I have individually thanked all involved in MasterChef South Africa but I want to take this opportunity to thank the entire team for a fantastic time spent together. Everyone was so professional, helpful - and enthusiastic to get the best possible show out. What an absolute pleasure working with you all.
Well firstly it entailed my leaving Mooi River under a veil of utmost secrecy... not telling a soul where I was off to and what I had planned for the next few days. This did raise a few eyebrows which I simply had to ignore. Getting to the Cape and not being able to tell anyone why I was there or even tweet about my experience was not an easy task. I kept asking the production team what I was allowed and not allowed to do.
Upon my arrival in Cape Town, I was collected from the airport and driven through to the Nederburg studio/kitchens.
We happened to flutter past Sue-Ann Allen - Masterchef South Africa 2012 runner up - a cook by heart but not by trade; now a cook-book author and TV-show host (everything she does is for the love of life and food) and someone with whom I've become great friends with over the past few months. As we passed Sue-Ann, I naturally gave her a huge wave and the next minute I froze... I remembered no one was meant to know I was at the studios. Oh boy, I am not very good at this.
When we arrived at the MasterChef kitchen, the contestants were having lunch and had to be quickly ushered into a dark room so they couldn't see me sneaking in. All quite a strain for this country bumpkin!
The next day we started pretty early and I couldn't get over how the day flew. In no time at all the contestants were walking in and the cameras were rolling. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown from the contestants as I walked in... remember I’m just a chef from Mooi River. At one stage I was concerned they wouldn't even know who I was! But as soon as the cooking started I was in my zone... the 15 minutes before felt like 30!
Contestant Tiron Eloff was fantastic - he did such a brilliant job. I was extremely proud of him and his determination was inspiring. I so enjoyed chatting to him and I tried my utmost to feed him with as much culinary knowledge during the time we spent together as possible. We had some great laughs too. Just before we left the kitchen he commented on the 'quail' he had just cooked... I was like: 'no, no it was guinea fowl'. He went bright red, laughed and said, "I have been calling it a quail in all my interviews". I thought this was priceless; he may have been confused with what he was cooking but still he cooked it better than most chefs would have in their own restaurants. Well done Tiron!
Another bonus was flying home with Joani Mitchell. I am sure she wasn't too chuffed about having to go home at first, but we did have a fantastic time together and I look forward to seeing her often in the future.
The MasterChef South Africa 2013 contestants are such a great bunch of people and I wish them all the very best for their exciting culinary journeys in the years ahead.
Overall a fantastic experience to be involved in... MasterChef Team, you all rock!
For commentary and videos of MasterChef South Africa Episode 18, here are a few great links :