Eliminated MasterChef contestant Tony Price has spoken out about the decision that sparked a nationwide debate about narking - and says he still believes he made the right call.
Price was involved in the reality show's biggest controversy when he dobbed in two contestants - next week's finalists Ana Schwarz and Chelsea Winter - for sharing ingredients during a Singapore-based challenge.
The duo were told it was against the rules and the challenge's prize - a flash meal out - was gifted to Price and Brenton Thornton. All four contestants were still up for elimination in the next challenge.
Price said he made a split-second decision to dob the pair in during a lunch break when Winter told him she'd swapped her lemongrass for Schwarz's fish sauce in the challenge.
"The final decision I made was, 'Well, if these two win the challenge and get away with this and I get eliminated as a result I'll kick myself for not speaking up'," he told nzherald.co.nz.
"I knew it was risky (but) I never felt bad about about doing it or I wouldn't have done it in the first place."
Price, who was eliminated from the show on Tuesday after serving what was called "slightly undercooked" chicken, said the judges handled the incident badly.
"What I wasn't expecting was to win the dinner by default. I hated that with an enormous amount of vitriol. It denied me the opportunity to have my dishes tasted by their own merits in regards to that prize, and it implicated Brenton and served him the same fate off the back of something that I'd done.
"That was a screwy, wrong, bad decision that they made. They should have gone, 'Righto, everyone's dishes will be judged (and) Brenton and Tony will have immunity'. I think Ana and Chelsea should have gone (head-to-head) in the pigeon challenge."
An overwhelming 57 per cent of respondents to an nzherald.co.nz poll backed Price and said either Winter or Schwarz should have been eliminated instead of Thornton, while another 18 per cent said Price did the right thing, but Thornton should still have gone home.
Price said polls like that made him "fizz" and proved he'd made the right decision to dobb them in.
"Up till that point, I hadn't gone onto any of the blog sites. I hadn't looked at a single one of them. Curiosity got the best of me and I had to see how hatey the haters were. Some of them were really hatey, in a predictably pathetic way.
"What was really nice was how many people that don't know me were supporting me. All these things were said on my behalf by people I didn't know. That was really flattering."
Despite the controversy, Price said he was good friends with Schwarz and Winter.
"We're really good mates, we all laugh about it. Brenton's a very good friend of mine, the girls - we're really good mates, particularly Chelsea and I. We speak every day, have dinners and wines and have a few laughs.
"It's one of the great things that's come out of this, I can't speak highly enough of Chelsea and Ana."
The two-hour finale of MasterChef New Zealand screens on TV One next Tuesday night.
- Herald onlineBy Chris Schulz @chris__schulz Email Chris