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‘Masterchef’ Finale Contestants Natasha Crjnac and Luca Manfe Look Back on The Season

Masterchef Finalists

Natasha Crnjac and Luca Manfe, the Masterchef finale contestants, discuss what it was like competing on a cooking show, learning from Gordon Ramsay, and how it feels to make it to the final two.

Q: You guys just had a lot of really challenging things this season. So, what was the one ingredient or activity that was the most terrifying for you guys?

Crnjac: I would say personally on my end would be the mystery box where we had all of the ingredients from all the foreign nations. It was definitely a hard challenge because I’m pretty sure most of us didn’t know everything that was under the box and it really was a challenge to put our creative balances and put everything on the plate and make it a good dish.

Manfe: For me, it was for sure the crab elimination salad. I still have nightmares about that challenge. I never had worked with a live crab before and I didn’t really know how to start, and then, plus I messed it up.
Q: So, Natasha and Luca, I’m wondering with regard to the final challenge, was it as difficult as you expected it to be or was it more difficult?

Crnjac: I definitely say it was a lot of pressure. It’s very hard. We all equally fought really hard to make it as far as we did and just being in that finale and being against a strong competitor as Luca, it’s definitely really hard. You put everything into it and it’s a very emotional experience and it’s just something that you kind of have to be there in the moment and it just takes complete control out of everything you’re doing.

Manfe: We really worked very hard. I think the reason why we both made it to the finale is because we were the ones who really like with more anger to win. The finale itself absolutely was probably the toughest because there was so much at stake and the emotions were doing a big, big part on it because you know that that was the last chance that you had to go for the title.

Q: What was the experience like of going through this rigorous process, like you guys said, 12 to 14 hour days and then having to just dive back into real life and having to dive back into doing your everyday things?

Manfe: Well, I would say at the beginning, the atmosphere on set was very nerve-wracking for me. Getting used to all those cameras, it took really a few weeks, but then I got kind of on a comfortable mode because I know almost every time what was going on. If it was a mystery box, you start learning how everything works.

Crnjac: Yes, kind of the same way. You adapt to a certain way and adapting to being on MasterChef and having glorious ingredients that we got to work with, we really were spoiled, and it’s hard going from that and being in that competitive nature and that surviving ambition to want to win each mystery box or pressure test and all of that. It’s hard to go back to real life. So, it’s funny because I think that all the contestants are like what’s it like to be back in the real world, this and that, but realistically, it’s like we miss being in the MasterChef kitchen, just being in that atmosphere. It’s no doubt a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Q: You both do have very strong personalities and I’m wondering how you feel about the way that translated into how you looked on television?

Crnjac: The social media, it is what it is. I am who I am and I was who I was on the show. I don’t think that I was perceived badly. I feel like I was very true to who I was and I believe that just being me has got me as far as I did and I wouldn’t have changed it for a thing.

Manfe: I think I liked the way I come up on the show. I think sometimes I say some stupid things and then make myself laugh as well. As far as social media, Natasha is right, you’re going to have always some kind of people and you cannot make everybody happy. You can’t expect that everybody likes you. I think I’m very happy with what the show shows and even I think that they show that Natasha is a great, great competitor and she’s a great person as well.

Q: What was the most important lesson you learned from the judges this season?

Manfe: Most important lesson was, Gordon Ramsay says it all the time, and less is more and not going to double guess yourself all the time but just trust your instinct. Less is more for the finale, for me, was a great, great lesson because sometimes you try to do so many things in a dish and put everything together and in the end you understand that maybe you put three things more on the dish that isn’t needed, where if you do it simple and respect the flavors, you would have done much better.

Crnjac: For me would be in the team challenges that we did, the judges were always there locally encouraging us and helping us and telling us you can do it, and when you do mess up, as we do, nothing always goes perfectly in the kitchen, you need to be able to make sure that you pull all that together and you work as a team.

Shortly after this interview, Luca Manfe was announced the winner of season 4. Congrats Luca!

Photo Courtesy of: Greg Gayne / FOX. © Copyright 2013 FOX BROADCASTING.

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Monica Gleberman began writing in 2000. She has been published on CNN and in the Suffolk Times, Examiner, The Daily Collegian, Demand Studios, Patch, and The Tattoo.

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