Awesome – a good start! And when our team was announced I was super thrilled. David and I had been winners the week before so to be together on this was a bonus. Paula had done really well in the audition and in her pork challenge as had Serena – and Serena also had experience with Hangi’s – yup we were sorted – great team!
And work well we did. We agreed with our process, and we agreed easily as to who would take responsibility for what. David and Serena worked tirelessly on the fire and Paula and I set to work on the food preparation. It was a great moment to chat and get to know each other as we worked non stop in getting food ready to go into the ground. I butterflied a chicken and packed it with lemon and butter under the skin – this would keep it moist and flavour filled whilst cooking underground. And Paula’s mixture for the steamed pudding was innovative and tasted divine!
Laying the Hangi was an insane moment. I really loved to be part of such an intrinsically Kiwi tradition. It was a relief to hear that we werent the last team to get our food in. The energy of our team was fabulous and we continued to work hard on accompaniments before the job of raising the Hangi took place. We were so worried pulling the food out. We were up against time pressure and were terrified of getting dirt on the produce. We could however smell the delicious aromas and we knew it was cooked!
When Simon called to step away from the bench I felt relieved, though wished we had had more time to really refine our plating. What we had was a colourful filled flavour driven platter of food and though we were nervous when we presented to the judges, we were also pretty happy with what we had achieved. It was clear we had worked as a team and no one took responsibility away from anyone else – we truly believed we didn’t have a weak link. David took up Josh’s suggestion that we all go home if we were the bottom team. At that point though I figured we would be fine – surely we weren’t the bottom!
Back in the Masterchef kitchen for the elimination I felt sick when we were positioned at the back of the yellow and green teams. Oh boy – I think we are one of the bottom two teams!! Gut feelings are usually correct and these ones were – watching the other teams go to safety was a misery when you were still standing.
When it was our turn for feedback I felt ill. I could feel Serena tense beside me and I felt so empathetic for her – this meant so much for all of us. We stuck together because that is what teams do – but boy it was hard – harder for David though who felt responsible for having created the ‘team’ fall!! When we heard that Paula’s pudding had saved us, we responded with quiet relief. No whooping for joy – just an ability to breath again!
Finally seated and safe, it was tragic to watch the red team under sufferance. This was my first elimination and it wasn’t pretty. Actually it was gut wrenching! I was so surprised to see Suzanne go home. She had been one of last week’s winners. And now out the door. That is crazy! Yes, the roller coaster has truly begun and on the ride my stomach churns along with it…