When he won the first season of MasterChef, Brett McGregor had to prepare food for some harsh judges.
But with wife Tracey, who has anosmia (a condition which causes the inability to perceive odour), and son Jack, who has a very fussy palate, Brett’s toughest critics are at home – but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I know, I’m winning all round with these two,” he says, patting 10-year-old Jack on the shoulder.
“He’s pretty quick to tell me if he doesn’t like something. He’s getting fussier as he gets older and Tracey lost her sense of smell a few years ago – we don’t really know why.”
“Brett will make amazing concoctions that I’m sure smell delicious. He’ll forget and say to me, ‘Smell that!’” adds Tracey, his wife of nine years.
“And I don’t like tomatoes,” chips in Jack, wrinkling his nose. “They’re yuck!”
“I don’t know what I’d do without these two,” Brett says with a laugh.
Since winning MasterChef in 2010, Brett’s life has changed drastically. Following the release of his first cookbook in 2011, Tastes of a Traveller, he gave up his career as the deputy principal of Branston Intermediate in Christchurch to focus on food full time, winging his way around the country for demonstrations and fronting Countdown’s Feed a Family for $15 campaign.
Despite his sometimes difficult audience at home, it was in his own kitchen that Brett created and tested all of the recipes for his newest book, A Taste of Home – which focuses on family favourites that are simple, tasty and affordable.
Without Jack and Tracey, says Brett, there wouldn’t be a book.
“Everything is a reflection of the family,” he explains. “They went through just as much as I did writing it. And it really made me realise how important they are to me. This is who I am. My life is these guys!”
The tight-knit clan, which also includes cats Tiki and Tane and dog Mickey, made the difficult decision to move from earthquake-ravaged Christchurch to settle in West Auckland two years ago, after their property sustained more than $10,000 in damage.
“I’m a staunch Cantabrian, so leaving was very hard,” adds Tracey. “But we’ve actually done so much more together since we’ve been in Auckland.”
And while Brett’s living his dream, working as a full-time foodie, the best part of his new life is that it’s brought the three of them even closer.
“We got to spend so much time testing things out and experimenting,” he says.
“There have definitely been a few recipes that have turned out to be disasters!”
“Uh-huh,” agrees Jack, nodding his head.
But despite his success in the wake of MasterChef, Brett’s adamant he hasn’t changed as a person – in fact, the only big difference is that he can’t just pop into the supermarket any more.
“People are awesome,” he says with a grin. “They’ll come up and ask questions and want advice, which is cool. A lot of the time they’ll just want to look in my trolley, so when I’m caught with a lot of bad things in there, I get a few funny looks!”
“He’s less stressed though,” Tracey adds. “And I keep him grounded, don’t worry!”
A Taste of Home by Brett McGregor (RRP $45). To be in to win one of 10 signed copies of the book click here.
Photos: Caren Davis • Hair, make-up & Styling: Luisa Petch • Brett wears hallensteins shirts and fifth ave menswear pants. Tracey wears louche top, loobies story jeans, diva necklace. Jack wears hallensteins
About Kelly Bertrand
“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”more of this author