Being tossed out of MasterChef was not all bad news for landscape gardener Brenton Thornton.
Just as he was facing a bleak trip back home where he has no job and no money, judge Simon Gault offered the evicted finalist a 12-month apprenticeship.
“I’ve seen you cook over the last couple of months,” he told Brenton. “And I’m a believer! I think you can cook, I really think you can! And I think you can be an amazing chef!
“And I’m going to do something I haven’t done before,” he continued. “I’m going to offer you a 12-month Simon Gault apprenticeship.
“At the end of the 12 months after being mentored by my head chefs and me, it will culminate into a full time job at Fish Restaurant under Shane Yardley at the Hilton Hotel,” said Gault. “I will stand beside you and make you a great chef, and we’ll do it together.”
The pressure of being in the top four and cooking in Singapore proved too much for Brenton.
He and Tony Price won the first challenge, preparing street-style hawker food, but the second challenge encapsulated a very different style of Singaporean cuisine – fine dining – in the five-star French restaurant Guy Savoy.
The contestants had just 90 minutes to replicate Michelin-star winning executive chef Eric Bost’s roast pigeon, with a smoked eggplant royale. Brenton ended up in the bottom two with Ana Schwarz.
”Brenton,” said judge Simon Gault, "today you have nailed the presentation but you left the flavours at the front door. Which is so unlike you.”
When he was eliminated, Brenton admitted he was gutted not to get a shot at the MasterChef final but was stoked to be going home to his girlfriend.
“It’s been a long journey and I miss her so much.
“And I’m looking forward to work on Monday!”
We asked Brenton about his time on the show.
What was your biggest success on MasterChef?
Making some good friends and contacts.
What your worst or most embarrassing moment on the show?
Every presentation of every dish pretty much.
What did you learn from being on MasterChef?
A lot about the industry. The standard of food that's available in New Zealand is amazing.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Probably work on my time-management skills.
Who has inspired your passion for cooking?
Anyone who has taught me something new about food.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Changes every day.
If you could visit any restaurant in the world, which one would it be?
Who was your favourite MasterChef contestant?
Too many to list.
What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?
Learn to love stress!
What's next for you?
Sort out my debt, learn more, keep making music.
MasterChef screens on TV One at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.
Read more from the MasterChef kitchen