Up close and personal with MasterChef’s Ozzy

By admin
23 August 2013

He’s 23, a total foodie and just a nice guy. We just love watching him on MasterChef SA and caught up with this final-year accounting student for a quick chat to see how he’s been keeping since the show stopped filming.

His name is Mohammed Azhar Osman. Or just Ozzy for short.  He’s 23, a total foodie and just a nice guy.  We just love watching him on MasterChef South Africa and caught up with this final-year accounting student for a quick chat to see how he’s been keeping since the show stopped filming.

Hi Ozzy; is it ok if I call you that?

Yes, that’s perfect. Most of my friends and family call me Ozzy.

How are you?

I am well, thanks, and you? I’m writing a semester test tomorrow.

Cool, thanks. Aah, what subject?

Accounting.

That must be difficult. Did you miss a lot of classes because of MasterChef?

No, the recording of the show fit in perfectly with the University of Johannesburg campus holiday. So that was fantastic.

You seem like a pretty cool guy. How would you describe yourself?

I am a really fun person, a bit old for my age. I am adventurous; I love meeting new people and going out with friends. I love travelling. My heart is in Africa, but I like Europe and America. I have an outdoor-loving side of me; I love animals and nature. I am blessed to live in South Africa.

What was it like being Muslim in a cooking competition?

Honestly, entering MasterChef, I was worried I wasn’t going to be catered for and that other religions wouldn’t be respected. But they catered for me in every challenge and my views weren’t in jeopardy. I am so thankful they gave me the opportunity to participate and that they catered for my religious beliefs.

You made ox tongue in one of the challenges, without tasting it. And then the judges loved it . . .

I wasn’t forced to use anything against my religious views in any challenge.  The ox tongue I made in an invention test; I tasted the pickle and didn’t try the meat. But I was happy with the taste of the pickle and glad the judges liked it. If you respect your religion it will pay off and in the end I’m glad it did.

So you live in Houghton . . . Nice.

I live with my parents and siblings. My dad, Mahomed, is a charted accountant and my mom, Hafsa, a fashion designer.  My brother, Yaaseen (21), is a second-year sports science student at the University of Johannesburg and my sister, Aaliyah (16), is in Grade 10.

What are the most important things you need in a kitchen?

A set of knives. With that you can do almost anything. And good pots! I was spoilt using my mom’s pots and she would shout at me for messing them up. I also love cooking on a gas stove.

You’re doing pretty well in the competition thus far. What was the experience like?

The competition up to that point was somewhat of an education. I learnt so much, especially with the cultural differences and age groups.  Being away from home so long is emotionally taxing, but becoming a stronger person is what it’s all about. There are immense amounts of pressure on you, trying to bring out the best in you.

Why do you love cooking?

It’s the one part of life that connects people, at any gathering. I love people and connecting. Food binds us and brings us together. Each culture has different takes on food and different techniques. You can’t know it all, but can always discover and explore.

Which one of the contestants did you get along with most?

Kamini and I were pretty close, but I got along with the sisters [Leandri and Seline] and with Jason.  They motivated me so much.

So you made bobotie in an elimination challenge the other day without knowing how. What do you know about koeksisters, braai, pap and milk tart?

[Laughs] I love everything you just mentioned.  I adore milk tart. It’s truly South African, rich and creamy, and I would love to learn how to make it.  To braai is the best way to spend time with friends over the weekend. We have good, quality meat here. Not many countries in the world can enjoy a braai the way we do.

Your Twitter description is: “Aspiring culinary artist, car freak, sucker for romance, hard head, its my way or no way! dont judge this book by its cover coz the cover changes like the story does . . . (sic)” Three questions:

1.  Favourite car?  BMW M3. It’s the one car that’s motivated me since I was a kid. I have a poster on my wall and have always wanted one. It won’t mean anything if I don’t earn it myself.  It is my benchmark in life to measure my success. I have to work hard for it, and work towards it.

2. Tell us about your love-life?

Mmm . . . (clears throat). I don’t have one at the moment. It has been a bit weird, with MasterChef and all the publicity. Being just a normal, really soft and sweet guy inside, I don’t know who’s real and who’s not. It is a big adjustment. Everyone seems to know you.

I am a loving, caring guy and a sucker for romance. My generation doesn’t appreciate romance. I am a ’50s kid at heart; they took pride in the things they did . . . Writing love letters wasn’t as easy as picking up the phone.

3. Has MasterChef changed your life? 

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on MasterChef South Africa. I never thought I’d have a fighting chance. My life changed drastically. Life has a strange way of bringing fate and luck into your life. It was dull and boring; I was just an accounting student who’d lost his sparkle. I thought maybe cooking was just a hobby.

MasterChef re-lit the fire in my life. It changed my story and made it so exciting. Now I want so much more out of life and to do something great with it.

Thanks for the chat. We’re watching you and holding thumbs that you become the next MasterChef!

-Loren Pienaar

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