He’s a familiar face from his roles as evil gang member Kingi Te Waka on Shortland Street and Zave from Go Girls, but viewers are seeing another side to Te Kohe Tuhaka, as a judge on Maori TV’s reality show Marae Kai Masters.
As the competition heats up on the cooking challenge, the actor says his job to critique the contestants is getting harder.
“It’s been difficult for me, getting to know the contestants, to not get sucked into all the drama and emotion of the show,” says Te Kohe.
“I feel bad when I watch someone stuff something up, but I just have to step back and try and be neutral,” he says.
Although his favourite dish is a simple mince on toast, Te Kohe knows his stuff when it comes to food – he worked in a restaurant when he was a drama student in Wellington.
And his personal high point has been watching contestants learn new things each week, as they compete to win cooking equipment for their marae.
“There was one who didn’t know what aïoli was when they stepped on the set. I think that’s what makes us different to other reality shows – we’re much more down-to-earth and people learn new skills while competing,” says Te Kohe.
“Contestants say the funniest things – and the excuses they come up with when things go wrong are hilarious.”
Although he’s now mastered a judging poker face, Te Kohe says he would crumble if his own marae in Gisborne were competing in the contest.
“My auntie is a good cook. Luckily, I don’t have to criticise what she does in the kitchen, as she would never let me live it down,” he jokes.