Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Jennis struggled with MasterChef secrets

Jennis Hayes was eliminated from MasterChef for her meal in Fiji.Photo / Supplied
Jennis Hayes was eliminated from MasterChef for her meal in Fiji.Photo / Supplied

The latest contestant to be eliminated from MasterChef New Zealand, Jennis Hayes, found it tricky keeping the show's secrets safe.

The 25-year-old food technology teacher has been constantly quizzed by her students.

"It's so hard keeping a secret," she said. "They have little bets going on."

Jennis had a lucky seat among the top eight contestants who were flown to Fiji.

There, the first challenge didn't call on the contestants' culinary skills - just a bit of luck picking the right crab to race on the sand.

Vanessa won, while it seemed the unstoppable Aaron finally slipped up.

"I want to eat some crab, and I like the look of that one," said the Raglan yoga dad, pointing at his loser.

However, when it came to the follow-up challenge, Vanessa felt she drew the short straw. The line-up in the crab comp was to determine the cooking order in the Huka Lodge kitchen.

Vanessa would have all day to stew over her meal plan for the challenge: To cook a Fijian meal that could be served in the five-star resort restaurant. Something simple, honest, refined, but not fiddly.

Huka Lodge executive chef Michel Louws would critique what went on in the kitchen during the challenge.

Jennis struggled with a huge freshly caught fish, promising a pan-fried coral trout with palusami and tropical fruit with painted crawfish tail. "I don't fillet fish because you go to the super-market and it's already done," she said.

Louws tried to show her how to do it, but said he was disappointed in her lack of skill, and described her work as "confused" and "rough". He had to step in at one stage and force her to clean up to stop the flies from buzzing around the food.

Upon reflection, Jennis admitted she could have done better.

"I know how to fillet a fish," she said. "I think the mistake was asking how he wanted the fish filleted. I wasn't sure because of the size of the fish."

Contest judge Ray McVinnie said the trout was a "tasteless letdown" and her take on palusami was slammed by Josh Emett: "That's going to kill someone if it falls out of a tree, it's just dead weight."

The plate she served was given a four out of ten.

Jennis hadn't hung out among the bottom of the contest before, so it was a bit of a surprise when she was sent home in tears.

"You just wish that things had gone differently."

* MasterChef New Zealand screens on TV One on Sunday nights. www.nzherald.co.nz will interview every contestant as they are eliminated.

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