Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reclaimed Sundays

August the 31st.  I just checked.  That Tuesday was the day when the much mentioned 'rollercoaster' began.

I was at a friends enjoying a night of good food, good people and good times.  Tiddly and wearing a coat of confidence the gentle coaxing of friends finally lead me to complete an application for the second series of Masterchef NZ.

 That was nine months ago now.  It seems even longer.  Why is it that whenever life presents a rather dramatic change the mind quickly seems to accept that it has been like that forever?  Almost like it was waiting for you to catch up.

It's so strange to look back at it all and start to realize what I've put myself through.  Moments of excitement balanced equally with moments of sheer panic.  A lot of soul searching.  A lot of food.

The experience overall was one of amazing self discovery.  Naturally a shy individual I gained so much from being forced into an extended sabbatical outside of my comfort zone.  I can now recount experiences which twelve months ago I would never have dreamed of.  And I owe it all to simply giving it a go.

I find myself now a changed cook. Born a Virgo I have always been marked as a planner.  Fastidious and exact it is part of me that I know as much as I can before I even think to commit.  This is how I cooked.  Shackled by recipes I practiced what I read.  If I couldn't find someone else who had tried it, I wouldn't attempt it myself.  If nothing else this constriction gave me a great understanding of the classics.  Tried and tested recipes were my forte.  However creativity was not.

The Masterchef kitchen does not allow cook books.  It does not have much time for copy cats either.  We were forced to think on our feet and forced to dig deep into whatever knowledge and whatever creativity that we possessed.  Under the pressure of expectation you learned to perform.  The fear of embarrassment in front of of a nation is something worth trying to avoid.  Some of us were successful at that.  Some of us not.

So here I am now sitting in my lounge enjoying my Sunday safe in the knowledge that my knife sharpening skills will not be flashed across the screen this evening.  People often ask what it is like seeing yourself on the TV.  The hardest thing about it is that we don't have the privilege of seeing the show before anyone else.

While we were there when the action happened the power of the editing room can make events seem a little different to how they actually occurred.  Watching yourself do something silly in the knowledge that a good part of the country has just seen it to can be hard to digest and can cause a rather sleepless evening!

After a monumental final last Sunday where the two girls, Jax and Nadia, were put through four grueling tests the winner was finally announced.  Nadia is the new Masterchef of New Zealand.

Both girls did amazingly well throughout the competition and they are both supremely talented individuals, each with their own strengths.  I have no doubt that both are going to go on in this food world to be very successful.  I would buy both of their cook books that's for sure!

Here's a few of the things which really made the show for me.

The highlights of the show:

Living in a Mansion:  I can't say I would spend $10 mill to live there permanently myself but there is a certain satisfaction at having been able to pretend like we were taking part in an episode of MTV cribs.  The bed I was sleeping on was worth $120k alone.  It was quite comfortable.

First walk into the Masterchef Kitchen:  The first time we saw the studio kitchen, which would become our second home, was the 1st Top 12 challenge.  Standing outside we were all like excited, nervous school kids.

Meeting so many great people:  The contestants, the judges, the crew.  There were so many wonderful, happy, food loving people around you 24/7.  After being on the TV it's so nice to have people come up and wish you good luck as well.

The Food:  We dined like kings in that Mansion.  And as we knew how to cook for kings it was amazing!  Simple dinners quickly turned into four course extravaganzas.

Michael 'The Kitchen Ninja' Lee's Asian Impersonation:  It is very, very good.  Surprisingly.

Jax and her pretty pink PJ's:  The only things brighter in the house than Jax's bubbly personality were her PJ's.

Truffles and Bifkin:  It requires a bit of explanation but let's just say we talked a lot about truffles.

The cookbook:  Now released the series 2 cookbook contains recipes from all of top 12 as well as from the judges.  It will be a very surreal experience when I am able to add this special tome to my adored collection of recipe books which take pride of place in my kitchen.

And so now we move onto that next phase of life.  As they say:  This is not end, it is merely the beginning.

If anyone has any questions about the show or is keen to enter the next series and wants some advice feel free to drop me an email.

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