MasterChef's latest victim says his sick mum helped him score a spot on the show.
Zee Tana, a Kiwi living in Queensland, was last night eliminated from MasterChef New Zealand after judges described his Korean tasting plate as "dry and sandy" and his fruit terrine collapsed. Six competitors are left.
Tana, 26, told nzherald.co.nz he only ended up on MasterChef after coming back to New Zealand to look after his mother.
"She was a bit sick and she needed a little bit of care so I came back to help her out a bit ... Me coming home for my mum is definitely the reason I ended up on the show," he said.
His mum, who has now recovered from her illness, calls Tana after every episode. She wasn't happy about his elimination.
"She'll be crying and saying, 'The judges shouldn't talk to you like that, my boy'. I'm like, 'Mum, don't worry about it'."
Tana didn't think he deserved to be eliminated, saying: "I don't reckon I cooked the worst dish".
"I think I could have maybe lasted another round. The recipe would have worked perfectly - if I had executed it properly.
"I was a little bit scattered. On that day there was just too much, it overwhelmed me. It's not that I didn't cope, I just didn't pre-plan properly like I normally would."
He admitted struggling to turn his recipes into gourmet-style meals.
"If I'm going to do something like (the Korean tasting plate) it's going to be massive - not petite on a little plate, made gourmet as an entree."
Despite the setback, Tana wants to pursue a career in food.
"This has proved to me that I have what it takes ... I can handle the pressure and I think the whole way through I showed I didn't stress too much in the kitchen.
"I was pretty much just normal old me. That shows me that's where I need to be and I want to get into the food industry."
* MasterChef New Zealand screens on TV One every Tuesday night. nzherald.co.nz will chat to every contestant as they are eliminated.
- Herald online