Deena Naidoo, the affable 45-year-old I.T. specialist from Durban, has won the title of South Africa’s first MasterChef.
In the nail-biting finalé to M-Net's hit first season of MasterChef SA last night (Tuesday, 24 July), Deena battled it out for the top prize against Woodstock lighting designer Sue-Ann Allen (30) in a gruelling three-part cook-off.
At the start of tonight’s gripping episode Deena and Sue-Ann were flown to Johannesburg in the lap of luxury for a night in the glamorous Presidential Suite of the Palazzo Hotel at MonteCasino.
"This place is obviously made for rock stars," Sue-Ann swooned, before the two finalists were whisked off for the dinner of a lifetime at the MondoVino restaurant at Tsogo Sun's SunSquare, which forms part of the winner's prize package, where a three-course dinner was cooked especially for them by the MasterChef judges, Pete Goffe-Wood, Benny Masekwameng and Andrew Atkinson.
But the next morning it was back to reality as the two finalists headed back into the MasterChef kitchen in Paarl for the cook-off of all cook-offs. Deena and Sue-Ann competed in three different stages: first a mystery box challenge with an all-veggie box of ingredients, from which Sue-Ann prepared beetroot and goats' cheese samoosas with crispy fried ribbons of vegetables and a herbed mayonnaise and Deena made a sautéed brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables and a parsnip purée.
Next up was an invention test out of the well-stocked MasterChef pantry, from which Sue-Ann produced a beef fillet in a red wine and porcini mushroom broth and Deena prepared a coriander-crusted lamb loin with honey and mustard.
The tense final round was a pressure test in which the finalists reproduced a complicated deconstructed milk tart dessert consisting of thin pastry layers with a base of cinnamon and apple gel and piped-out milk tart filling, topped with crystallized fennel seeds and a spun sugar spiral and served with a baby basil and "appel moes" (apple purée).
As South Africa’s first-ever MasterChef, Deena received the biggest prize package in South African television history. The R8-million prize includes:
- R250 000 from Robertsons,
- a brand new Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GLS,
- a seven-day culinary experience in Italy and an Italian cookery course, courtesy of Woolworths,
- a year's supply of Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve wines and a customised sommelier course and one-on-one MasterClasses with Nederburg's cellarmaster,
- and of course, his very own Tsogo Sun restaurant, the MondoVino, at Tsogo Sun’s SunSquare Montecasino, for a period of two years!