We had no clue when we first interviewed former Howick local and MKR NZ contestant Vikki Gordon-Tibbits (issue dated Nov 8) that both she and her partner Pascal would be declared the ultimate champions of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand 2023. A quick follow-up with the winning couple who cooked up an exquisite feast for NZ’s top chefs and bagged a cool $100,000 in the grand finale of TVNZ’s MKR NZ.
Did you know you were the winners of MKR NZ when we did the Q & A with you?
The night of the grand finale, all the contestants, our grand final opponents Matt & Kurt, with their friends and family and ours all celebrated watching the episode together at the Bird cage in Auckland. We were all watching it together to hear the results. As they originally filmed two endings to the episode, we had to wait until the show was aired to find out who won! It was wonderful to have all our friends, family and contestants celebrating together.
Has reality sunk in? How did you celebrate the big win?
It’s still sinking in really, with the busy Xmas season upon us, we are winding up work for the year and children’s activities etc. I think it will resonate once we have a break over the Xmas/new year, spending time with the children, friends, and family.
How do you plan to spend the prize money of $100,000? Does it feel like winning a lotto ticket?
It’s better than winning lotto because you know you have put in a lot of work to get to the finals, and we poured our souls into the grand final dishes. Looking back on what we have plated up, we wouldn’t have changed much as we were very pleased with what we produced for the guest judges considering we are home cooks. It was an absolute honour to cook in Sid’s kitchen at The French Café – it’s big and spacious with epic appliances and a large viewing window out to the diners. Never would I have dreamt we would have the chance to cook there, but it’s a memory that will last a lifetime.
What’s the next big challenge you look forward to?
We have a few ideas we are working on, the prize money is helping with that. I have one product in R&D currently, hope to release that soon if we get good feedback and another we are researching now. Ideally, long term we’d love to host dinner parties and events at our farm, using home grown produce and cooked fresh for people, in our home kitchen. We have got a bit of work to be done on the farm and hope to spend time over the Xmas holidays on it. Also, we can’t leave our design backgrounds and would be keen to incorporate our passion for food and design together – i.e. hospitality design, so the setting and the food are very close companions.
Another thing that’s keeping us busy right now is we’re currently mid rehearsals for the Summer Shakespeare Tauranga production of The Tempest which Pascal is directing and I’m producing. It’s being held at the Te Puna Quarry in Tauranga from the February 8-17, 2024.
Did the pressure ever get to you? Both Pascal and you seemed very calm in the final cook off.
Pascal and I just genuinely love cooking – it wasn’t stressful for us as we love to prepare and present – we tackled it in a way that we do for our design work. With having a clear plan and keeping to what we know and love best, it was key. We put together flavours and products that we adore and would want to order if we went to a restaurant, but with our own twist. Were so pleased we stuck to what we love, stayed true to ourselves and gave it 110 per cent.
We are also super proud of Matt and Kurt and honoured to have competed against these gents in the grand finale. I’m sure we will be talking about their bisque for many years!
What’s your best MKR moment?
It’s hard to pick just one, as we thoroughly enjoyed all of it, from cooking in various kitchens, hosting the amazing judges and contestants at home – and cooking for such esteemed guest judges in the finale, we enjoyed the challenges and would be up to doing it all over again! Pascal is more than my ‘sous’ chef – he’s a very talented man and so pleased to share this journey together for our future. Also, another funny moment was Colin stealing my martini when we were in our kitchen at our instant restaurant.
Read more: Stepping up to the plate on MKR