and shout MasterChef winners Ping Coombes and Shelina Permalloo tell how to put a spin on classic dishes that uses activated charcoal: “The pastry turns jet black, it still tastes the same, but it looks completely different.”
It’s about being clever, not completely overhauling an entire iconic dish, she explains: “Don’t go overboard. Keep the core flavours, but then maybe add one or two ingredients that you love, or are a bit unusual, or make it look different.”
“The whole point is: How can we elevate a normal homecooked meal into something a bit more MasterCheffy?” adds Shelina. “Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily need to be about the technical skills involved, for me, it’s about a true balance of flavour that can take something from being ordinary, to being sublime.” Shelina Permalloo, above, and Ping Coombes, right being a MasterChef champion, having been a home cook, and then suddenly people expecting you to be this professional cook within 24 hours of winning.”
“It’s the challenge to be taken seriously,” she explains. “You’re kind of in between a home cook and a professional cook, and you have to get through that.”
Since winning the show, Shelina has written two cookbooks and worked in Michelin star restaurants, and has opened her own joint, Lakaz Maman. “It’s a real whirlwind as soon as you leave the show and start experiencing what it’s like to work in a professional kitchen,” she recalls. “You sink or swim really, really quickly.”
MasterChef: The Classics With A Twist (left) is published by DK, priced £25. Photos by David Loftus.