We chatted to Tsogo Sun's Executive Chef and MasterChef SA judge Benny Masekwameng about the first MasterChef SA series and about the challenges that face the winner, Deena.
1. WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE WINNER OR DID YOU HAVE A GOOD FEELING ABOUT DEENA?
I was not surprised that Deena won the competition. He's been consistent throughout the show, produced wonderful dishes and overcame a lot of difficult obstacles to reach the final.
2. WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF BEING A MASTERCHEF SA JUDGE FOR YOU?
Being able to witness and be on that journey with the contestants from their humble beginnings to realising their dream of becoming South Africa's first MasterChef!
3. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU LEARNED FROM THE VERY FIRST SERIES THAT WOULD IMPROVE THE NEXT SERIES?
Obviously being in front of cameras for the first time meant that I had to work on a lot of things i.e camera angles, delivery, projection etc. The main purpose of the show is food and judging (which comes naturally since it's what I do professionally). For the next series it's gonna be easier as I'm now used to the 'TV' part and all my concentration is going to be on the food side of things!
4. DO YOU THINK THAT WINNING MASTERCHEF QUALIFIES YOU TO RUN YOUR OWN RESTAURANT? WHAT SORT OF SUPPORT STRUCTURE WILL THE WINNER GET?
It gives you the foundation, and fortunately for the winner then comes big brother Tsogo Sun to hold their hand and guide them through the whole experience, giving support in all aspects of the business to make sure that they run a successful restaurant.
5. WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU THINK A PERSON NEEDS TO MAKE A SUCCESS OF SUCH A CHALLENGING VENTURE?
Passion for food, good guest relations skills and the desire to please people using food. Using your own style of cooking to produce high quality food on a consistent basis, and keeping up to date with what is going on in the food and beverage world.
6. YOU WERE CLEARLY THE PEOPLE’S FAVOURITE JUDGE. WILL YOU DO IT AGAIN?
Most definitely, anytime, all the time!
7. WHICH EPISODE WAS YOUR FAVOURITE?
The episode where the contestants had to replicate iconic South African dishes.
8. WHICH CELEB CHEF/JUDGE ON THE SHOW WAS YOUR FAVOURITE?
Michel Roux Jr.
9. IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE FEMALE JUDGE FOR THE NEXT SERIES – WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?