She was one of the favourites to take out the title of MasterChef. So when Ella Krauts, the show’s youngest contestant, was sensationally knocked out of the final five after losing by the smallest of margins, the judges weren’t surprised to receive a barrage of complaints from outraged fans.
“We’re down to a group of very slick competitors. When it comes down to the final two, it’s going to be a tiny difference that means one will be a winner, and one a loser,” says Simon. “Ella has all the qualities of a great chef. She’s calm, precise and dedicated, and has a great palate. But at the devil is in the detail – at the end of the day, her crumble was a tiny bit drier than Vanessa’s, so she went home. If we’d done anything other than send home the worst cook on the day, we’d ruin the integrity of the show.”
“It does seem unfair,” muses Brenton. “Vanessa has been at the bottom for quite a few of the last few challenges, while Ella’s been at the top more than anyone, even Aaron – I’d have been pretty frustrated too if I’d been her. Unfortunately, once you’re gone, that’s it – you have to accept what the judges tell you.”
But all is not over for Ella.
“I saw someone tweet that they bet Ella will end up in one of my restaurants, and I’d happily have her in one of my kitchens,” says Simon.
“I run a pretty tight ship – I certainly don’t tolerate muppets – and I’m hard but fair, I think. I expect a high standard, definitely. What I like is someone with a passion for what they do – someone that can look at a food they’ve never seen before and get fired up about what they can do with it. You have that, you’ll make a good chef.”
“You have to be able to think on your feet and make the most of your time as a chef,” adds Brenton. “You need to be open to learning, be able to take criticism and have the ability to remain focused under stressful situations.
“There’s a lot to learn in a kitchen, but the top group this year all have the potential to win the 2013 MasterChef title.”
‘You have to think on your feet as a chef – and be able to take criticism’
Photos: David White
MasterChef New Zealand screens TV One, Sundays, 7.30pm