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MasterChef New Zealand


Life after MasterChef

The latest eliminee has been revealed and it's friendly truck driver Al Markham, whose MasterChef dream has been torn asunder by a takeaway tragedy.

We caught up with Al to get his thoughts on having to go.


How has the whole MasterChef experience been?
Being on MasterChef was a rather surreal experience.  Having watched MasterChef since its inception in the UK my wife had always said I should apply to go on the show.  Well I never got around to doing it in the UK  and I should have applied for the first NZ series, but I didn't. Season two came and went and my wife really encouraged me to have a go at season three, so I did!  Filling in the original application was fun and we sent it off, then out of the blue came the offer of of an audition at Petone five minutes down the road from home.

After a few trial runs a dish was created and cooked a few times against the clock. That was a great help as time management in MasterChef is so important - there's no good dishing upwith 15 minutes to go you need it on the plate with 15 seconds to go! Being amongst the other guys on MasterChef was good, they are all quite a bit younger than me, however, they are all pretty smart cooks. Being in the house with all these wanna be chefs meant that there were all sorts of food ideas being bounced around. During those first few days in the house, I had to take a reality check to make sure I wasn't dreaming - yep I was there!

I spent a couple of days watching the 'opposition' and watching the egos ebb and flow. I enjoyed my time in the house and with the guys and gals.  I would like to have another go but that will never happen (or will it?)
How did it feel when the judges gave you that initial apron and then a chance to be part of the final 16?
When I received my apron from the judges it was with three yeses! No majority decision I got it with a knockout. I thought, look out every one I WANT a place in the last 16!  I was over the moon there's life in the old dog yet! I was walking on air I had cracked it.

How did you feel when you were told to leave the MasterChef kitchen?
When the time came for judging on the day of the pressure test I knew in my heart of hearts I was going home. I couldn't see that anyone was worse than me but I hoped there was one! A couple pf the guys only got two dishes up but they were pretty good dishes.  I wouldn't have minded being second last (again) cos I would still be in there fighting. So with some emotion and head held high I left the MC kitchen number 15 amatuer cook in NZ - that means there are over four million people below me!

I flew back home to Wellington and cooked my wife a gourmet dinner.  The three judges also know one bad day doesn't make you a bad cook.

What's the dish you created that you're most proud of?
My best dish by far was my audition dish. I called it 'Offally Good Pork' . Simon really liked it and didn't want to share it with Josh and Ray. It's a winner!
What have you learned most from the experience?
Season, season, season and then some more! My audition dish was well seasoned, other dishes I seasoned seemed okay but they wanted more. 
Who will you miss seeing most? And why?
I will miss seeing Charlene, she is such a great person.  In the house she was reading bedtime stories to her children over the phone while others were studying recipe books. She alomost became the 'mother' of the house ironing aprons for everyone and getting the oversleepers out of bed. I was first up on the guys side of the house every day but that's me, I'm a morning person. Most days though Charlene would be up and about early as well. Charlene also makes the shortest crumbliest pastry you have ever tasted second to none! I will also miss Dave as well like me he loves his coffee and we both love cheese. I took some of my homemade damson paste which we shared over a nice selection of cheeses.
What's your biggest regret about not getting further in the competition?
My biggest regret about not getting further is that I let the side down for the more 'mature' cooks! I would also have liked to cook a dessert or two as I think I do them pretty well.
When you were evicted, what would you have changed about the challenge which saw you forced to leave?
What would I change? I won't stuff it up! I'd make a burger not a steak sandwich. We have gourmet burgers at home. I won't overcook an oversize pizza, I'll deep fry the chips not oven cook them! Not a good day at the office.  I my defence a headlong fall leaving the pantry was not good start to the day but life goes on.
Fill in the gap: the kitchen utensil I look like the most is ...
There are so many but I wouldn't be without my good old potato peeler! Just a straight forward peeler no swivel head or one at right angles to the handle. I've had the current one 20 years and I have a spare when that gives out.
What's next for you? 
I'm still going to write a book and will try and get some gigs doing dinner parties for those that can't due to lack of time or inclination. I feel I can provide the whole experience in their home. Lots of house these days have open plan kitchen dining areas where food prep and cooking can be part of an entertainment package. I could even provide the service at my house where the host and guests turn up and I cook for them.  I have cooked all my life and will continue to do so 'till I pop my clogs'.

Get Al's Offally Good Pork recipe here