This girl is ready to take on the world one bite at a time. Her name is Kamini Pather, like ‘harmony’ with a K. You might not have heard of her, but if you are a masterchef fan then you would be delighted to know that Kamini was the winner of Masterchef South Africa in 2013.
Last year I had the opportunity to meet Kamini during the Dubai trip and later in the year, we met again in Sydney. She was in town filming her new TV show, Girl Eat World, and I was honoured that I was asked to be part of the show. Hence, I spent two days showing Kamini the Sydney food scene and what this city has to offer. We tried something old, something new and also something little unusual to say the least.
Here I have a short interview with Kamini to find out more about her life after Masterchef, the new TV show and what she thinks about Sydney food scene.
BL: First of all, how’s life since winning Masterchef South Africa?
KP: Busy and I like it that way. My food dream was all centred around food-media and I’ve ben doing exactly that by hosting local radio, contributing through editorial restaurant reviews, recipe development and food/trend-related articles. This TV series, Girl Eat World, is simply the cherry on top! As you well know, Billy, MasterChef gives a regular person a voice and a platform to be able to live their dream. My life has been completely changed for the better.
BL: Tell us about your new TV show Girl Eat World.
KP: It’s a 10 part food-travel show that features bloggers like us. I visited Johannesburg, Bangkok, Tokyo, Sydney, Lima, Philadelphia, Berlin, Milan, Copenhagen and Dubai and met bloggers who introduced me to their city through food and adventure. Some of the episodes have a cookery lesson, for example in Milan I got taught how to make a Risotto A La Milanese by a 3rd generation chef. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Italian but we were cracking jokes and having a blast because we connected through the language of food. Yes, foodie jokes are 100% nerdy but if the shoes, hey. Other episodes included adventure segments where I was thrown from various heights. I bungee jumped off the Soweto Cooling Towers in Johannesburg and did a Base Fly in Berlin both of which were 100m. I wasn’t afraid of heights before show as I had bungee’d the 216m high Bloukrans Bridge, as well as sky-dived because but somehow doing it with a go-pro attached to you ups the ante. I also don’t seem make that high pitched girlie noise one would expect but rather have the birthing-a-dinosaur sound that escapes my body.
BL: It was great to have you in Sydney and we sure ate a lot together! So what do you think of the Sydney food scene?
KP: I follow many of the Aussie foodies because between South Africa and Australia, we share seasonality, which is a huge consideration for produce. I’m a little tired of watching cold-Christmas dishes when I’m relaxing by the pool getting ready to braai (BBQ). The food scene in Sydney is insanely fresh. The Asian influence has almost saved the once British-alligned cuisine. Our visit to Pinbone stays with me as one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. The caramelised pigs tongue with edamame beans and the battered toy with bacon relish were beautifully presented and had a sense of humour about themselves. I have to admit that the famed Tiger Pie is not my favourite. The ice-cream scoops or mushy peas, mashed potatoes and gravy are bit too closely linked to a very old part of the Australian history.
BL: Tell us more about the food scene in South Africa, what must we try?
KP: Much like what I experienced in Sydney, the food in SA is going through a renaissance with many chefs using secondary cuts of meat perfectly, focusing on locally produce, farm-to-plate style dining with many international influences. Having said that though, there are many underrated local dishes. One that I tried for the first time when we shot in Johannesburg was the Smilie, rather obviously named so because it’s a lamb head, chopped in half and cooked in a spicy curry sauce. The lamb cheek meat is insanely dark and tender – a truly fantastic dish, albeit a tad macabre.
My completely biased belief is that the only real change that people can have on the world is through food. In SA we have such a multi-facetted people with such textured heritage that the food scene here is a delicious representation of our people. Anything from a hot Durban-curry bunny chow (a hollowed loaf of bread filled with curry) or Cameroonian flamed grilled fish with plantain chips or our legendary boerewors (thick beef sausage flavoured with coriander seeds) to Monkey Gland Sauce, which (much like Pepperdews) is a South African invention, one really is spoilt for choice. The solution? Don’t choose, try everything!
BL: What is your favourite food and why?
KP: Besides beetroot juice, I will eat anything. I like to taste as much as I can on and off the menu so eating tapas style is possibly my favourite because I get to eat everything! Degustation is also top draw for me because it’s many little portions with loads of flavour to woo my palate, course after course after course. Yes, I am an ever-hungry soul.
If you are in South Africa, The Middle East or Dubai, then make sure you tune in to Food Network on 15th of May at 20:00 and check out Kamini’s new show, Girl Eat World. Bad luck for the Aussies, hopefully they will air here soon or I might have to ask my friends in South Africa to tape it for me!