Johannesburg: Indian-origin IT specialist Deena Naidoo’s love for cooking has helped him clinch the crown of South Africa’s first MasterChef in the internationally franchised television reality show.
There was an Indian touch to 45-year-old Naidoo’s dish in the nail-biting finale of the TV series MasterChef SA on Tuesday evening as he prepared a coriander-crusted lamb loin with honey and mustard to beat the other finalist, lighting designer Sue-Ann Allen.
Besides a quarter million rand in cash from spice manufacturer Robertsons, Naidoo also won a brand new Hyundai Elantra, a seven-day culinary experience in Italy, an Italian
cookery course, a year’s supply of top wines and the cherry on the top – his very own restaurant, the MondoVino, a hugely popular Montecasino in Johannesburg, to run for a period of two years.
“This has given me a platform to celebrate my life-long passion for food,” Naidoo said.
He said it was a bit intimidating to have been catapulted to fame from obscurity by the 13-part TV show.
“Everybody wants to take photographs with me in the street or wherever I go with my family, but I owe it to the public who supported me all the way and put me up thereto and not
deny them the opportunity to share in that celebration,” he said.
“I took the competition very seriously – I spent years preparing for this moment and was determined to win big, not realising that that moment would be MasterChef,” Naidoo said.
The winner added that he had tried to make contact with the Australian and British winners of the MasterChef competition to see if he could learn anything from them and avoid the pitfalls in the contest, but that they had not responded to his requests at all.
“So I just read up about it and researched it to do the best that I could,” he said.
Naidoo now wants to write a cookbook. “The aim is to inspire ordinary people, because many people think that it’s impossible to cook or that they can’t cook, and I want to show them that it is absolutely simple and easy to cook,” he said.