A seat at Chelsea Winter's table

By Colleen Thorpe


Chelsea Winter is a cool, calm and determined young woman - and an awesome cook as well. She proved that to a critical television audience and three tough judges, winning last year's MasterChef New Zealand.

WHAT QUALITY DO YOU THINK MADE YOU STAND OUT FROM THE OTHER CONTESTANTS ON MASTERCHEF NEW ZEALAND?


It takes a lot to stress me out. I handle pressure quite well and seemed to be able to find my own zone in which just to focus on the food and not the cameras or the other contestants. That probably helped a lot - the pressure was ridiculous.

WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU LEARNED FROM THE COMPETITION?


That I can do anything I set my mind to.

WHAT WAS THE BEST THING (APART FROM WINNING) AND THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN DURING FILMING?


There were so many epic high and low moments that it's hard to single two out. The friendships I made during filming are something I cherish; we got along so well. Blowing out and failing at challenges was always the worst ...

my melted icecream stack was pretty bad.

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE RECIPES FOR THIS BOOK?


I sat down and thought about all my favourite meals - what I love to cook and eat, and what I know other people love eating when I cook. So basically it's just filled with delicious food! I also used some great family recipes as I wanted to share those too.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE FROM THE BOOK?


It's very hard to pick out just one. Buffalo wings with blue cheese aioli is a pretty good one - people come from miles around when they hear I'm cooking them.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET INGREDIENT?


Salt, because without it everything would taste bland and awful. And butter. It makes everything wonderful.

WHAT IS YOUR STYLE OF COOKING?


Very relaxed, real food.

WHAT AND WHO HAVE INFLUENCED THIS STYLE?


Growing up with a family who love food and a very clever mother who is an amazing cook. Mum can make a meal out of anything. She's actually far more creative than me.

WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF FOOD?


Cooking terrible Milo cakes in the microwave and forcing my family to eat them. Yuck!

DO YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE DISH?


My chicken pie is pretty well known. It's my husband's favourite.

WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO COOK FOR AND WHO WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO COOK FOR YOU?


I'd love to cook with, and for, Jamie Oliver - he's pretty fantastic. Who would I like to cook for me? Anyone who makes delicious food, really. I think it would be lovely to have Rick Stein cook for me. Him or the three MasterChef judges - one course each, thanks.

WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVOURITE NEW ZEALAND FOODS?


Everything! Butter, cheese and garlic.

IS THERE ANY FOOD YOU HATE?


Sadly no - although I find yams a bit hard to deal with because they look just like my toes.

WHAT IS IN YOUR FRIDGE AT THE MOMENT?


It's crammed to the gunnels with food - everything you can think of. Lots of cheese left over from the wedding and things left over from food shoots.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DESERT ISLAND DISH?


Something fresh and light, because presumably it's hot and dry on the island. Fresh fish and salad?

WHAT ARE THREE THINGS PEOPLE WILL BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU?


I don't take myself very seriously ... if you can't laugh at yourself, then what's the point?

I eat all the chicken skin and bacon fat my husband leaves behind on his plate.

I was a farm girl growing up; hardly ever wore shoes, not scared of a little mud. I still hate shopping for shoes and clothes. Food shopping is so much more fun.

IF YOU HAD A SUPER POWER WHAT WOULD IT BE?


I'm going to say the ability to fly, because that would be the greatest thing ever. See you later, Auckland traffic.

IF YOU WERE ON MASTERMIND, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE?


I'll go with "food"?

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER, MASTERCHEF NEW ZEALAND ASIDE, TO BE YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT?


Having wonderful relationships with my all family and friends - people are the most important thing in life.

- Hamilton News

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