As one of the Woolworths bloggers for the duration of Masterchef SA, I’m quite invested in the show and I have to say, I was a little nervous before the show started as I really hoped it would live up to all the hype. I have not been disappointed. I think the production value is just incredible and I really enjoy the show as a whole. Of course, it was expected that a lot of the hype would be about the judges and on Twitter, people have definitely not felt the need to keep what they think of the judges to themselves. Some opinions are funny, some are true and some are right out rude and so I thought it a good idea to have a chat with the three men who are in charge of choosing South Africa’s first Masterchef. (Chef Benny Masekwameng’s wife recently gave birth to a beautiful baby and as such he hasn’t gotten his answers back to me yet, once he does I will post them as well.)
What do you hope Masterchef SA does for South African cuisine and South African chefs?
Pete Goffe-Wood (PGW): My hope is that South Africans will have a great sense of pride when they see that standard of cuisine delivered by passionate amateurs – we have a number of local challenges that I hope will help us fall in love with our own culinary heritage and what it has to offer.
Andrew Atkinson (AA): I know that MasterChef SA will eventually make the everyday South African realise what great produce, great talent & world class chefs we have here right on our doorsteps. We don’t need to keep looking to International countries to look for any of these as SA has some of, if not the best, chefs & produce available.
What would you have cooked in the first round of auditions (cold dishes?)
PGW: I would have cooked a terrine or a dessert of some description – something that would have had to take a couple of days to make – to show some level of skill.
AA : Since the requirement was a cold dish, I would have prepared my Lindt Chocolate & Grand Manier iced souffle & I would havef flamed it at the judges’ table.
What do you say to critics who say you are either being too dramatic or too harsh on tv?
PGW: I can’t answer to the dramatic – I’m not an actor nor are am I trying to be one, what you see is what I’m really like. As to being harsh – there is a lot at stake and anyone not giving 100% is going to feel my less sympathetic side.
AA: Hahaha! How did you know what I’m already being asked? I know that I’m not going to please every viewer out there so I simply respond as honestly possible & remind them that it is TV, so the criticism & drama has been put on there to entertain them. It doesn’t necessarily reflect who I truly am as I’m a lot more relaxed & full of fun than in real life and on TV I’m a lot more serious. It’s a serious competition though so the contestants always understand when we are being harsh.
What is your favourite food that you would never admit to in front of other chefs? (plastic bread sandwiches, processed cheese..)
PGW: I have a huge weakness for Hamburgers – but not mass produced fast food types – good, well crafted ones which are difficult to find.
AA: I like peanut butter & enjoyed eating it on most mornings while on set with oats, yoghurt or just plain by itself – yummy!
What is the one thing you wish South African cooks would stop/start doing?
PGW: I wish that SA cooks both amateur & professional would use more sustainable fish – follow the SASSI guidelines & shop with a conscience.
AA: Its only a small percentage of chefs, but I wish that chefs would feel proud of their uniforms & show it when they wear it. I can’t stand-it when a chef walks around in their uniform that isn’t buttoned up properly, dirty trousers hanging down & they simply look untidy. I don’t like the mix-&-matching of chefs uniforms either but as long as there neat & tidy, I can bear it. Chefs need to take some pride in how they wear their uniform, be proud of it & wear it with respect. Its not only a reflection of themselves but our profession.