‘MasterChef’ contestant cooks food for the soul

2013-07-15 00:00

THERE’S a sign on the wall of Joani Mitchell’s garden, which reads “Love, Faith, Dream”.

Those words sum up exactly what being a contestant on the second season of MasterChef South Africa means to the La Lucia resident.

Hard work and determination have helped the talented amateur chef to fulfil a long-held dream to share her love and passion for food with the wider world.

As fans of the M-Net reality show will know, Mitchell, who lives in Woodbury Avenue, has seen three of her fellow finalists — Shannon Smuts, Tumi Moche and Neil Lowe — leave the competition.

Lowe’s departure last week was especially upsetting for the 46-year-old former fashion designer.

“Neil and I were close to each other in the house,” Mitchell said. “I was gutted when he was knocked out. I felt like my left hand had been taken off, but then I reminded myself that this is a competition and that I needed to get on with it.”

That determination was needed as there are no cheats on this show — the challenges and time limits given to the contestants are real. “If you make a crappy meal, you go out on a crappy meal,” she said.

Mitchell — who attributes her cooking ability to her mum Manuela Pinto Coelho, who she says is “an untrained chef of the highest calibre” — enjoys making “food for the soul”.

“I love stews, hearty foods,” she says, adding if she’s cooking for her husband, Rory, sons, Kyle and Bruce, and her rugby children — Sharks U19 Academy players Stefan Ungerer, from Pietermaritzburg, Bart le Roux, Jean-Luc du Plessis (son of the legendary Springbok Carel), Neil Maritz and Gideon Koegelenberg — then nothing beats a stew made with beans and chorizo sausage.

Mitchell says she has no regrets about being on the reality show. Instead, she feels, it has helped her to believe in herself a lot more.

So much so, that since shooting wrapped, she has started a range of cooking classes, is catering for private dinner parties and has created a range of food-related corporate gifts, which includes biscuits, vinaigrette, olive oil, fudge and nougat.

“I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life,” Mitchell said. “I’m passionate about cooking … [and] it’s such an ego boost when people tell you that they love your food.”

• MasterChef SA is broadcast on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7.30 pm on M-Net.

• Anyone wanting to show their support for Joani Mitchell can like the Facebook page MCSA.JoaniMit­chell

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