We’ll get to the point. The Food Consulate at Velachery is bringing down MasterChef Renae Smith for a two-day workshop from Australia. Having already been to India to participate in Mumbai’s Good Food Show and to cook at the Ultra High Lounge in Bengaluru, she is quite kicked about her first trip to Chennai. “The last time I was in India, I learnt to make pav bhaji which I now make every few weeks,” says Smith, who will be showcasing dishes that have something to do with her MasterChef experience. “The squid with red pepper sauce is from the episode where I cut my finger and ended up with stitches. This is the dish I was trying to make but ran out of time during the injury. I will finally get to share it. On top of that we have the chocolate chilli fondant that I made in the Mexican challenge that unfortunately meant my friend Colin was eliminated,” she shares.
Ask her for pointers and she starts with her first rule of baking. “Relax. Everyone thinks baking is a scientific art form, but if you relax and remember the basics, you can have fun.” Her second lesson is something that many of us fail to realise. “I think techniques are the basis of cooking, not recipes. I will teach participants basic egg skills such as souffle, custards and tart fillings. Then we have a pastry element where they will learn short crust pastry skills. There is also the basic cheats pasta, which is handy if you don’t have a lot of time,” she says. And what about lessons she has learnt on MasterChef? “I learnt to trust myself and be confident. As far as my cooking goes, I learnt that I was a better cook than I thought I was, and learnt to experiment and not to be scared of cooking with my head, instead of a recipe,” she shares.
While Smith is known to participate in events that promote vegetarianism (she was the ambassador for Meat-Free Week this year), she insists it’s only to promote a consciousness when eating. “I realise that due to economic or even demographic reasons, many people cannot live a vegan diet. A lot of work goes into making sure your vegan diet still provides you all the nutrients you need. I am able to do it in Sydney as I have access to incredible produce,” she reasons. “I think if everyone knew the alternatives to things like meat and dairy, then the world would be a better place,” Smith concludes.
The Cook & Bake with MasterChef Renae Smith takes place on September 26-27. Priced at Rs 2,500 per head and Rs 3,500 per couple for the demo and Rs 12,222 for the bake along. Details: 9962966066