Durban’s Roxi wows judges

2014-12-13 00:00

MAKING the leap from being an assistant train driver to ­becoming the winner of this season’s MasterChef SA proved to be an eventful trip for Roxi Wardman (26).

And if viewers thought the wait for the announcement of the winner of Season 3 was an excruciating one, spare a thought for the last two contestants standing — the final ­episode was filmed six months ago.

So on Thursday evening, with the big night finally arriving, it was hard to tell who had the most jitters — Wardman or her equally abled opponent Sipho­kazi Mdlankomo (39), a domestic worker from Cape Town.

Then the final score was read out, with glimmering silver confetti raining down, Wardman stepped forward to receive the accolade in front of a small crowd in the Sandton Convention Centre, but with hundreds of thousands of viewers nationwide looking on.

Wardman said afterwards she is absolutely overwhelmed. “It’s like I’m waiting for someone to slap me awake and tell me I’m dreaming. No matter what your background is, nothing can stop you if you put your mind to it.”

Durban’s leopard print-wearing Wardman cooked her way into the hearts of thousands of South Africans as she was crowned champion on Thursday night.

Runner-up Mdlankomo also gave an extraordinary culinary performance as they went toe-to-toe, or should one say dish-for-dish, in a gastronomic three-challenge showdown.

First up was the Invention Test, where both finalists had only 90 minutes to prepare a mouth-watering, restaurant-quality South African dish.

Wardman snuck ahead by a few points after the first round, but the “Dessert Queen” was whipped and battered in the second round by a Dessert ­Mystery Box.

However, in a hair-raising third round which saw the finalists in a “Cook-Off” with Chef Marco Pierre White, Wardman clearly impressed the judges, winning the competition 75-67.

But how did a train driver assistant and a domestic worker become such good cooks?

Mdlankomo said she watches many cooking shows and tries every recipe from the cookbooks at the home where she is employed. Wardman humbly said her skills were gained from “reading a lot and Google is also my best friend”.

As South Africa’s new MasterChef, Wardman walked off with R500 000 in cash, a brand new VW Tiguan, a R100 000 food voucher from Woolworths, a trip to the French Winelands, a year’s worth of wines from Nederburg and a glamorous holiday in the ­Seychelles.

Mdlankomo’s second place earned her a well-deserved R100 000.

The always smiling Mdlankomo said one of her biggest dreams is to have her own cooking show, but she does not want to make any hasty decisions. Wardman plans to open her own café in Durban, employing only people who have no formal training.

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