This was the first time I had been to Hawaii, a destination which had always seemed so remote from London, my hometown. It was surprising how much their culture was influenced by their neighbors, the Maoris and Fijians. Some of the Hawaiian men bore similar tribal tattoos to the Maori’s, painting one side of their faces and upper bodies with elegant and culturally symbolic artwork. Their costumes were bright and full of floral patterns – (stereotypical Hawaiian shirts don’t have their vibrant and bold reputation for nothing), which to me showed a real acknowledgement for the luscious nature that surrounds them.
I felt dwarfed and almost intimidated amongst the Hawaiian physical build, as the people we met were generally broad, stocky and strong, but the warm infectious and seemingly permanent smiles of the women soon dispelled any initial sense of caution. They all had gentle relaxed natures and seemed welcoming, just like their traditional music. Again, this was a culture very influenced by the sea – the head of the community took particular pride in his seafaring achievements and abilities, which were highly impressive.
Find out how to choose the right Hawaiian island for your trip over at BBC Travel!
The chefs arrival by helicopter was one of the most thrilling moments of filming this episode. As the chefs hovered towards the ‘make-do’ helipad (i.e. a patch of grass on a cliff edge), three wild horses wandered in! The horses were so shocked by the chopper that they gallivanted off in a panic. The crew and I, on the ground, stood amongst all this commotion not quite sure what to do. The helicopter carrying the chefs had to take a sharp u-turn up into the skies again.
We were shooting this episode during whaling season, from the dramatic coastal sheer drops we were able to see schools of whales gathering out at sea, it was magnificent and humbling.
Michael got to do what he does best, which was hunt a large animal. It was heart-warming to hear his childhood stories of goats he had hunted with his father. The pig he captured and prepared was cooked to perfection in the end, although the process was really challenging for him because of an ambitious number of dishes, lack of time and preparing the pork in a ground oven. He rightfully deserved to win.
Kayne had a magical experience of spearfishing with his amazing guide, whose skills and talent for spearfishing were an true inspiration to us all. Madison also connected with his guide. The hunt seemed very spiritual for all three chefs, so before the cooking competition kicked off, they all returned to me completely ‘Zen’d out – it was beautiful to observe this in them – clearly this represented a divine place for us all.
Check out these top ten Hawaiian vistas!