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Kamini Pather

Kamini Pather

A warm welcome and a cold beer with Kamini Pather

We’ve been sitting on this one for a while and just couldn’t keep it in any longer. We’d like to welcome a new Community Ambassador to the team, the brilliant Kamini Pather. Not only do her talents know no bounds, she’s also a pretty damn great person to enjoy an ice cold beer with. Her pursuits span across the culinary arts, running and bringing communities together. It’s a match made in heaven.

Having had followed her journey for a good few years, we couldn’t help but find a way to bring her into the Jack Black family. And now that it’s official, we sat down with her to learn a bit more about who she is and what gets her out of bed in the morning (or back into bed, but more on that later).

So Kamini, tell us a bit about yourself, starting from the top! 

Hey, I’m Kamini, pronounced like harmony with a ‘k’ (extra beer for anyone who can say it three times quickly). I’ve always believed that you truly understand a person when you share a meal with them, but since winning Master Chef, my ideas around food have changed...

It isn’t about bubbles and canapés any longer; it’s now about being able to fuel me to achieve my goals on the streets! No, no, reel it in - I’m a road runner. I found running in 2017 when I was invited to be an ambassador for the Cape Town Marathon, and I’ve never looked back. I believe that less is more, that there is no heart purer than that of an artichoke, and that dogs give the best advice.

How would you define yourself in one sentence?

‘A grapefruit was a lemon that saw a chance and took it’ - Oscar Wilde 

Can you tell us about your journey into the world of food and cooking?

Before Master Chef, I started a blog, and I would cook, photograph and write about the food that I loved. Then I would go to events and be annoying ha ha ha…. I would introduce myself to editors and anyone with ears and tell them to look at my blog to see that I could write, photograph and develop a recipe. I really wanted to be in the food world, and I didn’t know how to do it. And then I entered MasterChef South Africa and won, which gave me the platform that I'd wanted all along. 

Could you share some memorable experiences or moments from your time on MasterChef South Africa?

Our International trip was to Ethiopia, where we cooked for Haile Gebrselassie at the YaYa African Athletics Village. The training happens there because it’s at his altitude and it gives the runners an edge when they compete elsewhere. It was rough on us, though, who had been competing in the kitchen for 5 weeks without many breaks.

I remember getting to the set one morning and the tears just started rolling down my face. I am not a crier, and I had not cried on the show, but that day, I was tired, and the altitude was messing with me. Anyway, the challenge for that was that we had to cook Injera, which is an Ethiopian flatbread. I bombed, and I made it to my first elimination round in Ethiopia. 

The whole experience was incredible, and it changed my life for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever been as creative as I was during the shoot because life was centered around cooking. That was all that mattered. During the breaks, we had a library of recipe books, and I had a Moleskin journal in which I made notes. It was completely immersive - I got to be my best food-nerd self.

How do you approach the process of creating and developing recipes?

You’ve gotta set the scene. Who’s the dish for? What time of year is it? Is it an occasion? What feeling do you want the people at the table to have? Then I will think about the flavours I want to use, and consult The Flavour Thesaurus, google a few recipes, and maybe watch some content that others have created with the key dish or idea I have in mind. And then I play. 

Can you discuss any upcoming projects or ventures you're excited about?

I’m about to start shooting Ready Steady Cook, which is a first for SA TV. It’s the remake of an old show starring Ainsley Harriet that won the hearts of viewers around the world. It’s a really fun, non-serious cooking show - perfect for my style of food.

I’m also writing a cookbook this year, utilizing my Health and Nutrition Coaching knowledge. It’s a book that features healthy, Indian-inspired recipes that are quick to make, high in flavor, and mood-elevating. (Yes, these recipes will all go perfectly with beer). I want to share my health and nutrition coaching with my community because I think that eating healthily can be simple, affordable, and damn good tasting. There are easy swaps to be made and small tweaks that can turn a staple dish into something that supports longevity and lifelong swag.

What's your favourite dish to cook or indulge in, and why?

Food is like any other creative form; it’s mood dependent. Or weather-dependent or dependent on so many things for it to be the favourite dish at a specific moment! Having said that (maybe I said too much), something I cook quite often is creamy white beans with rosemary, a sinful amount of garlic and fresh chili. I serve that with a carrot top chimichurri kinda thing (it’s green, bright and olive oily) with a hunk of toasted sourdough. 

Last but not least, what’s your favourite Jack Black beer?

Again, depends on the context. I’m banking on the fact that this is a judgement-free zone, but even if it isn’t, I regret nothing. I’ve been known to get back into bed after an early morning long run with a cold beer. Sometimes it’s a Brewers Lager; sometimes it’s a Super Crush...I like to keep things interesting!

Join us in raising a pint to Kamini, whose journey into the world of food and approach to cooking, is as fun as it is flavorful. Welcome to the family, Kamini—we're excited for the adventures ahead!

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