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Simon & Brenton – The Master And The Apprentice: Cream of the Crop

While some contestants are rising to the challenge, others are falling

The MasterChef house is down to its final 10 and the pressure is really starting to get to some of the contestants. Stress and nerves mean some great dish concepts have turned into abject failures, and Vanessa Baxter’s tearful breakdown last week, when she tried to make five dishes and failed, left her in pieces.

“There’s huge pressure in the house – it’s incredibly intense,” says Brenton. “What challenge will come next? How long will I be here? How can I increase my survival rate? All these questions are always going through your mind.

“At the beginning, that feeling of constant stress is more exciting than fearful, but it changes when you start to realise the challenges are getting harder. “It’s not something you can get used to either – the longer you’re there, the harder it gets. I really felt for Vanessa. Not least because as soon as she started crying, all the cameras went on her, which just makes it worse!”

“Vanessa took on too much,” agrees Simon. “Showing off what you can do is what it’s all about, but when she realised halfway through it wasn’t going to work, she should have changed her game plan. “At this stage, things are difficult enough, but she made her two hours in the kitchen far harder than it needed to be.

“That being said, she took a risk and it worked – there aren’t many contestants playing it safe in this year’s competition!” At the moment, it seems inconceivable that anyone except Aaron will win. But things can change very quickly,” warns Brenton.

“Aaron [Brunet] reminds me of Charlene [McGechan], who came fifth last year,” he says. “Everything she did was perfect – she was always on to it. Every dish came out really well. But one bad dish and that was it. “It’s a tough place to be at the top – everyone gets used to you being there, but at the same time, everyone’s just waiting for you to screw up.”

“Aaron’s practised, he’s researched and he’s very, very clever, but never forget it only takes one bad challenge and he’s out,” agrees Simon. “ There are some people I’m still on the fence about – Sushil Ravikumar’s in the competition because he hasn’t cooked the worst dish on the day.” Could he win? “He certainly has the desire,” Simon says, cryptically. “For now, I’d like to see him get out of the bottom four. Then, who knows…”

MasterChef New Zealand screens TV One, Sunday, 7.30pm

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