Zee Tana became the tenth contestant from the Top 16 to leave MasterChef New Zealand.
The Top Seven contestants were introduced to the Young Guns, three of the
'hottest' young chefs in Auckland: Hayden McMillan from Tribeca, Nick Honeyman from Cru and Makoto Tokuyama from Cocoro.
The contestants were presented with each chef's signature dish, all five-star restaurant meals with complex, intricate processes requiring a high level of skill.
Displaying his usual quiet confidence, Zee Tana thought he could impress with an unconventional Korean tasting plate for his entree dish.
His main course, a ginger and orange pork belly was followed by a soft fruit and basil terrine.
But his bubble of optimism was burst when the judges’ tasting revealed his dishes to be unequivocal failures.
Sampling the Korean tasting plate, judge Ray McVinnie’s face screwed up in distaste as he chewed through what he described as dry and sandy beef.
His disdain didn’t stop there, as he slammed the authenticity of the ‘kimchi’ Zee had also included on the plate.
“It can’t be kimchi,” Ray sniffed. “That takes time to ferment!"
"I hope you don’t know any Koreans, because with this dish they will be after you!”
Next it was Josh Emett’s turn, as he tasted the ginger and orange pork belly.
“This is the worst pork belly I have ever tasted!” he exclaimed. “And the sauce is sickly sweet.”
Simon Gault didn’t hold back in assessing the soft fruit and basil terrine. Unset and soggy, Gault described it as being at best, a ‘very poor fruit salad.'
In the bottom two alongside Matt Gilray, 27-year-old Tana admitted his signature risk taking might have finally got the better of him.
“Taking the high risk option, you get the high rewards. But you can also fail,” he mused.
Told to pack up and leave the MasterChef kitchen, he said that he had learnt from his mistakes.
“Being in this competition has taught me so much more than I’ve ever known and ever absorbed in my life. So it’s definitely pointed me in the right direction. “
Tana spoke to MSN NZ about his time on MasterChef
What was your biggest success on MasterChef?
The biggest success I found with MasterChef would definitely have to be knowing that with every single challenge whether team or individual I put in my 110% effort, thought and skill. I took risks and tested myself sometimes for the better and other times at the benefit of learning a lesson, but always committing to getting the job done.
What was your worst or most embarrassing moment on the show?
I think the most memorable moment of my MasterChef faux pas would have to be the generous amount of eggs that I and many others feed to the infamous greedy garbage bin in the Bakery Challenge at Loaf, definitely would’ve got a kick in the butt from my Nana for wasting the kai, ouch!
What did you learn from being on MasterChef?
MasterChef was an ever evolving, changing, surprising competition for me and it taught me that I can definitely stand the heat in the kitchen, sometimes I’d freak and it showed in my over emphasised facials and bald head sweats and at other times it was internal and I could keep my cool. I know where I want to be and that is in the kitchen where my head and heart are and working with food where my blood, bald head sweat and true tears are, not literally, that would be a law suit waiting to happening.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I could repeat my time in MasterChef again, I would have to say that I would have liked to have taken more time and really focused on taking note of techniques, styles and recipes that the judges, guest judges and other contestant had in their own shared knowledge and repertoires, but don’t regret the knowledge I gained or the adventure I experienced.
Who has inspired your passion for cooking?
My Nan was the most inspirational person in my kitchen life. She would always be in the kitchen preparing traditional food; fancy cuisine and sometimes her own style of mixed it all up and make it yummy. She would always use her own produce from my Grandads awesome gardens and I grasped the whole concept of ‘home grown food is the best kind of food, coz you know what’s gone in it’, Cheers Nana and Grandad Tana you were great teachers, true inspirations.
If you were having any three people, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?
I would have My Nana Tana, My little brother Jeffrey and My Mum as my guests and I would cook them a massive Hangi with some good hearty cuts of Beef, Wild Boar, Kumara, Maori Potato, Watercress, Puha with the help of my Whanau because that is not a one man job and some of Nanas Self Saucing Chocolate and Caramel Steam Pudding to send the rest downtown to awesome town.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
My favourite dish I prepared would have to be my Lamb on the BBQ, because I have never attempted to cook Lamb on a BBQ before and found out that it can be done and that my BBQ skills are pretty wicked. Go the BBQ!
If you could visit any restaurant in the world, which one would it be?
I would love to experience the mind boggling cuisine at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Restaurant, not only has it been awarded three Michelin stars but the man and his restaurant are the set standard of cuisine nouveau and he is just a good honest bloke that is just obsessed with good food.
Who do you think will be New Zealand's next MasterChef?
I think Charlene is one of the most honest, humble and skilful cooks in the kitchen. She just has a presence about her that makes you feel at ease and as if your just cooking next to her in her kitchen. She has a great personality and just an overall beautiful spirit.
Who was your favourite MasterChef contestant?
My favourite MasterChef contestant would have to have been Chelsea ’Winny’ Winter, she has the most contagious bubbly personality and can make light of any situation no matter how dire or stressful it can be, definitely going to miss her singing Crowded House and just being silly kids in the house together.
What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?
If you don’t give it ago then you never ever will and you will only ever live in regret, skill and technique can be taught but passion and obsession is in the blood and spirit.
What's next for you?
I am about to embark on an adventure to North Queensland with my amazing man Daz and our two handsome Staffies Koby and Jack. We are working on Daz’s steel construction business and I am taking on selling big dreams and holiday destiinations with Flight Centre Ltd but the food is ever present in my life and I am looking at preparing and running my own market stall ‘Big Blue SkyZ’, cooking gourmet style quick, street food for an affordable price and also working on ‘Education of the Nation’ my own personal look into the reasons why we are becoming intolerant to food and why our youth are losing teeth and gaining the gut at such a young age as opposed to 10 – 20 years ago and the solutions we can look into education ourselves and families into eating better and at a more affordable cost.