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MasterChef New Zealand


Steve's blog - episode five


The Euro Restaurant Challenge!

Well, here we go again, throwing these guys in the deep end! And straight into the heat and intensity of one of New Zealand's top restaurants to boot. Simon must have a lot of faith to allow the contestants into his kitchen - his 'baby' as he calls it.

Their task - to cook 5 courses for 100 people. That's 500 dishes. That's a lot! That's a WHOLE LOT!! To put that into perspective, that takes about 4 or 5 hours to prep for.

And having had the amazing experience of cooking at Euro for a month, creating my 'Steve's Marquise' chocolate dessert (having won the 3-hour dessert challenge last year), I can unequivocally tell you that being in this kitchen when service is on is MANIC!

The Euro kitchen runs like a well-oiled machine, but as soon as you chuck a few inexperienced MasterChef contestants in the mix, all hell breaks loose -it literally becomes Hell's Kitchen!

Welcome to the world of professional cooking people. You literally have to work as fast as you can - meanwhile your hands are shaking, you have no idea where anything is, the Euro chefs are looking at you with disdain, and you pretty much forget everything you ever learned. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff.

Absolute urgency is required right from the get-go - and these guys won't realize until service starts just how important the prep is. Once service starts, if you have prepared everything, then it all flows nicely - if you have forgotten something, or some part of your meal isn't ready, then everything backs up very quickly, putting pressure not only on you, but on every other chef in the kitchen. Ah, I remember the pressure fondly! Haha! I know how you feel guys - it's such a buzz to finish a service - you feel absolutely exhausted yet energized and alive - it's unlike anything I've ever done. You have to experience it to see what it's like.

In fact, as I mentioned in my last blog, I was cooking at Euro along with my fellow Series One contestants just last week for the Christchurch Fundraiser Charity Dinner. We had a blast - we haven't all cooked together since the very first challenge as the Top 12 in Series One, so it was a bit of déjà vu all round.

The night was a great success, with over $150,000 raised I believe. We were cooking 4 courses and canapés for 190 guests, so that was a challenge for us a well! But a lot of fun, and a great cause!

Sam looked like he struggled a bit, kind of wandering around aimlessly there for a while. I believe he was lucky to get through to the next round, as was Anthony - he seemed to spend WAY to much time on his ice-cream - they, in my opinion, were the two that performed the least well in the kitchen. The pro kitchen is definitely not for everyone, that's for sure. Robere, the French maître d' is a hard-ass, grilling the contestants and piling on the pressure. But he really is a lovely guy underneath his tough professional exterior. I'm sure Simon told him to give the guys a tough time - to scare the living hell out of them! But all-in-all - what a great effort from everyone.

What they did is really not an easy thing to do - multiple courses for a restaurant full of people is a hard ask, even for a seasoned chef, so for them to pull that off is commendable. Nadia and Stu - Top 2, well done! Jax and Anthony, bottom 2, but everyone performed so well that no-one is going home. What a shocker! Man, we never had that luxury in Series 1! Makes me think something is up - are 2 going home next week?

What are they up to - alarm bells are ringing for me - the judges aren't normally that nice& we shall wait and see! And next episode sees the appearance of one of my favourite NZ chefs& see you there!
Steve Juergens