MasterChef contestant Chantelle O’Brien was thrown out of the show this week when she came under fire in the Hawkes’ Bay barbecue challenge.
The remaining finalists were charged with creating a signature dish representing the essence of the region, using the core ingredient of spring lamb and other fresh local produce.
From the outset Chantelle O’Brien was inspired by the theme of the challenge.
“It’s all about spring”, she said. “And I’m keeping it really simple: a lamb rack, potatoes and salad. It’s exactly what I would cook at home! It’s me to a T!”
But the high standard of dishes created by the other contestants meant Chantelle didn’t stand a chance.
It’s all very neutral,” said judge Josh Emett at tasting. “Where’s the anchovy I saw you using? If you’re going to use it then go for it! I’m not really getting it.”
“It’s a feeble dish, lacking in flavour,” opined Ray McVinnie. “I don’t know what you’ve done, but you’ve dumbed everything down.”
Accepting defeat, Chantelle bid her fellow contestants a tearful farewell.
“I’m so chuffed that I’ve got so far,” she said. “I’m taking all the bits, the good bits and the bad bits and I’ll use them to my potential to make things work for me in my future.
Chantelle talked about her time on the show with MSN NZ
What was your biggest success on MasterChef?
Definitely winning the challenge and having the private master class with Ala Wolftasker - she is truly inspiring. Winning that challenge, also really allowed me to think wow, I can do this!
What was your worst or most embarrassing moment on the show?
There are a lot of embarrassing words that just flowed out of my mouth, no bad moments, just funny memories, because that's how we roll in Ashburton!! Of course being eliminated rates pretty highly for me as a worst moment, particularly because I knew I could do so much more.
What did you learn from being on MasterChef?
I learnt to believe in my own talent, that the things that I had cooked for a long time were actually classic dishes, I just didn't know they had flash names like Coq au vin!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Aside from seasoning my lamb until I was blue in the face, I wouldn't change a thing.
Who has inspired your passion for cooking?
I have been inspired by so many people, it is hard to pick one. My family, my friends, my wonderful customers at tweLve and of course all these beautiful people I met during Masterchef, they can all stake claim to being my inspiration.
If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
It would have to be Bill Gates, Katy Perry and Jamie Oliver, I would have it covered, brains, beauty, talent and passion. We would have shared plates of italian food, family style dining, so I could load it onto the table and listen to everything they have to say. Don't want to miss a chance to soak up all that knowledge, and sing a few tunes with Katy of course!
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Pan seared chicken, with curried cabbage and champ. It is Damien's, my wonderful man, favourite dish, I love to make food that people truly enjoy, it is so joyful! Plus they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I've got to keep my Irishman happy. Also when I am cooking that, it means that it is family time, my favourite time of the week!!
If you could visit any restaurant in the world, which one would it be?
I don't know the name of it, I don't even know if it exists, but it would be in Italy, serving up the most delicious rustic meals, family style. Beautifully simple and fresh, with exquisite flavours. I can picture it now, if anyone knows of it, let me know.
Who was your favourite MasterChef contestant?
Awww, I can't pick a favourite!! I have made some lifelong friends with my fellow contestants, there are some truly amazing and inspiring people in this group. I have acquired another little brother with Matt, so I guess he would now class himself as family - does that mean I have to pick him as my favourite?
What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?
Always be open to learn new things, don't overcomplicate things, good and fresh ingredients that are cooked simply and deliciously are a winner every time.
What's next for you?
I want to use everything I have learnt during this experience to bring my food to the community, I will be doing this through my bar tweLve and the other catering I do through that. Apart from that the sky is the limit and I am excited about the experiences and the challenges that I will be presented with in the future.
MasterChef screens on TV One at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.
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