The taste of fame

Culinary talk

The taste of fame
She may be new to the culinary world but she has mastered it all (pun intended). Elena Duggan was the winner of the 2016 series of ‘Masterchef Australia’ and earned acclaim for her cooking that is as cheerful and exciting as she is.

She was recently in the city on behalf of Gold Rush for the ‘World On A Plate’ event at VR Mall. She spoke to Anila Kurian about her thoughts on India and more.

Why did you want to be a part of such an event?
It’s actually a combination of things that came together at the right time. When I was part of Masterchef, I stayed with an Indian, Nidhi,  and she taught me a lot about the cuisine here. Over time, I grew more interested in it and wanted to learn more. It was too good an opportunity to miss.

How do you combine Australian and Indian cuisine together?
I use a lot of spices in my cooking anyway but it’s through recent research that I learnt to use them in different stages of cooking. I used it as a layer earlier, but now I know that addition of the spices at different stages brings a new dimension to the dish. It’s quite amazing.

Any ingredients you want to take back home?
(Laughs) Yes, that’s why I packed light! I loved how there are mountains of spices displayed in shops. I am definitely taking back the different colours of turmeric, some chocolates I haven’t tried before and a few varieties of rice.

Did you have any culture shock when you landed?
I was somewhat prepared, to be honest. It was a long drive from the airport into the city and I could see that the driver was getting frustrated. But I took it as a slow tour and observed everything on the way.

Any funny incidents?
Oh, yes! Once while trying to get into a shopping centre, we found a cow blocking the entrance. It was cool though.

What’s your favourite food memory?
Just before my grandmother passed away when I was 12 years old, my whole family came together for a Christmas feast. Everybody brought something and it was the last meal we all had together in a long time. There was plenty of seafood, fresh fruits and local ingredients.

Do you have a favoured kitchen gadget?
A mandoline. I can make a salad in about 30 seconds thanks to that.

And your least favourite?
I don’t have one like that but I’m not a fan of big and bulky equipment when cooking. That’s probably because I try to make almost everything from scratch, the traditional way.

According to you, what’s the next big thing in the food industry?
I think it’s the global focus on reducing waste. There are different ways in which many are adopting this concept. For example, in Australia, there is a charity programme where one can go into a supermarket and take the fruits and vegetables they want. You pay only if you can
afford it. 

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