A. I come from your typical large Latino family. When I lived at home in Venezuela, we would gather every Sunday at my grandparents’ house to eat. There would be more than 50 of us at the table. My family heritage stretches across South America, which was reflected in the food. It’s a fusion of Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. I never realised how lucky I was to have such a varied palate.
A. In the days before Skype, I would call my grandmother for recipe instructions. Instead of quantities, she would say “a dash of this” and “a pinch of that”. I would show her photos of the food I created when I would visit home and she would tell me I got it all wrong.
A. My passion for cooking prompted me to leave my production role at MTV and move to The Food Network. It was there that I realised I wanted to work in front of the camera instead of behind it. I had dabbled in on-screen television work as a child but because I didn’t fit the confident, stunning Ms Venezuela stereotype, I didn’t think it was a realistic career dream.
A. I thought MasterChef would be a great opportunity to move into on-screen television work. It was the first MasterChef in the US and I had no idea it would become the American Idol of cooking. I wanted to become the face of South American food. I consider myself a Latina because of growing up with such a varied group of cultures, and I wanted to accurately portray the food and honour the cultural dishes.
A. I felt very intimidated and nervous. The day I got eliminated I was truly heartbroken. But now I use that experience to help contestants on MKR.
A. Just after I finished culinary school, my partner was offered a great job in New Zealand. I had never been here but heard there was amazing food and wine.
A. The quality of produce and meat in New Zealand is much better. Not to mention the coffee!
A. MKR is amazing; I’m working with people I really admire. Not only that but I get to eat really good food. How lucky am I! Being a contestant was unbelievably stressful and really different to judging. Having experienced being a contestant, I really feel for the teams who get eliminated.
A. I’m tough but fair. I’m not negative for the sake of it but I give constructive criticism. I’m not Mrs Nice but I’m no Gordon Ramsay.
A. Everyone is a favourite! They’ve all worked so hard and we’ve been on this journey together. But it really comes down to the food. People get really passionate about food reality TV because it’s so aspirational, entertaining and easy to digest; it has all the elements. It inspires people to get creative in the kitchen.
A. I work out a lot and I train hard. I’m not the type of girl who can eat whatever she wants. I started CrossFit three months ago and it’s changed my body. I’ve really tightened up! I do it 3-4 times a week plus yoga and sometimes spinning.
A. Being on set can be long and tiring. It’s all in real time, so we’re tasting food for hours and hours. After more than 12 hours of filming, we’re exhausted. We have to hype up the team with coffee and sugar to keep everyone going, but we’re all so happy to be here that it’s worth it.
A. Well, to start with, all the chefs I work with on MKR! I think Al Brown showcases NZ food really well and I respect how he credits people who deserve it. His cooking style is simple but packed with flavour.
A. In the past I’ve worked as a consultant for Mexican restaurants and worked at a cooking school, but MKR has taken up all of my time for now. I write a lot in my down time. My goal is to have my own cookbook of Latin-style recipes.
Makeup by: Claudia Rodrigues
Styling by: Keahi Frances