We don't like narks - but we like cheats less

By Chris Schulz, Russell Blackstock

Tony Price. Photo / Supplied
Tony Price. Photo / Supplied

Give the man a knighthood: it turns out that narks like MasterChef's Tony Price are the new Kiwi heroes.

Leading psychologists say two contestants dobbed in on MasterChef for cheating is a victory for old-fashioned fair play over a deeply-ingrained Kiwi disdain for narking, and a nzherald.co.nz poll reveals 75 per cent of viewers thought he did the right thing.

Competitor Tony Price controversially dobbed in fellow finalists Ana Schwarz and Chelsea Winter for swapping ingredients in a Singapore-based challenge this week. Despite this, the two women went through to the next round with Price, and Brenton Thornton was eliminated.

"I feel for him, a lot of people are giving him a hard time," said Thornton.

"I stand by Tony and what he did, he's a good man. I'm sure people in sporting situations, they'd let people know if they felt cheated."

Narking has traditionally gone against the grain for most New Zealanders, said psychologist Sara Chatwin, but in this case it was justified.

"Although most Kiwis generally don't like narks, on this occasion a sense of fair play came into place and the dobbing in was justified," Chatwin said.

Dr Douglas Elliffe, head of psychology at the University of Auckland, said anti-narking attitudes often started in the school playground, but he reckoned a recent trait of high-profile whistleblowers speaking out about wrong-doing within the workplace has helped change people's perceptions of a nark.

"The rise of the whistleblower who highlights social injustice is now seen as being a good thing," Elliffe said.

"In general, people don't like telling on each other but in the recent MasterChef situation a fairness angle would have been present. And New Zealanders do not like cheats."

Relations between the remaining three contestants are expected to be strained in the next MasterChef episode, being screened at 7.30pm on TV One on Tuesday.

Thornton said: "I firmly believe that Tony did the right thing. There was no clarification of what we could and couldn't do."

Tension was high between Tony and the girls following the incident. "We were staying pretty much near the top floor [of our hotel]. It was the longest elevator ride up to our rooms. The tension was so thick, it was terrible.

"Chelsea got over it really quickly, she understood why Tony did it. Ana held a grudge for quite a bit, but they're all over it.

"I've just been stuck in the middle of it, trying to keep my head out of the firing line."

This week's elimination had a happy ending for Thornton, who was immediately offered a 12-month apprenticeship with MasterChef judge Simon Gault.

THEN THERE WERE THREE

The three MasterChef finalists are:

* Aucklander Tony Price is as comfortable playing online poker as he is in the kitchen, raking in hundreds of dollars on a good day. The 34-year-old landscaper is also a mean rock guitarist and has a wicked sense of humour.

* Chelsea Winter, 27, is a marketing executive from Auckland who says life growing up on a farm has made her relatively tough. She says her no-nonsense style of cooking is "Kiwi classics with a twist" - simple food made well.

* Waiheke Island mum Ana Schwarz, 40, is a fierce competitor who insists she is a happy, smiley person who comes across as just the opposite on the show.

BEST CHEF ALWAYS WINS

Josh Emett says that the best chef will prevail in the grand final of MasterChef next week.

Emett said that he had found it easy keeping the identity of the winner a secret.

"Keeping the secret has been pretty easy but as soon as people start asking questions I have to watch myself," he said.

Emett said he had already signed up for next season.

"It's been a great series, there's been lots of drama and lots of great food."

Emett believed that, like last year's winner Nadia Lim, the best chef wins the competition.

Emett spoke before preparing a six-course meal for 50 people at the Cape Kidnappers resort in Hawke's Bay with his childhood friend and Felton Road winemaker Blair Walter.

Emett and Walter grew up on farms in less than 10km apart in rural Waikato, and their fathers were both involved in the local Lions.

A chance meeting 10 years ago led to the friendship being rekindled and Walter's Felton Road pinot noirs and chardonnays being stocked in Emett's illustrious overseas restaurants.

Walter does food and wine pairings all over the world, but said it was special working with a celebrity chef and childhood buddy.

The price for last night's meal, $800 per person per night, included accommodation, breakfast, pre-dinner drinks and canapes, chef's dinner with matched wines, and choice of a 50-minute massage or round of golf per person.

Meanwhile, Travel + Leisure Magazine readers have chosen The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs as Number 1 World's Best Awards 2012 - World's Best Service.

- Herald on Sunday

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