MasterChef finalist Ben Munro is not thrilled about being the third contestant to leave the show but can see one advantage in his early elimination.
“I’m happy to be going home to see my kids,” he says. ‘It’s my baby’s first birthday next week, so it’s good timing.”
The 33-year-old was kicked out of the kitchen following this week's team challenge: making canapes for 130 guests at a cocktail party on board the HMNZS Canterbury to celebrate the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 70th anniversary.
For Ben, the challenge was always going to be a struggle.
Tasked with making 130 filo cups filled with chicken mushroom pate and fried mushrooms and micro greens, he quickly fell behind.
Judge Josh Emett was quick to pick up on Ben’s lack of productivity, at one stage chastising him for taking several hours to chop liver and make a few filo parcels.
The final nail in the coffin came when he misunderstood instructions from Zee.
Asked to help make a sour cream red onion jam to accompany Zee’s kumara cakes, Ben obliged, adding onion jam to a blender of sour cream. But instead of adding just a third of the jam as instructed by Zee, Ben combined the entire lot.
We asked Ben about his time on the show.
What was your biggest success on MasterChef?
Scoring a knife role and some aprons, and meeting a bunch of cool people.
What was your worst or most embarrassing moment on the show?
The bakery challenge was my worst. Thought I had everything under control until it was time to put my bread in the oven, all downhill from there and the cameras wouldn’t leave me alone.
What did you learn from being on MasterChef?
How to cope working under pressure.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have grabbed some chilli from the pantry during the chicken challenge.
Who has inspired your passion for cooking?
Friends, family and my kids. I do it all for them at the end of the day, literally.
If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
My band mates who are now spread across three different countries. I’d cook sous vide beef fillet with truffle mash potatoes.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
It's got to be a barbecue. Beer in one hand, tongs in the other. Nice and simple.
If you could visit any restaurant in the world, which one would it be?
There used to be a place in Singapore called Newton Circus. It was a big outdoor eating place with all different types of Asian hawker stalls. Its gone now, and I haven’t had the same eating experience in Singapore or anywhere else since.
Who do you think will be New Zealand's next MasterChef?
Who was your favourite MasterChef contestant?
Brenton. He is a real character.
What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?
You have to really love getting your hands dirty with food. If you don’t cook from the heart, it shows on the plate.
What's next for you?
Continue work at Matauwhi Bay Manor in Russell. We have just had a great first season and are looking forward to next summer, and doing a few weddings.
MasterChef screens on TV One at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.
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