Thursday, August 2, 2012

Deena Naidoo wins first ever MasterChef SA

South Africa's first MasterChef Deena Naidoo, with celebrity chef Reza Mahammad, right.

Deena Naidoo, the affable 45-year-old IT specialist from Durban, has won the title of South Africa’s first MasterChef, beating 30-year-old Sue-Ann Allen in the final.

In the nail-biting finalé to M-Net’s first season of MasterChef SA on Tuesday, 24 July, Naidoo battled it out for the top prize against Woodstock lighting designer Sue-Ann Allen in a grueling three-part cook-off.

At the start of the episode Naidoo and Allen were flown to Johannesburg in the lap of luxury for a night in the glamorous Presidential Suite of the Palazzo Hotel at MonteCasino. “This place is obviously made for rock stars,” Allen swooned, before the two finalists were whisked off for the dinner of a lifetime at the MondoVino restaurant at Tsogo Sun’s SunSquare, which forms part of the winner’s prize package, where a three-course dinner was cooked especially for them by the MasterChef SA judges, Pete Goffe-Wood, Benny Masekwameng and Andrew Atkinson.

But the next morning it was back to reality as the two finalists headed back into the MasterChef kitchen in Paarl for the cook-off of all cook-offs. Naidoo and Allen competed in three different stages: first a mystery box challenge with an all-veggie box of ingredients, from which Allen prepared beetroot and goats’ cheese samoosas with crispy fried ribbons of vegetables and a herbed mayonnaise and Naidoo made a sautéed brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables and a parsnip purée. Next up was an invention test out of the MasterChef SA pantry, from which Allen produced a beef fillet in a red wine and porcini mushroom broth and Naidoo prepared a coriander-crusted lamb loin with honey and mustard. And the tense final round was a pressure test in which the finalists reproduced a complicated deconstructed milk tart dessert consisting of thin pastry layers with a base of cinnamon and apple gel and piped-out milk tart filling, topped with crystallized fennel seeds and a spun sugar spiral and served with a baby basil and “appel moes” (apple purée).

As South Africa’s first-ever MasterChef, Naidoo received the biggest prize package in South African television history. The R8-million prize includes:
- R250 000 from Robertsons
- A Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS
- A seven-day culinary experience in Italy and an Italian cookery course, courtesy of Woolworths
- A year’s supply of Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve wines and a customised sommelier course and one-on-one masterclasses with Nederburg’s cellarmaster
- Tsogo Sun restaurant, the MondoVino, at Tsogo Sun’s SunSquare Montecasino, for a period of two years.
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