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Vanessa Baxter Leaves Masterchef New Zealand

Vanessa Baxter Leaves Masterchef New Zealand

Vanessa Baxter became the thirteenth contestant from the Top 16 to leave MasterChef New Zealand on Sunday 19 May 2013 (7.30 pm – 8.30 pm) on TV ONE.

In tonight’s show, the Top Four contestants faced the ultimate invention test – cooking whatever they liked, with whatever ingredients they liked.

Performing for not only for the MasterChef judges, they also faced a very hard taskmaster: guest judge Ben Bayly, executive chef of award-winning Auckland restaurant The Grove.

Paula Saengthian-Ngam’s Thai green curry with fish balls and coconut rice was named the best dish of the day.

Vanessa Baxter was initially floored by the concept of the challenge.

“I wasn’t expecting to be given carte blanche.” she explained.

“I can’t breathe; I am so overwhelmed by the ideas of what I can cook!"

Deciding on preparing duck three ways, she confessed she was desperate to be in the Top Three.

“I want the judges to be impressed with me. And I think, if I’ve made it this far in the competition, I can keep going.”

With just 90 minutes to prepare her dishes, she set to creating a smoker out of two woks to smoke the duck.

The MasterChef judges watched her with interest.

“She’s got so much going on,” said Simon Gault. “She’s cooking smoked duck breast, a duck dumpling, and a crusted duck leg."

“She’s trying to impress us too much,” said Ben Bayly.

“She’s bitten off more than she can chew today,” agreed Simon.

“If her work bench is any indication, it’s all going to be a bloody mess,” chimed in Josh.

Plating up for tasting, Vanessa admitted that it had been touch and go

“I was pretty stressed out there,” she said. “Ninety minutes seems like a long time, but when you’ve got to get so many components together it’s not!

“But I’m really happy with the plate. Hopefully the flavours will shine through and the judges will appreciate the effort I’ve put in.”

To her delight, the judges were quick to notice.

“You’ve done a great job presentation-wise, and I think you’ve really shown that you can work for 90 minutes full on!” Simon told her.

“I like it – it’s clean and tidy,” said Ben.

“To be honest I was convinced your smoked duck would be over-cooked,” Simon continued.

“And I couldn’t be more wrong, because I can tell by looking at the duck breast that it’s not. I hope I am as wrong about the leg, because it will probably be the difference between staying and going.”

Cutting into the meat, the praise continued.

“There are some beautiful elements in here,” said Josh. “The duck breast slices beautifully, the smoked aubergine underneath is outstanding and the dumpling has great flavours.”

“For me, the star is the duck breast,” said Ray. “I love the smokiness!”

“I like the dumpling,” said Ben.” "It was yum!"

“But the duck leg is another story. It is not properly cooked.

“It is still pink inside; essentially it has blood next to the bone. I am not even going to bother trying it.”

“It’s typical Vanessa,” said Simon. “She’s gone all out and done three things, but in this competition we need everything to be 100 per cent, and when you’re making three things you’re tripling your trouble!

“That leg – it’s crucified her in a heartbeat.”

Summoned for elimination, the judges broke the bad news.

“Before you left the tasting, Simon said that it would all come down to the cooking of the duck leg,” Josh told her.

“Unfortunately Ben wouldn’t even try it. There was blood on the bone and that was where your MasterChef journey ended.”

Vanessa burst into tears.

“I tried really hard in the challenge,” she sobbed.

"I did what I considered my best but I made a mistake."

“Vanessa, you have been a very strong competitor and you should be very proud of your achievement,” Ray said.

“We won’t forget your dumplings in the biggest Mystery Box ever, nor your Last Supper Dessert,” said Simon.

“You did yourself proud! Don’t give up the dream – it doesn’t end here, it just starts!”

A contemplative Vanessa left the MasterChef kitchen.

MasterChef has given me so much understanding of how different people think and feel about food.

"It’s a never ending journey of discovery.”


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