Thursday, April 7, 2011

And for our first Public appearance........

So a few Saturday's ago was a little bit different to the ordinary welcome of the weekend.  Along with fellow MC contestants Cameron, Sam & Michael I was heading along to Sylvia Park to take part in a live cook off in front of an anticipating audience of adoring Masterchef Fans, Friends, Family and people who saw a spare seat and thought there might be free stuff.

Josh keeps us all amused.
It's fair to say that I didn't get that much sleep that Friday night!  Being on the show definitely gets you more used to high pressure situations but it was only cameras that we had to be frightened of when filming, rather than real live people!  No second chances in front of a public expecting big things from us hopeful chefs!

Unfortunately the weather didn't live up to the event with Auckland producing a terribly wet day with a blanket of grey, morbid cloud that reminded me of times in the UK.  That didn't stop the crowds though!

I arrived early and it was great to see my fellow MC contestants again.  We keep in touch but with us all being so busy it's nice to have something to bring us back together again, especially when it involves food!  Nadia and Stu also popped down to say hello and lend some support.

It was also good to see Josh Emett again, who was to lead the show.  People might think that we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the judges but in person they are a lot nicer, and more helpful than can be seen on the show.  I still see it as a privilege to be able to spend time with such great cooks and share these experiences with them!

And so to the challenges!  Two separate cook offs where we are paired into teams of two to cook a dish in Forty minutes and the ingredients being...........Mystery box!

Of all the challenges the Mystery box was the one which scared contestants the most.  That unknown factor and being put on the spot to come up with something that is going to prove you can cook and also set you aside from all the other contestants.  The hardest part I found was trying to incorporate your own style of food into what you cook.  I love French classic cuisine so if there's no butter, cream, wine or onions I'm a bit lost already!

However once your head is down and you realise you're cooking the pressure drops off and you start to focus on what you know and love.  Food!

Forty minutes to design and cook a dish from scratch was quite a stretch but with two of us on each challenge we managed to get there.  And the dishes on the day worked out really well!  Michael turned out an amazing White Chocolate and Tomato Vinaigrette to match his and Sam's Pork, which wound up trumping the Tomato and apple sauce served with Watercress Salad and Pork Chop from Cam and I.

Round two saw the return of the duck......of course I am very comfortable with this type of!!!!  Michael and I created a Ducklava.  Layers of deep fried rice paper with asian veges, a plum sauce, perfectly cooked duck breast and pistachio nuts.  It was great.  We did run out of time though so it was just a wee bit messy on the plate....and that counted against us as Sam and Cam turned out to win with their simple duck and orange slices.....none out of two for me on the day but still a thoroughly enjoyable day.

The crowd seemed to have a great time and perhaps the strangest part of the whole day was at the end when we had people coming up asking for autographs and photos.  All very surreal!!!  We almost had to organize an orderly line for Cam's fans!

So all in all a great event to be part of.  Thanks very much to Countdown and to all those who came down and said Hello!

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