Top cook's recipe for success

By Liz Dobson

MasterChef winner likes her food fresh and her cars economical and safe, she tells Liz Dobson

Chelsea uses the Skoda Superb wagon for weekends away to visit family out of Auckland, and appreciates the economy of the diesel engine.Picture / Ted Baghurst
Chelsea uses the Skoda Superb wagon for weekends away to visit family out of Auckland, and appreciates the economy of the diesel engine.Picture / Ted Baghurst

As the contestants in the latest series of MasterChef on TV One find the competition heating up, Driven has caught up with last season's winner, Chelsea Winter. Her prize pack included a 2012 Skoda Superb wagon with a 2-litre diesel engine.

The Auckland-based former marketing executive is now focusing on a career with food. Her first cookbook, At My Table, is released this Friday, plus she's just been announced as an ambassador for New Zealand Beef & Lamb.

Since her win, she's also attended numerous food festivals and events around the country, demonstrating her cooking skills.

Chelsea explains why the Skoda is part of her recipe for success:

What was your first impression of the Skoda you won?
It was love at first sight! It's a pretty sexy car, really. It's grunty and a bit angry-looking, which I like, but still has a nice air of European elegance about it. Then, when I hopped in and drove it for the first time, I was well and truly smitten.

It's smooth, comfortable and has a nice bit of pep. I also feel very safe in it - and that's a plus when you live in a city teeming with crazy drivers. A woman almost crashed into me at high speed the other day - she was preoccupied with lighting her cigarette. Case in point!

What trips have you taken in the Skoda?
I have family in Otorohanga and Mount Maunganui, so the Skoda has been our trusty and reliable steed for many a weekend getaway, packed to the gunwales with luggage, surfboards, kitesurfers, dogs and humans.

I also travel a lot these days for work, to various events around the place, and it's perfect for that.

As it is a diesel do you find it economical to run?
It's ridiculously economical. Last time I spent $80 to fill the tank right up and it lasted 670km. That's my kind of car!

How has the Skoda helped you with your new cooking career?It's been fantastic. Being able to go where I need to go, not worry about not having enough space for things, not spending a fortune on petrol, and feeling safe and secure while I'm driving, are all very important qualities in a car for me. It makes life easier so you can focus on the important things.

If you were going for a picnic in the Skoda, what food would you pack?
I'm a traditional girl - I'd pack a home-roasted chook with ciabatta stuffing, potato salad with homemade mayo, fresh crusty bread rolls slathered with pure NZ butter, some cheese, good quality chocolate and, of course, a bottle of pinot gris. And the dog.

What do Sprite, the dog, and your husband, Mike Bullot, think about the car?
Mike drives the car whenever he can while Sprite sits in the boot on towels, and I'm sure she's quite pleased with her spacious reclining area.

It's going to be a fantastic family car to have when we eventually have children.

What was your first car?
It was a light blue 1989 Toyota Corolla called "Little Blue" - I was 15. Then I wrote it off when I crashed on the Southern Motorway in rush-hour traffic. Whoops.

I then had another Toyota Corolla sedan, a Subaru Legacy, a Subaru Impreza (stolen - no surprises there), a Nissan Primera, and a Suzuki Swift (lovely, but so tiny) prior to the Skoda.

So, as you can see, "Skody" is a step up ...

Have you had memorable international road trips?
I drove through Ireland with my parents when I was about 18, and that was beautiful - casual castle ruins in every second paddock.

What is your favourite New Zealand road trip?
It's not really a road trip as such, but I love driving on Great Barrier Island - I've been going there since I was a kid. Back in the day no one worried about WoF or regos. We drove these clapped-out cars around the windy gravel roads, picked up hitchhikers, and you waved at every other car you saw.

What's a great weekend foodie destination out of Auckland?
Mike and I recently went to Russell and dined at The Gables - it was fantastic. Highly recommended.

What road trips do you have planned this year?
Mike and I are planning a big tour of the whole country later in the year. It's going to be amazing to discover all those little hidden pockets of magic dotted all over the country, way off the beaten track.

If your Skoda was a meal, what would it be?
A perfectly cooked eye fillet steak with a glass of silky, top-notch pinot noir and velvety parmesan mash. Toot! toot!

- NZ Herald

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