Hangi buries Huber's hopes

SEE YOU SUSANNE: The Viennese foodie says NZ didn't get to see what she's capable of.
SEE YOU SUSANNE: The Viennese foodie says NZ didn't get to see what she's capable of.

She really wanted to stick with the contest, but Susanne Huber's glue-like stuffing was her undoing on Masterchef last night.

The Auckland hospitality consultant was dumped for her part in producing "stringy pork, undercooked koura and stuffing like glue" in the reality cooking show's hangi challenge.

Episode three saw the 16 contestants despatched to Mokoia Island, in the middle of Lake Rotorua, where they were split into teams of four and asked to produce gourmet hangi food in just over four hours. Chef Rex Morgan, who spent time on the island as a youngster, joined the judges as they  watched the groups begin to steam up with nerves.

"Don't look so worried, " Josh Emett told them. "Everything's going to be ka pai."Watching a hangi cook is usually about as thrilling as watching paint dry, but it was surprisingly entertaining watching the teams struggle to get their fires burning and food prepped. "I'm going to shame all Maori," wailed excitable drama student Dana Leaming.

In the end it was Huber and her fellow red team members, Kris Williams, Sushil Ravikumar and Ella Krauts, who had to hang their heads.

The judges were less than complimentary about their hangi chicken, pork roulade, garlic-rubbed lamb and Huber's Austrian-inspired invention, horopito-flavoured stuffing wrapped in silverbeet.

"It's bloody awful," Simon Gault said. "I think it's shocking," Emett added. "They should have never have taken it out of the ground."

Huber, who hails from Vienna but has been living in Auckland for three years, had never tasted hangi food before, much less cooked it. She said she was still uncertain as to why her team did so badly.

"As a group we thought we worked well together, maybe we were too well-organised and perhaps we should have made another dish. Maybe our food wasn't that exciting."

Huber, 48, said she was disappointed - "I didn't enter the competition to be the first to be kicked out" - especially after her kitchen skills saw her win the first challenge in episode two.

"I didn't get a chance to show the judges what I am capable of."

The former Alexandra Park staff and functions coordinator now plans to offer Austrian cooking classes through her new website, and is involved in other projects with fellow Masterchef contestants.

While the red team were united in defeat, there were murmurings of discontent in their more successful counterparts. Interior designer Kelly Kaihua - remember how I said she had the look of a Masterchef winner about her? - showed her colours by claiming credit for the red team's elegantly presented plate of koura, much to the chagrin of Wellington sports coordinator Elliott Brookes. He didn't think much of her team spirit, though this seemed to evaporate once they were safe from elimination.

Perhaps Brookes would have been better off with barman David Jamieson, who claimed to be such a team player that he thought his blue team should get the boot if the judges didn't like their work. Dissent was clear - you could see Vanessa Baxter, Paula Saengthian-ngam and Serena Edwards biting their lips together to stop themselves from shouting 'I want to stay' but they played along.  It remains to be seen how long they can keep a lid on their simmering ambitions.