Mauritius And Mangoes Equals Magic In This Year’s MasterChef
I figured 29-year-old finalist Shelina Permalloo would win MasterChef 2012 last night: Her dishes so heavily influenced by her native Mauritius including mangoes aplenty, whacks of color and reams of spices with her personality infused throughout were just the ticket for Permalloo to beat the rest of the crew.
Judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode pointed out these elements in this winner’s cooking repeatedly throughout the weeks that the series aired with palpable and often gleeful exuberance.
Therefore, it was no great shock at all when Permalloo won. However, from what we witnessed regarding her culinary talents and skills, I think she has ‘done good’ and she got her just rewards.
Kudos To The Cooks
I have been watching MasterChef for years now, and no matter how hammy it may get at times (and besides the fact that the voice of the narrator always strikes me as artificially feminine and breathy, as if she’s trying to be sexy over green beans et al!) – still: It’s a winning combination to view, and it’s got an educational component to boot that I appreciate.
So here’s a salute to all of the eight amateur cooks who cooked their hearts out in each challenge, and to the mentor chefs with their Michelin stars and many years of cookery knowledge who contributed their expertise to the series.
Albeit as only an armchair observer, I feel I also learned some valuable tips throughout the stream of the series.
Whence Comes MasterChef, Eh?
It was the Englishman Francis Roddam aged 65 from County Durham who created the format for MasterChef, as I have discovered.
Described as a screenwriter, film director, businessman, publisher, and television producer from the late 1960s onwards, Roddam is well known for producing the formats for Auf Wiedersehen, Pet which aired in the 1980s and early 2000s as well as for a number of other award-winning TV dramas and documentaries in the UK and USA.
MasterChef, however, has become a worldwide TV phenomenon. It’s shown in 150 countries worldwide including 20 locally produced versions.
In Australia, for example, it is the most watched TV series. Because I spent a few months in Australia during the 1990s when I was living in South Korea, this factual tidbit also interests me.
Likewise, I see that France, India, Israel, and my native USA – all countries where I have greatly enjoyed the food – have MasterChef competitions.
I for one think it would be grand fun roaming about to tune in to get a taste of these various competitions as well if one is fortunate enough to be in the country when they’re on the tube.
My Facebook Factor
Seeing that ‘six degrees of separation’ is often in operation in my personal universe for some reason, a friend of mine on Facebook is good friends with one of the eight MasterChef 2012 contestants. So I took the opportunity to send a Facebook message to this contestant.
He graciously responded, and so I found myself particularly riveted to the TV whenever he was on camera. I don’t want to mention him by name for privacy’s sake, but his inclusion in the competition made it all the nicer for me to watch.
Child In Need India (CINI)
And now today I want to share another personal connection with MasterChef that has a far-reaching and serious element.
But first, some information about Child In Need India – or CINI, as it is commonly known.
As its strap line under its logo on line states, CINI’s logic is ‘help the mother, help the child’. It describes its mission as
focus[ing] on sustainable improvement in Health, Nutrition, Education and the Protection for women and children in need. It aims to overcome the barriers of poverty, caste and gender that affect the lives of the poor and vulnerable in India.
In India, helping mothers and children at risk is particularly meaningful because around 6,000 children die every day in the country.
That translates into the staggering statistic that every fifteen seconds, one child dies in India. Moreover, according to a 2009 UNICEF statistic – Indian women are 80 times more likely to die in childbirth than here in the UK.
MasterChef 2010 Dhruv Baker Heads CINI’s ‘Cook For Life’ Initiative
MasterChef comes into this mix because to mark Mother’s Day which falls this Sunday here in the UK, CINI has created its ‘Cook For Life’ initiative with the help of another MasterChef figure – namely 36-year-old Dhruv Baker who won the MasterChef 2010 title.
Baker was born in Mexico, where he lived until the age of four when his family moved to India.
He has reflected on his website about how deeply influenced he was by “the cuisines and culinary wonders of these very different cultures.”
