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MasterChef New Zealand


The inside word with Carlos - Week 11

Carlos Garcia made the Top 24 of MasterChef New Zealand. And while he didn't make it to the top 12, he's been giving us his insights into each challenge.
Here's his take on the degustation challenge.

So the final five faced a big task with the degustation menu - have you ever tried something like this?
Are you kidding?  That menu looked HARD!   Idea had never crossed my mind, but now that I have been it done I at least want to try one out!

The five seem quite confident they each have what it takes to win - what do you think has seen each of them get this far?
It is definitely their self-belief and drive.  All of the contestants are talented cooks, but the top 5 have shown something extra, something that sets them apart from the rest.  It's been interesting to watch actually.

What did you make of the judges who were brought into Bracu to judge tonight?
That group was certainly a power house of New Zealand's best chefs.  What a line-up.  And, of course, you can't forget Ray.  If it had been me there I think I would have frozen and then cried a little before getting my A into G and cooking!

How would you have coped with the pressure of service every 10 minutes?
Truthfully, I think it came down to having a plan making sure that you were well prepped - so because of this, maybe not so good!

What's the biggest meal like this you've had to cook?
I recently cooked a Mexican BBQ for 26 people, but that's normal for me.  Back in Venezuela just having the family around for a meal means there are 35 people turning up for dinner!

You've had to deal with the criticism - Brett says it dents him a little each time when he hears it - how hard is it to deal with?
There are two ways of dealing with it.  One, you can let it get you down and focus on the negative and two, you can take the criticism, reflect upon it, and use it to improve yourself.  I choose to mostly focus on the second option but sometimes, like Brett says, it's hard not to let it get to you.

Who do you think soared in this challenge?
I think Kelly really shone through this week.  She took to the challenge head-on, came up with a plan of attack and made two fantastic dishes.  She can be really proud of the results.

There were clear winners tonight - what did you think of those who won and those who lost - were you surprised?
I wasn't surprised really, because the two winners worked to a plan and kept a cool head throughout the challenge.  All of the contestants had a confidence, but Tracey and Kelly didn't rely purely on that, they set out to break down the tasks and map out their work. This thoughtfulness paid off for them both.

So, it's the second eviction for Nigel - what did you make of that? It must have been tough going through that a second time?
Maybe it was a case of being too confident?  Like Nigel said in his eviction interview , he thought he had the menu with the least processes, so maybe this led to him being a little too relaxed.

We've now got the top four finalists - for each one, what do you believe are their strengths and weaknesses?
Brett -
Brett's weakness is his inability to see the full picture.  Week after week there has been something he has left out, or forgotten to do, but somehow he keeps getting through.  I think this is because the food he creates is full of flavour and creative, these are definitely his strengths.

Steve - Steve knows how to manage his time in the kitchen and he is organized. He has been so good since the very beginning and I can easily see  that he has the potential to become a great chef, but when it comes down to the pressure in the kitchen and specially when some one else is in charged, Steve looses track. I don't blame him as it would happen to me too

Tracey - Oh Tracey Tracey, she is such a sweet heart, confident, very creative and knows what she is doing. To be honest, I don't see any weakness in her. I love her stuff!

Kelly - Kelly's technique is flamboyant and she loves the risks! I love that about her as she is always up with new ideas! Kelly rocks my world! But saying that, I think she gets too excited when it comes to the challenges and she can get out of track and that is when some mistakes could happen. 

As we near the end of the competition, which challenge do you wish you'd taken part in?
I would have really enjoyed this week's challenge.  It's something unique and would have really tested my abilities - mind you, in saying that, the judging panel would have scared the pants off of me!

Next week, it's about the cookbook recipes - what would be your entry into the culinary cookbook world - aside from your volcanic pork?
Oh man, I will be making something from the Caribbean; like a beautiful fish plate will be fabulous and gorgeous lol. A Divine Cuban Style Whole Fish with Black eye Pea Fritters and a Spicy Mango and Shrimp Salad.