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MasterChef New Zealand


Steve's blog - episode thirteen

MasterChef New Zealand on TVNZ Ondemand

Get the winning recipes from this week's episode here.



Well, I'll have to eat my words! Jax turned out to be the one that didn't cope under the pressure huh! What a final!

It brought a tear to my eye watching Nadia and Jax reading messages from their loved ones. They've been cooped up in the house and filming for weeks and weeks with no break, so the emotions just get so pent up, and when you're missing your family and friends so much, I can well imagine how a letter would make you feel so homesick. I know for me, right at the end, it was getting harder and harder, and you're missing your 'real' life so much, and even though the other housemates are a great bunch, they aren't your family.

So the massive, massive pressure going into the final four challenges of MasterChef NZ 2011 looked huge didn't it? I recall sitting in the 'box seats' last year, watching Kelly & Brett battle it out - it's the best view in the house, and to be able to sit back and watch how the remaining two contestants actually cook is so interesting - to see it how the TV audience will see it is amazing, from 'behind the scenes' so to speak. So the 10 contestants got a real treat!

4 challenges, with over $100,000 on the line - not much pressure, right!!?? Nadia really got out of the gates quickly with her 18/20 in the taste test - that's an amazing score! Specially when you're nervous - you tend to get a dry mouth, and your tastebuds don't seem to react as well, so to get 18 was a mammoth effort!

And then to the Invention test, which was right up Nadia's alley. Jax did a fantastic job with the kidneys, even though she had the dreaded 'mind blank' there for a second. I know the feeling... You have so much to do and so little time, that you get brain-overload and you literally don't know what to do next! It's a horrible feeling to have, particularly when it's the final, I imagine. Good old Simon - he came to the party and snapped Jax out of it, thank goodness! He's great at bolstering confidence, but equally as good at unsettling them with offhand comments designed to unnerve and make them second-guess themselves.

And Nadia pulls out the best dish ever tasted on MasterChef NZ! Wow, what an accolade! I SO want to try making that porkbelly now, yum! I thought it was interesting though that she went for one of the fattiest cuts on the pig, then cooked it in oil (confit) - since she has been pushing the healthy, dietician side for most of the comp. But hey, it was a stunning dish that catapulted her ahead of Jax again. At this stage I was thinking Nadia would win - Jax just didn't seem to be in the moment.

So to the third challenge - the Mystery Box of Beef Wellington. I was thinking: surely Jax, being from London, has an advantage in this challenge? And so she proved, giving a pretty-much perfect rendition of Josh's dish, gaining points and putting her 6 points behind Nadia going into the final challenge. At this stage it's a big ask, but definitely do-able, and she needs an absolute stunner in the final challenge.

And so to the final challenge - the Macaron Flower Frenzy. Echoes of the dreaded Croquembouche here! (shudder!). Nadia starts crying, just looking at the thing! It was the one thing she didn't want, but you'd have to be pretty confident going into the last challenge 6 points up. She'd have to have a disaster to lose it now. They finish after 3 and a half long hours - "Euphoric and exhausted" as Jax put it, and that really sums up the MasterChef experience in my eyes. You are totally spent after each challenge, but at the same time you are on such an amazing high. And at the end of this challenge, I'm putting Nadia ahead - her tower looks better built, neater lines and better colours.

And then the disaster happens!! Oh my God!! So that really seals Jax's fate, and she knows it. Poor Jax! I feel for her so much, what a horrible thing to happen! And Nadia must have some mixed emotions as well - on one hand she pretty much knows she's nailed it, yet she's feeling sad for her mate Jax. And sure enough, Nadia wins!

WOW, what a comp! I think Nadia really deserved it - she nailed each and every challenge, and I thought Josh said it well. He said he had learnt two things about her:
1:  She cries a lot.
2:  She's as tough as iron.
I'd have to agree with that. She had the mental determination to succeed, and more power to her, she did it, and did it well! Congratulations Nadia, NZ's newest MasterChef champion!

So that's it from me guys - hope you enjoyed my blogs, and we all look forward to the next season of MasterChef. We'll all be suffering from MasterChef-withdrawal now! Keep cooking, keep experimenting, and keep learning - we want to see you on the next show!

See ya!

Steve Juergens