About Series 5

MasterChef New Zealand Judges

Instead of individuals, the competition is now open to pairs of amateur cooks: couples, family members, flatmates or friends who believe they've got what it takes to cook their way to the MasterChef New Zealand title.

There's a wide variety of duos ranging in age from 19 to 65 and with vocations varying from student, shop assistant and beauty queen to air traffic controller, accountant and doctor, but they all share the same dream: to make it big in the culinary world.

At stake is the MasterChef New Zealand title and over $100,000 worth of prizes, including an exclusive MasterChef cookbook deal.

But standing in their way are three of the toughest judges in the culinary world - Michelin-star-winning international chef Josh Emett, Auckland culinary icon Simon Gault and top food writer Ray McVinnie.

Each duo has one hour to prepare and present two signature dishes, a main course and a dessert, in the hope of impressing the judges with their skill, knowledge and passion, and Josh, Simon and Ray are expecting an even better standard of cooking from the duos than they did from individual contestants.

They aren't disappointed, as they taste a range of cuisines from around the world, from Europe to South-East Asia to South America, and from much closer to home, even a classic pork and puha boil-up.

"This to me is what MasterChef is about," says Simon after tasting a Bay of Plenty duo's paua ravioli and salted caramel fondant. "Two people from a provincial town who cook like rock stars."

This time, the competition is fiercer than ever, so prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions, from despair to triumph, sorrow to joy - and at the end of it all stand the Top 15 duos, ready to embark on the toughest competition of their lives.