For 25 years, Serena Edwards’ dreams of being a chef were on hold. With two sons to raise and a mortgage to pay, the idea of the solo mum pursuing her own ambitions was absurd.
But after three years of urging from her now-adult sons, Fredrick (25) and Jarreau (23, MasterChef contestant Serena (49) has finally put herself first – and she admits it’s given her a whole new outlook.
“Entering MasterChef was a big step for me,” says the South Auckland social worker, who quit her job to take part in the top-rating show. “But I wouldn’t do it again. It’s not what I went here for. I had the wrong conception of what it was.”
So far, Serena hasn’t had a chance to show off her true passion – Pacific cuisine. However, the cooking show is giving Serena the opportunity finally to think about what she wants out of life now her sons are grown-up.
With her 50th birthday approaching, trips overseas and a new business venture with another MasterChef contestant planned, another chapter of Serena’s life has begun.
“I’m glad I entered,” she says. “I know I can do it now. I’m not going to sit there and wonder what if?”
Even the experience of getting her hair and makeup done is new – “I feel like a Kardashian,” she laughs as she sees her made-up self in the mirror.
Being taken care of is a new feeling for Serena – as a social worker and mum, it’s usually her making everyone else feel better. But, she says, life is short.
“My family is my motivation, and I did it for them,” she says, with tears rolling down her cheeks. “I swear, I don’t usually cry, but thinking about them makes me get emotional.
“Leaving the boys for such a long time was hard. I had to quit my job to come on the show, so they had to pay the mortgage and all the bills. For them to take on so much, it was really humbling. It made me so proud of them.”
And regardless of the show’s outcome, she’ll keep cooking with as much coconut cream as she can get her hands on. “So far, this has been one slice of life. And I can’t wait to see what the next slice is.”
MasterChef screens on TV One, Sundays at 7.30pm