French flavours were the downfall of MasterChef finalist Chris Turner who this week became the sixth contestant to leave the show.
Chris was eliminated after a challenge requiring the red and blue teams to cook a French banquet for 100 guests at Auckland bistro La Cigale.
The teams had to prepare and cook from scratch a three-course French banquet plus canapès in just six hours. Dishes included French classics such as vol-au-vents, chicken liver parfait, duck a l’orange, lamb navarin, chocolate mousse and crème caramel.
When the blue team lost it was bon voyage for 27-year-old Chris, named by Warwick as being the least valuable member on the day.
The Christchurch business development manager had been causing concern right from the start of the challenge. Tasked with making the bitter chocolate mousse, he first let the chocolate get too cold, making it difficult to mix together. Warwick Brown was on hand with some cream to fix the problem but Chris was upset by his gaffe.
Next, Chris ran into trouble when he was pouring the mousse into glass dishes, and realised too late that he didn’t have enough mixture to fill them all.
Before going, he thanked the judges for teaching him so much. “I’m sad to be going but I wouldn’t change a thing I’ve done so far,” he said. “I’m so thrilled to have taken part and to have gotten where I am.
“Keep an eye out for me in the future!”
We asked Chris about his time on the show.
What was your biggest success on MasterChef?
I think my biggest success was making it through the audition stage. I was so nervous and terrified at the time, but now looking back I am very proud to have made it to the top 16 and into the actual competition.
What was your worst or most embarrassing moment on the show?
The worst moment on the show was probably being eliminated when making a dessert. It was a dish I have made myself before but I guess the sheer volume required got the better of me on the day. I am still kicking myself for this now.
What did you learn from being on MasterChef?
I learnt quite a few new cooking ideas and techniques. I also learnt how to adapt to living with a large group of new people, something that was very tough at the time as I find it difficult to interact in small groups let alone 15 new people. I did really come to appreciate each of the contestants and most of what I learnt actually came from the group and bouncing ideas off each other.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Oh I would so love to have my time again. The big thing I would change is confidence in myself, this really was my undoing. I should have just embraced and really thrown myself into the experience but sometimes I feel I shied away from things and this became my undoing in my last challenge. But hey, that’s what series four will be for, right? Ha ha!
Who has inspired your passion for cooking?
This may sound strange but I would say myself in a way. I have always struggled to find something I enjoy to do or that I am even good at and cooking, especially patisserie, has really opened my eyes to something I love to do. This in turn really encourages me to pursue it as a dream. I am inspired by great chefs like Adriano Zumbo for his wackiness in his creations and hope to be as successful as he is one day.
If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
Oh, there are so many combinations of three I can think of! I would have to hold at least two dinner parties! One would be for my family back in Guernsey, it has been almost three years since I saw them last and would love to see them again soon! The other would be for my hubby, Nigella Lawson and Adriano Zumbo, just so I could pick their minds for information on how to be as successful as they are and for recipe ideas. I would love to cook a three-course dessert meal, matched with nice wines. I really believe a meal does not have to be made up of sweet and savoury but the right balance of different sweets would work a real treat.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Obviously that would have to be something sweet! I am often making chocolate brownies as they are so easy to make. My recipe is incredibly rich and gooey and perfect for afternoon tea or can easily be dressed up as a pretty looking dessert (that’s if they make it past the afternoon tea!) or put in trifles and sundaes. I have also more recently been playing with macaroons and different flavour combinations – they are great fun to make.
If you could visit any restaurant in the world, which one would it be?
I have often thought that visiting Gordon Ramsays “Hells Kitchen” would be great fun. It would be such an experience watching those chefs being put through an incredibly tough challenge and then eating Gordon’s food at the end, brilliant.
Who was your favourite MasterChef contestant?
I think I would find it hard to choose between two… I love both Chantelle and Andrea. Chantelle was always there when I needed a hug or a chat and Andrea was always around to bring out my cheeky naughty side. Both are lovely people and I look forward to spending more time with them after the competition.
What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?
Have confidence in your own ability! If you cook with confidence it will show on your plate. This was my biggest lesson from the whole journey!
What's next for you?
I am still in the planning stages of what to do next. I am hopefully going to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Wellington, I hope to start the Patisserie Diploma later in the year (depending on funding!) and from there I hope to open my own little patisserie-style cafè with a slightly wacky Willy Wonkerish angle.
MasterChef screens on TV One at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.
Read more from the MasterChef kitchen