A lot has changed for Kamini Pather since she won last year’s season of MasterChef South Africa. The 31-year-old seemed content, saying that all her achievements were the payoff for the hustling she did in the 13 years she’s been creating food dishes. The TV presenter, who’s building a life and career out of food, talked to us about how she realised her dreams.
Growing up, Kamini had no idea she would cook as part of her career. She actually studied Commerce at the University of Natal in Durban. The degree didn’t challenge her creative side, so the kitchen became her escape from the long-worded textbooks. She started small, experimenting with what some would call basic ingredients. She tested what happened when she added milk or cream to eggs, then cooked the batter on high heat, and then switched to a lower heat setting. All of a sudden, Kamini bypassed her usual Cosmopolitan magazine in stores, opting for food magazines instead. She spent her time watching cooking channels and visiting markets, where she would buy the weirdest things just to see what dish she could make with them. “It was then when I started stalking chefs at every possible cooking show. I hounded editors and wangled my way into food conferences. I was such a nuisance!” confesses Kamini. Whenever there was a Taste of Cape Town event or something similar, you would find Kamini there. By following chefs and asking questions about how they got into the industry or how they made a particular dish, Kamini was able to feed the curiosity that was brewing inside her.
She took inspiration from established chefs like Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsey. In 2008 she took the first step in establishing her own career by starting a food blog, Deelishuss. It was hard to maintain as she did all the styling, writing, recipes and photography herself. Despite her busy lifestyle, she still manages to work on her blog which is now part of her website and is under construction.
Now she is a “seasoned” cook who is able to create dishes to please the taste buds of the hardcore MasterChef judges. Interestingly, Kamini chickened out of the first season in 2012. She would not have won, she says, because she needed to learn to trust herself more.
“Thirty comes with understanding of self,” admits the young cook calmly. Her 30s started at the same time she won the reality cooking show. Her advice to the current contestants is to never lose focus and trust your judgement.
“If things don’t work out, find a loophole, and adapt,” says Kamini as she recalls an incident where she failed to make pasta from scratch for the 15 people she had over for supper. She salvaged the situation and her guests enjoyed every forkful of her “back-up plan”.
Today she’s a blogger, presenter and was a food assistant on a TV show called Cooking with Siba and winner of MasterChef South Africa 2013. “It’s like my life,” she pauses,“ but on steroids.”
It’s not surprising that the go-getter is on the brink of hosting a TV show of her own called Girl.Eat.World. She leaves on September 9 to shoot for nine weeks in nine destinations around the world. Kamini won’t only be in the kitchen or making food. She will take you along as she bungee jumps, sky dives and gets tattooed. It’s still unclear when her show will air, but viewers should prepare themselves for early next year. It seems commitment really does take you places. From scrambling eggs in her kitchen to winning a cooking competition and jet-setting to exotic countries, Pather is now on top of the world. After all the hustling and knocking on doors, she definitely deserves it.
Season 3 of MasterChef South Africa airs on Thursdays on M-Net Channel 101 at 19:30