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MasterChef New Zealand


Young guns challenge shoots down MasterChef contestant

MasterChef New Zealand on TV ONE and TVNZ Ondemand


In the latest MasterChef New Zealand challenge, it was Kamo travel consultant Zee Tana's turn to leave the kitchen. Zee came undone while cooking for the three guest chefs, Hayden McMillan, Nick Honeyman and Makoto Tokuyama.
Here Zee shares his thoughts on getting so close to the final stages of the competition.

1) How have you found the whole MasterChef experience? 
The whole MasterChef experience has been life changing and career moulding and I feel the experience has reassured me that I have a place in the food industry.

2) How did it feel when the judges gave you that initial apron and then a chance to be part of the final 16?
I remember feeling overwhelmed with mixed emotions. As well as feeling positive at the prospect of an opportunity to be New Zealand's MasterChef, I was concerned that I would be away from my mum for a period of time. The chance to be a part of the top 16 in the country proved to me that I was headed in the right direction and that I had the ability to show the judges and New Zealand my 'home kitchen talent' could make it in a 'real kitchen'.

3) How did you feel when you were told to leave the MasterChef kitchen?
I knew that I had stuffed up pretty badly and I came to terms with my failed risk quite quickly. But in saying that, I knew that it was my time to go and I was ready to get home to my family and could only think of a positive outlook from the overall experience. 

4) How have your friends and family reacted?
My family and friends are proud of the fact that I attempted to take on the challenge of MasterChef New Zealand and made the most out of the experience without changing who I am and what I believe in. They're proud of me for just being goofy ol' me.

5) What's the dish you created that you're most proud of? 
It would have to be my lamb on the BBQ . Not only have I never attempted to cooked lamb on a BBQ with the use of such prime produce from the beautiful Hawkes Bay before, but I felt that I really had my head screwed on that day. That's despite the fact I was running around like a headless chook at the markets in the morning! It was a top day, top setting and a 100% top worthy win.

6) What have you learned most from the experience?
I have learned that I can do absolutely anything I set my head and heart to and that this country has some magnificently talented people. Not only could the top 16 cook up a storm, but there were some hidden gems of talent there too, who I believe will be friends for life.

7) Who are you going to miss the most? 
It would have to be Chelsea 'Winny' Winter, with her contagious personality, her ability to take any situation and make it positive or funny. Plus the fact that she probably has 'the best' hot'n'spicy chicken wings with blue cheese dipping sauce that I have ever eaten!

8) What would be your biggest regret?
Two things -  not winning the competition (which I am sure is everyone's top priority and answer)  and not being able to spend more quality time with my 'mak'n'cheese' (MasterChef ) family, spending all our time with good food and drink, music, laughter and challenging each other in and out of the competition.

9) What would you have changed about the challenge which led to your eviction?
There are a few things I would have done differently. I would have focussed more on thinking through my menu and maybe taking risks in a more controlled manner as opposed to my frantic risk taking. I don't regret my actions as I know that I did my best and worked as hard as I possibly could. Everything happens for a reason and absolutely everything is connected. 

10) Fill in the gap: the kitchen utensil I look like the most is... 
An egg cup with the egg! You can also use me as a shot glass, a coin holder, a circle cutter, a fancy hat and many other versatile things.

11) What's next for you?
I am currently living in Mackay, North Queensland with my handsome, hardworking man and our two beautiful 18-month-old Staffies named Koby and Jack. I am absolutely living and loving life, enjoying the beautiful weather, the great people and the mass of opportunities in the area. In terms of food, I am looking at opening my own market stall at the artisan markets preparing, cooking and selling my own gourmet food at affordable prices.

I have prepared my stall name 'Big Blue SkyZ', invested in my temporary sale of food permit and have my menu of five select gourmet dishes that will come with a meat, slaw/ salad and  a pickle/ relish/ chutney that I'll sell alongside the meals as well. I'm a fiend for preserves.
I would like to eventually do a chef apprenticeship and really lock myself into the industry to get qualified, but will need to investigate into that option a bit more.

Take a look at Zee's MasterChef New Zealand audition dish.

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