Brett McGregor

Never in his wildest dreams did New Zealand's first MasterChef winner Brett McGregor think he would be where he is today. Having just published another cookbook, he talks to Colleen Thorpe about his style of cooking and his roller-coaster ride to fame.

ATaste of Home
By Brett McGregor, Random House, $45

What sort of food do you love to cook?
Anything fresh but, at the moment, Italian is right up there. But summer is coming so lots of Asian-inspired food on the barbecue.

What is your cooking style?
Fast, simple and fun. I like to take the fuss out of food. After all, you don't need to use lots of ingredients to make something delicious.

You regularly appear with your son Jack on Good Morning in support of schools. Tell us a little about this?
This is something that has been amazing for us both. I have tried to keep a foot in the door with my educational background and use my journey as inspiration for any budding foodies out there.
Jack loves to bake, but loves to act even more, so he looks at being on television as practise for when he hits the big screen, but together we have really connected and can create delicious food.
Supporting our schools or, more importantly, our youth, has stemmed from my days as a teacher. We used to ensure all students ate in class, that way we could monitor what they were eating and when. It was an eye-opener after returning from Hong Kong to see our Kiwi kids with a large Coke and a packet of chips for lunch - if they were lucky.
I now have an opportunity to try to help change this attitude towards food in New Zealand. It is not cheap to eat here, but you can still have a healthy lunch on a budget if you know how.

At what age should you start teaching kids to cook?
As soon as they can stand beside you and help out, whether stirring a dressing or simply being in the way. Kids are like sponges, soaking up any knowledge around them. Teach them about veges and meat so they know it is normal to eat them.

And what is the first dish you could start with?
Schnitzel is always a great one ... flour, then egg then breadcrumbs, it's messy and delicious. They do the crumbing, you do the cooking.

It's been an amazing journey for you winning New Zealand's first MasterChef title. What were you doing before this win and where has the win led you?
My journey since entering the show has been amazing. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be where I am today. Just think back four or five years and I had just returned from Hong Kong and was looking for a principal/teacher role back in Christchurch. Education was everything to me, but it is very, very hard work. Long hours and not a lot of people coming in with positive thoughts. I was lucky to be employed by Branston Intermediate in Hornby, Christchurch, as the deputy principal.
It lasted about six months until the final Masterchef show screened and everything changed ... for the better.
Now, living in Auckland, cooking with and for some amazing people, learning new techniques from some of the best chefs here and overseas. I have taken tours to some of the most delicious places on the planet and have ensured my journey will continue by working hard on my new craft.