The d' />

He was crowned New Zealand's first MasterChef - and went back to teaching. But Brett McGregor has left the classroom, at least for a while.

The dedicated deputy principal of Christchurch's Branston Intermediate has taken a leave of absence while he completes his first cookbook.

This week at school is his last for a month. During that period he will test new recipes on his wife and son, before heading to Auckland to kickstart the book's production.

The book deal was part of his prize package after he beat Aucklander Kelly Young in the final.

Although McGregor emphasises he is not planning to leave his teaching job permanently, he can't deny the top-rating TVOne show has given him a taste for more of the culinary world. "I'm trying to do as many things as I can.

"A couple of opportunities have come up, but they're not that real or concrete yet.

"I went into it wanting a TV show and nothing has changed so far."

McGregor says his cookbook will feature dishes from Spain, Morocco and Asia and show "how travelling can influence your culinary world at home".

Between cooking at home and working on his book, he will visit top Christchurch chef Johnny Schwass for cooking lessons.

Branston Intermediate principal Jennifer O'Leary supports McGregor's leave because he has shown students they have to work hard to achieve their goals.

He will be around during his time off - coaching rugby, working with the school council and on the school production.

"We have enjoyed celebrating with him. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person."

With applications for the second series of MasterChef New Zealand open, McGregor has a few tips for amateur cooks.

"Don't get any delusions of grandeur. Just cook what you know.

"Make sure you know your products - and use salt! Use more salt than you've ever used before."