Nicky is former editor of Life & Style online.

MasterChef victims 'shocked' by elimination

Thiago de Almeida Schalch and Janaina Mendes have become the first duo eliminated from MasterChef.
Thiago de Almeida Schalch and Janaina Mendes have become the first duo eliminated from MasterChef.

The first casualties have been cast aside in relaunched reality show MasterChef after a complicated cake challenge in which the first pair eliminated forgot to include several key ingredients.

A "shocked" Janaina Mendes and Thiago de Almeida Schalch - Brazilian-born, Auckland-based foodies who were introduced by a mutual friend - were eliminated last night from the TV One reality show.

Their Little Black Forest cakes were ruled as being "watery" by judges after Schaich forgot to include sherry in the mixture. Mendes also forgot to include the cherries.

Challenge creator Donna Hay said the pair's cakes had "no cherry or kirsch taste, so it's just a chocolate cake," while judge Josh Emett said it was "boring, flat ... a poorly made cake".

The first ever challenge was mayhem all around: Emett described the kitchen as a "war zone," one of the contestants set her recipe on fire and a stressed Hay walked around trying to repair an array of "disaster cakes".

Mendes said she thought she and Schalch were safe - "We will do very well," she said - and admitted at judging that she thought the task was about a five out of 10 on the hardness scale.

But Hay, an Australian chef, admitted she wanted to give the contestants a tough test for their first-up challenge.

"I guess in hindsight I could have set them something easier, but it did sort out what they had in them," Hay told when she was in town filming the episode.

"I said to them in the beginning, read the recipe and be precise when you're baking. I must have said it about 10 times.

"I haven't had that much chocolate on myself ... probably ever."

This year's instalment of MasterChef has pairs of wannabe cooks competing in the kitchen for the next reality TV title - the first time it has been tried on the show.

They've recruited a mixed bag of culinary contenders: there's the playful siblings from Christchurch; the old, messy mates from Wellington; a couple of likable food science nerds who met on the net, a beauty Queen and her "rock"; and Melanie and Cerry - cute, shy sisters from Auckland with a South-East Asian flare.

The same three judges are back - Ray McVinnie, Simon Gault and Emett - who seems to have really stepped up the bad cop routine.

Some favourite fiery quips from Emett during the opening episodes included: "You work like pigs in the kitchen," and "rubbish, rubbish, everywhere rubbish, you're in my kitchen, move your arse make something happen, it better be good, honestly".

But the line of the night went to McVinnie for his compliment to the ex-girlfriends who presented a sloppy-looking bourbon chocolate cake.

"This is rub it all over your body sort of stuff," he said.

Fourteen duos remain in the MasterChef competition, which screens on TV One on Sunday and Monday nights at 7.30pm.


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