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MasterChef New Zealand


Fiona on life after MasterChef New Zealand

How's life been since being part of MasterChef NZ's Top 12?
In a word - incredible.  The MasterChef experience has introduced me to some talented people keen to share their knowledge; I've cooked in some great restaurants around the country and am now turning the food dream into reality.

What was your biggest learning curve?
Hah!  Learning not to freak out when I found people staring at me!  It took me a couple of days to get used to it.  I love it when people stop me for a chat and of course cooking is my favourite subject so there's a lot to discuss.

Which dish you created were you most proud of?
I'm very proud of my audition dish - Hapuku with Black Pudding on Sherry Potatoes with Saffron Aioli, Watercress and Nettle Pesto.  Thanks to Simon Gault I had the chance to serve this dish at his restaurants in Auckland, Taupo and Wellington.  We sold out in each location and the feedback was overwhelming.  Thanks to everyone who ordered the dish and the restaurant staff.

What have you learned most from the experience?
I left the MasterChef kitchen with a clear focus on the path ahead - no more excuses, food is my future, cooking is what I should be doing.

You all shared a house - who did you get on best with and why?
Without wanting to sound like a "TV" answer, we all got on really well.  Despite the stress of the competition and being thrown into a house with strangers, the time in the house was great.  Laughed and laughed, and laughed some more.

Conversely, who didn't you feel you spent enough time with?
I didn't get to spend that much time with Michael - possibly because I booted him out of the MC house kitchen at one stage!  He has an amazing food knowledge and it's fantastic he's now doing his apprenticeship.

What do you make of this year's winner?
Nadia's a very talented cook.  I love the way she combines flavours and her food is fresh and modern.  The MasterChef title is an incredible platform to launch a new career and the opportunity is there for the taking.

Which MasterClass do you wish you'd been part of - and why?
I wished I'd been there for every MasterClass - dammit.  Such a great opportunity to learn from the best.

What's your biggest regret about not getting further in the competition than you did?
I was having the time of my life and thriving under the pressure of the competition.  I was learning, meeting amazing people and being challenged everyday and I wanted that journey to continue.

When you were evicted, what would you have changed about the challenge which saw you forced to leave?
For the children's birthday party challenge I should have balanced my desire to contribute to the team with my drive to win.  I was so focused on being a great team member I lost sight of the competition. 

Which challenge would you have liked to have taken part in and why?
Each and every one of them!  I've enjoyed watching the show but I wish I could have been there to experience every challenge - it's what I signed up for.

Will you continue to pursue your cooking dreams now that the show is over?
Heck yes.  From the day I arrived home after my elimination I've been working on the cooking dream&

What's next for you?
The launch of that dream - Hapuku Kitchen. 
It's a commitment to reconnecting the kitchen with the land and sea.  My aim is to create a place where people can experience the best New Zealand produce and rediscover the simple pleasures of growing, gathering, catching, cooking and sharing quality food with others.

What advice would you give to future contestants, should there be another series?
Be prepared to work hard - really hard.  Immerse yourself in world of food - read books, go to restaurants, try new ingredients, talk to artisan growers and producers, understand the seasons and what's available, practice techniques and check, check, check your seasoning.

Fill in the gap: the kitchen utensil I look like the most is...
Well... I'd like to say a tall, slim Microplane, but I'm more like a pepper grinder..

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