Meet the final nine contestants vying for a spot in MasterChef NZ

With groups one and two already announced for the 2022 season of MasterChef NZ, get to know the last batch of cooking contestants set to face off in the Queenstown kitchen

MasterChef NZ premieres 8.30pm Sunday 29 May on Three.

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Meet the final nine contestants vying for a spot in MasterChef NZ

Vicky – 41, Auckland

High school English teacher Vicky Tristram was forced to apply by her husband. "He's my number-one appreciative eater!" she jokes, adding she has a knack for "rustling up something from nothing" in the kitchen. Vicky says that'll be her greatest advantage, as well as her "base knowledge of native ingredients from Aotearoa". Her signature dish is "fresh fish cooked by me, crumbed and fried, then served with homegrown potatoes and a salad of foraged ingredients".

Winston – 48, Queenstown

Originally from South Africa, general manager Winston David Kroukamp thinks his "adventurous cooking style" is his greatest
asset in the kitchen. His biggest challenge will be "getting things done in a timely manner and not freaking out"! Winston's signature dish is grilled crayfish tail with a red pepper reduction and lime-avocado purée. His foodie dream is to own a farm with a cellar "so I can cure my own prosciutto, biltong, other cured meats and cheeses".

Rik – 46, Dunedin

Otago plumber Rik Moss enjoys cooking with game meats and sustainable produce, and his signature dish is venison served with wild thyme, porcini mushrooms, honey-glazed carrots, and a cauli and blue cheese purée. His biggest weakness? "I'm not a big desserts or sweets person. I don't cook them." Rik's dream is to own some land, where he can grow veges, raise livestock and operate a "farm-to-fork restaurant where people can see how the produce is grown".

Feline – 44, Otago

Her day job may be teaching, but Felina Kee lives and breathes food – if she's not cooking, she's thinking about it! The educator describes her culinary style as "an eclectic fusion that highlights different cultures and cuisines", and she believes her extreme passion and years of experience in the kitchen will help her come out on top in this seventh season of MasterChef. Felina's dream is to share her easy-to-follow recipes with fellow home cooks through her own TV show.

Annie – 24, Ashburton

Product development technologist Annie McDonald says her food science degree will be her strength. "The knowledge I've gained about food right down to a molecular level definitely influences how I cook and what I cook with," the Al Brown fan says, adding her signature dish is a twist on Egyptian koshari, "a street food consisting of spicy rice, a mung-bean base and lots of delicious condiments". Alice's dream is "to create the next New Zealand pantry staple, like tomato sauce or Weet-Bix".

Jason – 43, Hamilton

When COVID led to a dry spell at work, theatre manager Jason Wade decided to apply for MasterChef. "At the very least, I thought I might get a few days in Queenstown!" he laughs, adding he makes a great macaroni cheese. Having recently lost 50kg with a gastric bypass, Jason says his dream job would be promoting New Zealand's food internationally. "Maybe I'd run food tours to Aotearoa's best restaurants or be an overseas ambassador showcasing what we have to offer."

Jose – 34, Auckland

Haemodialysis nurse Jose Antonio Villamil reckons MasterChef is "the dream platform to show my love and passion for food". The Nadia Lim fan thinks his knowledge of pastries and Asian desserts will set him apart, although he struggles to cook with fish and veges. "They're very delicate ingredients – easy to make, but easy to break!" Jose's goal is to open a dessert shop "that will be passed on for generations just like my love for food started from my family in the Philippines".

Elliot – 27, Auckland

Born in Leicestershire, Elliot Andrew McClymont is the co-founder of spirits company Blush Gin and says his wife Sam is his biggest supporter. "Sam pushed me to sign up for MasterChef – she even filled in the forms for me! She's also brutally honest about my dishes." Elliot's signature dish is a Sri Lankan prawn curry, and his culinary goal is to "encourage people to get into the kitchen and have fun with it through my cooking videos". He adds, "I'd also love to own a wine bar."

Ali – 51, Hamilton

Encouraged to apply for MasterChef by his daughter Liba, childcare business owner Ali Shabbir reckons his worldly experience will be hard to beat – he's eaten pasta in Italy, street curry in Thailand, traditional seafood dishes in a Balinese fishing village, baklava in a Turkish bakery and biryani in Pakistan. When Ali isn't getting inspiration from Gordan Ramsay, he's replicating meals from his favourite restaurants, saying his talented tastebuds help him "pinpoint different flavour profiles".

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