From Maketu to the pressure-cooker conditions of MasterChef New Zealand, the culinary skills of sisters Karena and Kasey Bird have been impressing the judges and the country on the TV One cooking show.
The women said they had never considered going on the show before but decided to enter after hearing about the new format of contestants taking part in pairs. They put their studies and work at a Maori trust on hold to take part in the show, which was filmed last year.
"They came out to Maketu and just asked us some general cooking questions before being shortlisted and then we had to go to Auckland for the first episode, the first week of auditions."
The sisters won the judges over to make it into the top 15 with their cream paua ravioli dish.
"We've always loved cooking and it's been part of our family, getting together and celebrating around food, it's always been around the centre," Karena, 25, said.
They both loved eating out but, living in Maketu, they learned to cook quality meals because often the nearest restaurant was 45 minutes away.
"We live next door to each other and across the road from our parents, so we all take turns cooking at mum and dad's each night ... we cook everything but seafood is definitely our favourite as people always drop it off to us," Kasey, 23 said.
"When they [judges] first talked to us we were just in a daze and [as] they are eating your dishes you feel kind of sick and numb," she said.
"The kitchen is like a different world but as soon as you have your task you don't really think about the cameras and just concentrate on what you're doing," Karena said.
While it was a competition, the sisters said they got on well with all their fellow contestants and were still friends with them today.
Having each other and the support of their "tight-knit" family and community is what the women credit for getting them through the challenges of the show.
"It's been a really valuable experience and for us. It's really cemented our passion for food and we know that it's what we want to do in life," Kasey said.Masterchef New Zealand is on Sunday nights at 7.30pm on TV One. You can also follow the sisters' progress on Facebook.