Christchurch’s Jax Hamilton was runner-up of MasterChef New Zealand 2011.
What was your biggest success on MasterChef?
The entire competition 18 challenges, 56 hours of cooking, the heat in Melbourne and standing in the MasterChef kitchen knowing I was in the final. I was terrified, but so very proud of myself.
What was your worst moment on the show?
Oooh let me see perhaps when my pink and purple macaroon tower collapsed with seconds to spare. I was devastated as you saw.
What did you learn from being on MasterChef?
My lessons from MasterChef are profound. I learnt that at any age and time in your life you can still reignite a passion and realise personal dreams. I have taught my children Jack and Tom that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it and commit yourself to hard work; after all, you have to dig for treasure.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
In the Spanish challenge, steal all of Nadia's chorizo!
Who has inspired your passion for cooking?
Ray McVinnie for his deep integrity and respect for food; Josh Emett for his amazing attention to detail, the lessons he taught me around kitchen protocols and for introducing me to the world of Michelin stars (not worthy Josh – you ROCK!); and Simon Gault, for his modern and contemporary approach to basic ingredients and the introduction to the evolution of food.
If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
Adolf Hitler, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Eddie Izard (sorry couldn’t stop at three). I wouldn’t need to cook, I think we would start with compassion, followed by knowledge and the results of apathy and finish with a drizzle of humour.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Any type of soup - I LOVE SOUP. You can make something wonderfully nourishing, comforting and creative in such a short amount of time. It’s a real Jamaican dish every mother would make for their kids on a Saturday, whether hot or cold. My current favourite is a spicy tomato-based fish soup – delicious!
If you could visit any restaurant in the world, which one would it be?
Gordon Ramsey at Claridges, Brook Street, London: Chef’s Table : Menu Prestige (lobster ravioli and coconut broth (say no more) – hands down.
What was your most embarrassing moment from the MasterChef kitchen?
When I half-filled my chocolate cone and wandered around the studio with it like a lost dog. In the words of Tracey Lee Hooton, “What WAS I thinking?”
Who was your favourite MasterChef contestant?
Tracey Lee Hooton – what an amazing gift to find in the most unlikely place!
What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?
Keep a level head and respect the food.
What's next for you?
The world is ultimately my oyster. My MasterChef competition is over, but my MasterChef journey is about to start. I already have a book chokka full of Jamaican recipes that I plan to modernise and kiwi-ise and publish. New Zealand needs a kitchen goddess who creates fun, delicious plates to share so watch this space.
Nadia Lim was crowned the winner of MasterChef New Zealand 2011. Read her thoughts on her time in the MasterChef kitchen
Read more from the MasterChef kitchen