Life after ‘MasterChef’

2013-09-14 00:00

A CULINARY journey that began with watching her grandmothers in the kitchen, and enjoying family dinners and lunches, reached a high point for Kamini Pather when she became South Africa’s second MasterChef on Wednesday evening.

The Durban-born food blogger, radio DJ and yoga instructor, told Weekend Witness that one of her earliest memories was of sitting at a table with her grans, cousins, aunts and uncles enjoying a family meal.

“I think that’s when I first recognised the importance of food and how it can bring people together,” Pather said.

After matriculating at Durban Girls’ College in 2000, she enrolled at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to do a bachelor of commerce degree. At the same time, she started to “mess around with eggs” because her degree wasn’t creative enough.

“Food gave me that freedom that I needed,” said Pather, who grew up in Glenwood. “It started the obsession with food that I have had for most of my adult life … I would spend hours Googling recipes and devouring cookbooks.”

Pather now plans to use the MasterChef platform to encourage people to find out where their food comes from.

“I also want people to start cooking again … and to be conscious of what they are putting into their bodies,” Pather said. “And I want to encourage people to use local ingredients that are grown seasonally.”

Looking back on her MasterChef experience, she says an undoubted highlight was being able to cook for one of her food heroes, Luke Dale-Roberts, from The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. Pather, who also loves the work of Margot Janse from Relais and Châteaux Le Quartier Français Hotel in Franschhoek, said: “They both believe in using local ingredients and they don’t waste.

“I got to spend two weeks at The Test Kitchen and I learned that Luke doesn’t waste anything. He even uses the stalks from berries to make a kind of jelly.”

Pather, who won five challenges during the show, said another highlight was the dairy challenge when she made spiced pannacotta with stewed apple and pancetta crumble. Pete Goffe-Wood, one of the MasterChef judges, told her it was the best dish of the series.

“It was amazing to be able to cook for Haile Gebrselassie in Ethiopia. He is an international icon and so humble,” she said.

And then there was the joy of being able to immerse herself in the world of food, week after week. “It really was special,” Pather said.

Asked what she planned to spend her R400 000 cash prize on, Pather joked that she considered renting a yacht for a month and living like a rapper.

“But I’m an adult. So I think I’m going to invest the cash and see how I can use it to do a blogging portal or fund a TV series, and see how to use it to my advantage,” she said.

While South Africa’s newest MasterChef may now call Cape Town home, her win has been celebrated in Durban by her parents, Rajen and Anitha Pather, and younger brother, Neelan.

• Kamini Pather will be appearing at the Good Food and Wine Show at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg from September 21 to September 24 alongside Australian MasterChef celebrities Hayden Quinn and Gary Mehigan. Booking is at Computicket or www.goodfoodandwineshow.co.za

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