Amanda Brunker is a journalist, author and was crowned Miss Ireland when she was just 17 years old. She recently became a judge on the panel of RTÉ's "The All Ireland Talent Show." Amanda wrote her first novel Champagne Kisses in 2008, which became number one bestseller, followed by Champagne Babes in 2009 and Champagne Secrets this year. She writes for The Sunday World newspaper.
Amanda is a very keen cook and has fond memories of her last visit to "The Restaurant" in 2006. "Oh it was just relief, when I opened that card and I saw five stars, I thought, "Yes!" It really is a hard day, I don't think people watching it on TV realize how much work actually goes on and there's a great camaraderie there, everybody just wants to do well."
Amanda was thrilled to get her 5 star rating and enjoyed seeing how people reacted to finding out how good a cook she really was. "I think an awful lot of people were very shocked that I got five stars. I think people have this misconception that I'm this kind of party girl and that I'm out all the time, eating out. To be honest, I very rarely eat out anymore, I just don't have the time. I've got kids, I have to be cooking for them."
Amanda takes on fellow journalist Fintan O'Toole in the cook off and is looking forward to getting back in the kitchen. "I'm looking forward to it, I must admit, but I've never been afraid of hard work. I need to be on my A-game, I want to win. I'm really going to have to work hard. Fintan O'Toole, bring it on!"
On her Scallop starter Amanda, has combined some of her favourite ingredients, but is nervous that she and Dave get the timing right at service. "I love scallops, I love bacon, I love chestnuts, this is just a combination of a load of ingredients that I really enjoy. The one thing that I cannot allow to happen is Dave messing up my starters. You know, I love the guy, but he needs to be on his A Game today."
It's all about timing when it comes to Amanda's main course. "Timing is always really, really tight. I'm just hoping that I do have enough time to make sure that the beef is really melt in the mouth."
Amanda thinks her dessert will be the star tonight but is a little nervous that all the elements come together. "There are many things that can go wrong with this. Will my ice cream be frozen enough, will my rhubarb be broken down enough and taste sweet? But I'm focusing on the positives. This is all going to work out."