Aussie chef says New Zealand lamb is best

MKR guest judge Liz Egan.

MKR guest judge Liz Egan.

New Zealand has proved it has the rugby chops to beat Australia, thanks to the All Blacks win in the Rugby World Cup final, but do we also have the superior lamb chops? 

Chef, restaurateur and My Kitchen Rules Australia guest judge Liz Egan thinks we may have what it takes. Just don't tell the Aussies she said so. "I've been really looking forward to beautiful fish and really good lamb," the Australian chef says of her trip to New Zealand to join the guest judging panel of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand.  I mean we have good lamb in Australia, but I think your lamb is just a little bit better. Is this (story) going to Australia?" she laughs.

This year Egan replaces Sean Connolly on the kitchen headquarters judging panel, sitting alongside Nadia Lim, Robert Oliver and Grace Ramirez. It may be her first time on the Kiwi version of the reality cooking show, but her six years on the Australian show mean Egan knows exactly what the wannabe chefs need to do to win. "They need to listen to the four of us when we tell them, one, what we're looking for and, two, when we give critiques," she says. "I still don't think they listen enough. That's, I guess, the main thing. They're not listening enough and not paying enough attention."

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Joining the New Zealand reality series meant a temporary shift of location for the Australian chef, who grew up on a vineyard in the Yarra Valley and now lives in Melbourne. Egan says she was happy to make the trip, especially since she would be able to try some characteristically Kiwi food. "I had heard a lot about pikopiko so I really wanted to try that and a couple of your fish that we don't have in Australia," she says. "I'm interested to try some cheeses. I'm always keen to eat the local cheese because I'm a bit of a cheese-mad woman."

Egan's passion for cheese might explain her self-confessed food guilty pleasure, which is certainly no fine-dining creation. "Cheese Twisties, I love them and do you know my favourite way to have them?' she says. "I'm mad for tinned tuna, I have it every day in salads. But on the beach it's rolls because you make them in the morning then you walk to a secluded beach, and you're not going to eat it for a while. I make a tuna, red onion and mayo roll and just take a packet of Twisties with me. Then just before I eat my roll, I stuff it full of Twisties. It's so good. It's not exactly healthy eating, but I don't do it every day."

It may be only a three-and-a-half-hour plane ride from Melbourne to Auckland, but Egan admits this is the first time she has made the trip across the Tasman. When TV Guide speaks to her, Egan is trying to make the most of her time in New Zealand, visiting new restaurants and planning a trip to Waiheke Island, but she had a bit of a false start upon arrival in Auckland. "It didn't even occur to me that I needed different money when I came here," Egan says. "What an idiot. When you're dying for a coffee it's not good and you realise that your Aussie money is just not going to cut it. Wouldn't you think it would occur to me as I was going through customs that I had to change my money? But no."

My Kitchen Rules NZ, TV2, Monday & Tuesday.

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