Friday, October 15, 2010

APB exclusive - Interview ofJimmy Seervai, MasterChef Australia 2010! PART 1

Around the Ghildiyal home, the MasterChef Australia rerun has been having a lot of effect. My family and I love it! Especially my kids (a boy of 9 and a little girl of 3). My DH has been cooking up a storm; muffins, pancakes, cakes, breakfast, and every morning, my daughter will wake up and ask ‘Aaj MasterChef aayega na? (MasterChef will come today,no?). My son thinks Marion is cute (a turning point when your 9 year old says a girl is cute!) and the highest compliment I can get these days is ‘Mamma you should have been on MasterChef’.  Even I have relaxed my strictest rule and on Masterchef nights, we all dine in front of the Telly (not a regular habit round here). Of course, invariably, as soon at the show begins our eyes go looking for Jimmy Seervai, the contestant with Indian roots. Jimmy cooked his way to fourth place in MasterChef Australia. Finally, with MasterChef India due to start, I decided to interview him and find out more about his experiences on the Australian version, being Indian and his advice to Indians contenders for the title.  

How did you decide to enter the competition?
I saw an advertisement for the show in August 2009 and I decided to enter as my family and friends said that I would be perfect for the show because I love to cook. My fiancé especially, thought it was a good idea because she knows that cooking is my number one passion. I drive her nuts with my cooking talk and she thought it would be a great for me to be around like minded people who have a passion for cooking and come back with a stack of new recipes so I can keep cooking for her!

Why do you think you were chosen?
I think Garry chose me! During the audition I made a very spicy prawn curry and George nearly passed out.... So I am sure Garry would like to see more moments like that.

Tell us a little about how you progressed through the various rounds?
There were 3 rounds in total to get into the top 50 and I just took it day by day, to be honest I didn’t expect to make it through so for me it was more like having a bit of fun rather than wanting to get it.

We know that the Masterchef is an amateur cooking but that said it would have demanded a certain level of competency from you, do you have a background in cooking?
I don’t have any professional background in cooking at all, my passion for cooking is purely something I have learned with the help of my mum and developed by myself. I would say that cooking is not only my favourite hobby but my one true passion in life.

Was it difficult being on a program where you had to actually perform and be able to cook up something tasty and interesting? Were there any mishaps?
The hardest part of the show for me when it came to cooking, was the fact that we had time limits. Most people can attempt difficult recipes but when you also have a time limit, it means that mistakes can and will happen. For me the hardest part of the show was the mystery box as you were limited with what you could make with the ingredients allocated in the box.

What was your best round where you excelled and made an impression with your cooking?
The best part of the show so far for me has been the signature dish round where we had to create a dish from scratch that was our own. To have the judges say to me that it was the dish of the day amongst 45 of Australia’s best amateur cooks was amazing!

Who or what has inspired you to cook?
I have been surrounded by food my entire life.When I was 8. I spent the majority of my childhood working in my parents Indian spice shop in Sydney; where I learnt at very young age about different herbs and spices and talking with the customers that used to come to the shop about their cooking styles. people from different parts of India would come and buy different ingredients that would give me ideas and I would swap ideas with home cooks that brought over traditional recipes from India that were passed down for generations. But I would have to say the person who has brought all of this together has been my mum, she has been the driving force for my cooking passion.

How has the program helped you in terms of growth as a person and as a cook? What were your weaknesses and what were your strengths?
Before I went on the show I was comfortable cooking certain foods and using familiar techniques, by engaging with the other contestants I have developed new cooking skills and cooking techniques. For example I was never strong with deserts but I have now attempted so many complex deserts.

Did you have any time to prepare before you joined the show?
There was no time at all, from the initial audition process there was a 3 week gap and then straight on the show!

Were you able to consult anyone during cooking if there were any doubts? Or did you have to adhere to a strict protocol?
During the cooking time everyone is so focused on what they make that there isn’t any time to consult, some of the challenges were only 5 minutes long!!

What are your favourite dishes that you like to cook?
I love cooking anything with spice in it. For me the dish has to have a kick to it! My favourite cuisine would be Parsi Indian food, something that I was brought up on.

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