You could only watch and cry at the Masterchef NZ winner grand finale Sunday night as Jax’s dessert tower came a tumblin`, a tumblin`, a tumblin` down….
After 18 challenges and 56 hours of cooking Jax Hamilton’s MasterChef dream was left in tatters Sunday night thanks to a macaroon tower and some butter icing.
Hamilton, 45, of Christchurch, watched in disbelief as an avalanche of macaroons slid off her dessert tower at the end of the final cooking challenge, ending her hopes of winning the competition.
Instead 25-year-old Aucklander Nadia Lim was named the winner of MasterChef NZ after last night’s season finale, involving four challenges shot over two days.
Lim said the win still hadn’t sunk in yet, not least because she had been unable to share the news with anyone.
Sunday night she watched the show and celebrated her win with about 80 family and friends in Auckland.
Lim and Hamilton faced a taste test, an invention test, a pressure test and the final “macaron flower frenzy tower”.
With a name like that it was always going to end badly for someone.
By the end of the third challenge Lim, who led in the judges points all the way, was ahead by six, although Hamilton had managed to close the gap thanks to Lim’s bad pressure test round.
Masterchef NZ winner Lim said the hardest part of the four challenges was that pressure test of cooking Beef Wellington.
“Pressure has never been my biggest strength, I think I was about 3 minutes behind and that made me rush. The recipe was down to the finest timeline, it needed 30 minutes to cook and I only had 27 left and I thought “crap, I’m not going to get it medium-rare”.Lim also admits the dessert challenge was terrifying.
“It was the last thing I wanted. Dessert. Tower. Macaroons.” Just hearing the instructions on how to make the macaroon tower, reduced Lim to tears, though she is no stranger to crying, having cried through every episode at one stage or another.
Lim calls her bouts of crying “really annoying”.
“I wish I could have stopped them but I couldn’t “You’re wearing your heart on your sleeve and it’s so personal.
“All of my friends who have watched say it’s like watching a different person, they’ve seen me cry more often on TV than they have in person.” However she said she went into the final in a good headspace, after making a pact with herself the evening before.
“I wasn’t going to care which way it went, that Jax and me had fun that the most important thing. “I think that really put my nerves at ease, I was happy with whichever way it was going to go.” After the third challenge when she was six points ahead, Lim still thought she could lose it.
“I still thought I had a good chance but I wasn’t thinking I was definitely going to win it.
“Near the end when we were both finishing the towers I was just ecstatic when it finished, I was counting down with everyone else.
“I wasn’t thinking at that point that I had won.
Lim now has a busy few weeks ahead, with cooking demonstrations, writing her cookbook and next month she will start working part-time in Simon Gualt’s Auckland restaurant.
Lim said if she’d have known what was involved she would have thought long and hard about entering MasterChef New Zealand.
“But I felt like I had to, it was kind of a no-brainer because I love food so much.
“It was such a huge risk to go on TV, and muck up, it could have ruined my entire food career.”
Runner-up Jax Hamilton sais she was “devastated and relieved all at the same time”.
Lim described watching Hamilton’s macaroon tower fall apart like a “nightmare in slow motion” and Hamilton said when she saw what had happened she thought it was a joke.
“I’d finished my tower then turned to Nadia, then I saw the faces of some of the other contestants.
“I was devastated, devastated, absolutely crushed.
“I still am devastated.”
Hamilton said while she may have not won the prize she believes she won the competition.
“To go through all of that and achieve as much as I did, to turn around now after all that hard work would be a crime.
“I’m going to go out there … food is my world and I want to educate myself and the Kiwi masses.” Unlike Lim, Hamilton said she has no firm plans lined up.
“I’m just waiting to see what the fall out is going to be and how people have come to terms with my character and who I am.
“I’d like to be the next Nigella, I’d like people to be delving into their fridges at midnight and eating huge quantities of food off a big spoon.
“I don’t think there is enough sex in the kitchen, people are really health conscious and they’re worried about obesity but they forget that food is supposed to be enjoyed.” During the second challenge, cooking two pork dishes, Hamilton looked like she had lost the plot.
Hamilton said she picked up a saucepan and “everything just left me, I didn’t even know where to put it down. I just became empty.” She said that was her weakest challenge because she ran out of steam whereas the highlight was her Beef Wellington.
“The final for me was when Josh [Emett] sliced into that Beef Wellington and looked up and me I thought
“That is beautiful, look at that Wellington, that is one sexy dish”.” Hamilton said the stress of the competition had also taken it’s toll.
“I lost 5kgs, three of my dreads had fallen out. Nadia lost weight and she couldn’t afford to lose weight.” Hamilton said what viewers see on television was only a snippet of what goes on and it doesn’t capture the full pressuer of the competition.
“But it’s a build up, each challenge prepares you for the next one. You couldn’t have stepped in there on day one and done the “chocolate tower of terror”, you would have killed yourself.” Hamilton watched tonight’s show with her immediate family, who she said, all thought she had won.
“I was devastated for myself, because I just wanted to win. But there was no resentment towards Nadia that she had gotten it, because I had seen her journey.”