The inside word with Carlos, Top 24 finalist
Christchurch's Carlos Garcia certainly caused a splash
on MasterChef New Zealand, winning through to the final 24 with his
unique pork and cola dish.
Originally from Venezuela, he was named the "kookiest" of the contestants.
He will be giving tvnz.co.nz his insights into the hit TV ONE cooking competition as we count down to the first ever MasterChef New Zealand champion.
Why did you enter the competition?
Jo, my sister-in-law, suggested that I should enter, but I wasn't sure, as I didn't think I had a chance to even get on the show. But thanks to her, I did!
What was the reaction of your friends and family when you reached the final 24?
They were so excited for me. Everyone was buzzing and planning for some fantastic dinner parties at my house! Hahaha!
You were called the "kookiest" contestant in the opening episode, how did you feel about that?
It's not a bad thing and people remembered the kookie guy! I got lots of really nice feedback from people I didn't even know, so that made it alright.
Do you often cook with coke, like in your signature dish?
No way! I normally use diet coke...can't you tell!?!
How did you bond with most of your fellow contestants?
We got on really well. Everyone was super supportive in the competition and we all were genuinely wishing the best for each other.
Have you ever eaten Ragout before?
Yes, I have - but - I have eaten an amazing ragout prepared by La Nonna, my grandmother. Who was born and breed Palermo, a region in the south of Italy...now THAT was as authentic as it gets! Needless to say, I got confused between what I know is in a ragout and what ingredients Simon used.
The salmon challenge was also tricky for you.
Like I said, when I eat fish, I eat the whole thing - eyes, the crunchy tail - EVERYTHING! But, my first time filleting a fish was hard. The next time, it'll be better.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the mystery box?
Well, that's when I felt the pressure of the show really starting. This was what MasterChef was all about. But, in saying that, I was looking forward to the challenge because we were all in the same boat, and that challenge proved who were the top chefs.
You were pulled up on the hygiene issue with the duck - what were you thinking when Ray said he wouldn't eat your food?
I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole! Yes, there was pressure, especially seeing as I didn't do well in the other challenges, so I tried to really impress the judges by making two courses - but the lack of a clean plate was my undoing!
What were you thinking when you walked up to the judges?
Ay Dios mio! (Oh my god!), I was thinking that I was going home and only a miracle could save me now!
How nervous were the other contestants?
Everyone was nervous. We all wanted this as much as the next contestant, and then there was the unknown of what the house would be like. The room was full of tension.
What did you think of the judges?
Man, they really know there stuff! Ray is "Da Man!" I respect him and am in awe of his cooking knowledge! Simon is such a nice guy and I miss chatting with him about his travel and cooking experiences and Ross is - oh, well, do I have to answer this now? Joking! Ross, rocks! He tells it like it is and shows all of us just what's possible with this show.
Where they fair with you?
Yeah, they were. Remember, these guys are the experts. You couldn't get away with anything with them!
Don't forget if you missed Carlos in the opening episodes of MasterChef New Zealand, you can watch him here!