Meanwhile on CINI’s website, Dhruv explained his drive to connect with their efforts:
Having lived in India for over ten years and having seen how vitally important campaigns such as CINIs ‘Cook For Life’ initiative are, I am absolutely delighted to be involved.
Baker and CINI are encouraging people to cook a meal for family and friends with the intention that a donation for the meal will be passed on to CINI.
So if you want to get in on this charitable act, click here to view and download CINI’s exclusive recipe cards created by Dhruv.
A Personal Impression
I remember when Dhruv was on MasterChef. I cannot recall the details as it was back in 2010. However, I do still recall that Dhruv had an earnest sparkle in his eye and that a sprightly zest for life came through in his personality.
So I’m pleased as punch for CINI that he has lent his cooking expertise to call on cooks to prepare a meal with an aim to donating to CINI to help improve the lives of women and children in India.
Sir Mark Tully, An Exceptional Journalist Steeped In The Indian Culture
Born in Calcutta, India in 1935, Sir William ‘Mark’ Tully is also lending his support to CINI this Mother’s Day weekend.
Tully worked for the BBC for 30 years, 20 years of which he held the position of Chief of Bureau for BBC, New Delhi.
Although he resigned from that BBC position in 1994, Tully has worked as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in New Delhi since that time.
He is currently the regular presenter of the weekly BBC Radio 4 program ‘Something Understood’. The BBC describes him as being ‘incomparable’ among foreign correspondents, informing readers that he was also awarded the OBE and was recently knighted for his outstanding career.
The BBC also points out that Tully is exceptional because he has been awarded the highly esteemed Padma Shri Award from the President of India for his writing and reporting on India for more than 25 years.
A writer drawn to empathetic portraits of the Indian culture told from the point of view of the poor, Tully attracts about a million listeners every Sunday when he presents the spiritually-rooted ‘Something Understood’ program which includes music, poetry, prose, and conversation.
Listen To The Broadcast This Sunday On BBC Radio 4
Tune in to BBC Radio 4 this Sunday, March 18th when CINI will broadcast an appeal read by Tully at 7:55 a.m. and 9:26 p.m. and the following Thursday, March 22nd at 3:27 p.m.
Back to my personal experiences: I have always been drawn to India since I was a young child growing up in the USA.
Although she never visited India, my late mother used to talk about its exoticism, a perspective that was reinforced by various English novels that I read from childhood onwards where India was often painted in wondrous and inviting tones.
Fast forward to about six years ago when I was looking for an organization for whom I could volunteer. I heard about CINI, I was impressed by their work, and so I appreciated the opportunity to volunteer by editing material for them.
Because I had to devote more time to other things, however, I stopped that volunteer work for them a while back. However, I kept in touch with them. Then about two years ago, David and I traveled in northern India for seven weeks. It was an eye-popping experience that matched if not exceeded my imaginings about the place.
We have written extensively here on this blog of ours about our experiences, so put in ‘India’ in the search box here if you wish to bring up titles of our posts. And naturally I also had CINI in mind when thinking about India, so our articles include the one I wrote last year about CINI called Help Bring Attention To Child In Need India This Mother’s Day.
Quillcards’ CINI Mother’s Day Ecards
One thing led to another as time went on, and then at Mother’s Day last year as part of our ‘Ethical Causes’ range, we at Quillcards created five CINI ecards like this one to support the charity’s vitally important cause:
CINI has featured our ecards in the Get Involved section of their website.
You can send one or as many ecards as you wish for free either via CINI’s page or through the Free Ecards page on our main site.
So along with CINI’s ‘Cook 4 Life’ and its BBC Radio 4 appeal, we hope that you will click here and send these ecards this Mother’s Day and throughout the rest of the year to help spread the word even more about CINI’s great work.
Child In Need India (CINI)
Wikipedia: Francis Roddam
MasterChef Winner 2010: Dhruv Baker
Wikipedia: Mark Tully
BBC – Radio 4 People: Mark Tully
BBC – BBC Radio 4 Programmes – Radio 4 Appeal, Child in Need India