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Passion in Cooking Led to Aurora Masterchef Win

30 Nov 2017

One of my favorite all-time movies with regards to the love of food is – Julie and Julia, in short, the film is about a New Yorker Julie Powell who is frustrated with a soul-killing job and embarks on a daring project where she takes a vow to prepare all 524 recipes in Julia Childs’ landmark cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Image by: JooHee Yoon

Intertwined with Julie’s story is the true tale of how Julia Child (Meryl Streep) herself conquered French cuisine with passion, fearlessness, and plenty of butter.  Through this journey, she learns so much about herself and learns the art of cooking as a definite recommendation for a foodie.

Growing up in an Indian household and living in the Gulf has had a huge impact on my flavor palate. Watching my mum grind her own spices and make her marinade from scratch made me realise an apron is just a cape put on backward. Living in an international society helped expand my horizon of understanding different components of every culture through their food.

An example is having the layered flavorsome chicken biryani at my Pakistani and Indian friends’ place to enjoying the bitter Turkish coffee with the sweetest Baklava, dipping my bread in one of the best hummus (chickpea dip) and baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) to having asam laksa in the streets of Penang, and so much more. The best kind of people are surely the ones who love to eat. My love for cooking has been there since I was 11 years of age, where I am able to recreate recipes and come up with my own I still remember making a pasta which was a complete and utter disaster to present. I’ve always had a keen interest in watching cooking shows such as MasterChef, Nigella Feasts, Eat Street etc. at a very early age. A friend suggested using social media as a platform to test my creativity of food and post about it which was a brilliant idea as I start my My Instagram Food page ( last year in mid-2016.` When my lecturer Dr Shamala, asked me to join her for the Aurora Masterchef Cooking Competition, I did not even bat an eyelash because this was an opportunity for me to make a dish and hear how my cooking is from people who have never tasted my food. There is a famous quote by Julia Child which goes like ‘The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile.’ At the end of the day, it is finding something that you’re truly passionate about, it could be anything and make sure you keep tremendously interested in it because I believe that cooking is an expression of who you are. So, to me, winning was the cherry on top of the cake but it was the process that I loved.

Italian food is one of my top five favorite cuisines and that being the theme was kind of perfect because when I walked in there and saw the ingredients the idea of making a fresh pesto using the beautiful basil was an obvious choice, rosemary is one of the herbs I use quite often with my meat dishes so pairing it up with the chicken breast seemed like a good choice as it is a great flavor enhancer.

I have never cooked on a timer of an hour before so definitely I was a bit pressured about it but because of my team who was great at following every instruction which made me feel like a great support system was present throughout, yes, I can be a little dominating in the kitchen, but hey, someone needs to take charge. The final dish was pasta with fresh pesto tossed in a bit of herb butter topped with an oven baked rosemary chicken and a side dish of stir fry chili garlic prawns and creamy mushroom and broccoli. Imagine being in an exam hall and writing your finals but this time your paper is being checked right in front of you, doesn’t the thought itself make you feel terrified? That was pretty much how it felt when it was my team’s turn to present our dish, my main concern was the chicken is perfectly cooked through and when the judges tasted the food and began commenting it was all positive which was a great sense of relief. Focusing on the Staff-Student bond, I can surely say it is a great way of connecting people together because I felt a lot closer to my lecturer when she said to me ‘I will message you for your recipes’, it certainly made my day for sure. I commend the team for organising such an amazing event and getting people together. I hope that such cooking competitions will continue and as a suggestion adding it to the IMU Cup will be quite interesting to watch.

Written by IMU Psychology student, Bushra Farooq from Team Pavlova (First Prize Winner of Aurora MasterChef Cooking Competition 2017)

Related article: IMU Staff and Students Compete for Aurora Masterchef Title

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