Armed with noth­ing but their raw talent, the Food­shala fi­nal­ists pre­pare to bat­tle it out in the kitchen

Friday - - EDITOR'S LETTER - Pho­tos by den­nis B Mal­lari Text by shreeja Ravin­dranathan

The fi­nal­ists are re­vealed, plus the judges’ recipes.

T hey’ve been whit­tled down from the 400-plus con­tes­tants who au­di­tioned for

Food­shala – the hottest TV re­al­ity show in the Mid­dle East – and now the fi­nal 12 are bat­tling it out in the kitchen. With prizes worth more than Dh30,000 and the cov­eted ti­tle at stake, Fri­day caught up with 11 of the fi­nal dozen to dis­cover how they’re cop­ing with the heat in the kitchen. Let the food wars com­mence!

Jessy Mathews

46, a fi­nan­cial ac­coun­tant based in shar­jah

I ’m not much of TV per­son and had never seen any of the pre­vi­ous sea­sons of Food­shala but my kids, Amy, 18, Han­nah, 15, and Aaron, 11, read about it in Fri­day and sug­gested I au­di­tion. They love my cook­ing and have been en­cour­ag­ing me to par­tic­i­pate in cook­ery con­tests. I took along Fri­day’s golden ticket to fast-track me, so I was the third con­tes­tant.

I made a cab­bage roll stew that was a vari­a­tion of a tra­di­tional Ker­alite dish called ishtu. At the au­di­tions, Chef Alexio Pasquali put me at ease with his kind words and once Chef Ak­shay Nay­yar tasted my dish, he stood up and shook my hand. I was very pleased and it was a val­i­da­tion of my culi­nary skills.

Cook­ing is a real pas­sion for me and it’s some­thing I don’t take lightly. Al­though I have a ca­reer, I en­joy cook­ing for friends ev­ery weekend.

One piece of ad­vice about food that I cher­ish was given to me by my grand­mom. She said, “If you cook with love and with­out burn­ing the dish, your food will be noth­ing short of ex­cel­lent.” It’s some­thing I firmly be­lieve in and would like to share with oth­ers.

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