The music. The flair. The speed. MasterChef Australia makes cooking look glamorous. However, how many of its recipes have you considered recreating? None, we're guessing. Not that we blame you. They seem so technical. So complex. So deeply intimidating.
Hence Star World's recent MasterChef Experience, designed for MetroPlus readers in Chennai. The channel, in association with Courtyard by Marriott, organised a cooking demonstration for 15 readers, hand-holding them through three Master Chef recipes. Participants included restaurateurs, foodies and even a little 12 year old girl, who quickly became the day's mascot: our Junior Master Chef.
At Rhapsody, the hotel's Italian lounge bar, Chef R. Devakumar supervised the setting, with myriad bowls of ingredients. Meanwhile people began to arrive, swapping cards and stories. All food related, of course. Dapper general manager Ankush Sharma even confessed his weakness for Nigella Lawson's easy but wickedly butter-soaked recipes. In the background a silent flat screen TV showed Australian food stylist Donna Hay making her signature chocolate fondant.
Chef Devakumar began the session by explaining how to make fresh pasta, and then went on to demonstrate a neat spinach and ricotta cannelloni sprinkled with crisp pine nuts. Next came the labour-intensive cheese tortellini, in a fragrant emerald pesto sauce. He ended with a ricotta-filled crepe with chocolate and strawberries. As each dish was made, waiters handed out tasting portions to the participants — a definite advantage to watching a live demonstration over television.
Each recipe was demonstrated in clear, simple steps. Members of the audience were asked to stand beside the chef and try specific techniques, so he could supervise them individually. Chef Devakumar also taught some useful basic bases for Italian recipes, such as roux, pesto and béchamel. He explained how to make “sun-dried tomatoes”. (Since the city's pollution makes sun drying them impractical, he suggests putting tomatoes in the oven with herbs, salt and a drizzle of olive oil, for six hours. Start with 40 degrees C and gradually increase the heat towards the end.) And gave tips like how to prevent pesto from going black. (Chill basil leaves and olive oil before putting them in the blender. It's the heat that makes them change colour.)
The session ended with goodie bags from Star World, filled with MasterChef hats, aprons and gloves. And no. Nobody was eliminated.
MasterChef Australia launches June 14. Watch the show from Monday to Friday at 9 p.m. on STAR World.