We don't know their names yet but the third season of MasterChef NZ starts with 24 contestants as fresh meat for the reality cooking contest's chopping board.

Last year's series had a memorable cast of amateur chefs willing to put their cooking skills on the line in front of the nation.

They included the effervescent Tracey Lee with her hilarious mumsy observations; gentle giant Cameron who won hearts with his humble demeanour and masterful strokes of genius; gregarious and ever-calm school teacher Stu, with his constant seasoning issues; quick-witted Jax with her Jamaican fire; and the winner, Nadia, nicknamed the Crying Chef, because despite her culinary skills and knowledge of healthy cuisine, she managed to shed tears under the pressure of the challenges in nearly every episode.

This Tuesday, the series returns for a third season with judges Josh Emett, Simon Gault and Ray McVinnie back for more intensive auditions, collapsing dessert towers, and the occasional dismal taste combination.


This time there will be more episodes, with more cooks competing in more contests in more locations, both here and overseas, battling it out for $100,000 in prizes.

Some of the challenges include an all-night bake-off at Auckland's Loaf bakery, catering for a cocktail party for naval personnel on the flight deck of the frigate Canterbury, and cooking a French-style banquet for VIPs from the hospitality industry at Auckland restaurant La Cigale.

They'll also be visiting Elephant Hill Winery in Hawkes Bay and posh retreat Huka Lodge.

This year, instead of heading to Australia for some of the final episodes, the few remaining contestants will be flown to Singapore. Remember the sweaty Sydney Market challenge from season two? Just imagine that in the bustle and heat of Southeast Asia. As long as they don't make them prepare a durian.

There will be a line-up of guest chefs, including Che Barrington from modern Thai restaurant Moo Chow Chow; Michael van de Elzen, star of The Food Truck; La Cigale's Warwick Brown; Annabel Langbein; rising stars Nick Honeyman, Hayden McMillan and Makoto Tokuyama; award-winning chef Michael Meredith; and Rick Stein.

And to satiate you in between the challenge episodes there will also be masterclasses. So along with those game enough to be on TV, you can pick up some tips and tricks to use at home.

Mystery box challenges, pressure tests and invention tests will all be returning. We hope that they've made adjustments this time so no one's fate is left in the hands of a bunch of 7-year-olds (like poor Fiona), and realise that the ability to construct a ridiculous tower of macarons does not make you a top chef.

When: Tuesday, 7.30pm
Where: TV One
What: More tears over spilled milk and other ingredients