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Kasey and Karena Bird: “We’ll never part ways!”

Our MasterChef winning foodie high-fliers are hungry for adventure back home

In the past year, Kasey and Karena Bird have spent less than four weeks in their small Bay of Plenty hometown of Maketu. Leaving their partners and families behind, the foodie sisters have visited 17 countries, worked long hours for free at high-end restaurants, made a television series and written another cookbook.

So it’s no wonder the girls are counting down to summer, where they have blocked out three whole weeks for a holiday and have firm plans to do “absolutely nothing”.

Karena jokes, “I’m going to put a towel down on my lawn and lie on it. I’ll go across the road for swims, then straight back to my towel. That’ll be me for three weeks!”

Watch: Kasey and Karena take the Woman’s Day Quick Fire Questions challenge. Story continues below

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Since winning MasterChef in 2014, the girls have become Kiwi food icons. Hot on the heels of their TV show Karena and Kasey’s Kitchen Diplomacy, they’ve just published a second cookbook, Hungry.

“It’s not just about being hungry for food,” explains Karena. “It’s about being hungry for everything – experience, knowledge …

“It’s recipes from our journey through the past 18 months, with food from all around New Zealand and the world. It’s a real walk down memory lane for us.”

They’re hopeful their self-published cookbook will be as popular as the first, For the Love of …, which recently took out the prize for best TV cookbook at the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in China, beating UK celebrity chef Rick Stein in the process.

“It was surreal,” tells Kasey. “We got back to our hotel room after the ceremony and burst into hysterical laughter and tears. It felt like winning MasterChef all over again. It was huge.”

Virtually joined at the hip, the girls insist they’ll never go their separate ways.

It’s rare that they argue and they’ve honed their roles over the years – Kasey, 26, is in charge of logistics, while Karena, 28, takes the reins on the creative side. “I honestly can’t imagine doing this without Kasey,” says Karena. “I’d have a breakdown – she keeps me grounded.”

And luckily, their Maketu-based partners are tolerant of the girls’ jet-set lifestyle. Kasey has been with Patuara for eight years, and Karena and her beau Horace are set to celebrate their 10-year anniversary soon. “Once we sign up for something, we’re in for the long haul,” laughs Karena about their long-term relationships.

Kasey and Patuara keep in touch with lots of Snapchat messages during their times apart, while Karena admits she’s more relaxed about going without contact for days. “I probably talk to Dad more when I’m away!” she laughs. “I just make sure that we have really good-quality time together when we are at home. It’s all good.”

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