Q&A: Kamini Pather, food blogger

Kamini Pather
Kamini Pather (Image: Supplied)

Kamini Pather was born in Born in Mobeni Heights, Chatsworth, KwaZulu Natal. She is a food blogger and radio DJ from Mobeni Heights and Isipingo. She is the winner of the South African MasterChef 2013 competition.

Tell us about yourself?
I’m a generally hungry soul. That could be why I had no choice but to learn how to cook what my head desired because it isn’t often that someone else can create the taste that I crave. And yes, it is usually a craving.

What does  South African food mean to you?
Cuisine that is multi-faceted, that can find its way onto banquet tables and picnic blankets alike. If you are what you eat then South African food is deliciously rough around the edges and 100% memorable.

What is one of the first things you crave to eat when you a away from home?
I’m not one of those people who leaves the country with a bag of chips or hot sauce. The point of travel is to widen the horizon of ones mind and palate. That can only be done if you immerse yourself into the food culture of the destination.

What’s your favorite food to make at home?
Whether is it fish or chicken or beef, I adore making puree’s. It’s really simple to make – quickly cooked vegetable with stock and cold butter – but it adds a warmth that is so important to the satisfaction value of food. I’ve even used vegetable purees as pasta sauce instead of the usual tomato or cream bases

If you could prepare only one last meal, what would it be?
No, no, NO! If it was my last meal I would need at least 6 courses. Come on! Also, keep in mind that since this is my last meal, eating ALL the carbs doesn’t count. This is my comfort food final meal fantasy. I would start with gruyere and truffle oil risotto balls, followed by a 3 cheese mac & cheese with oven roasted rosa tomatoes and crispy bacon, my mum’s Keralan coconut crab curry, a slice of Neapolitan pizza with buffalo mozzarella and nduja (pig cheek sausage with spicy peppers) and basil, caramelised pigs tongue with edamame beans I ate in Sydney on Girl Eat World, Kunafa a Dubaian dessert with a mozzarella-like cheese based that is topped with colourful crisp vermicelli noodles and doused in a sugar syrup. I could really go on because I would also want a provocatively wobbly yogurt panna cotta, salted caramel ice-cream ad of course all the bubbly in long-stemmed glassware.

What is the wildest thing you’ve ever eaten?
It was on this trip, actually. I ate a 17 Day Embryo Egg in the Thai area of Sydney. It’s a fertilised duck egg that has been allowed to germinate for 17 days. I cracked it open and took a bite of what I didn’t know was the placenta. I didn’t go any further. It’s a mass of soft bones and beak. The texture of the dish is quite gnarly. Not for the faint hearted.

What is the best restaurant that no one’s ever heard of?
I ate some of the best food of my life at street stalls in Lima and Bangkok. There are names I will never remember, places that only exist to the people who cue at dust for dishes that often don’t have names (unless you speak Spanish and Thai). It isn’t about the venue, it’s about what lands on the plate that really counts.
What would you be doing if you couldn’t be a chef?
I don’t consider myself to be a chef. Chef’s work night after night serving the same dish to customers. I am a cook and very happy to be one. My title as a TV-chef is me living my dream. If I wasn’t doing this I would be working toward doing exactly this.

What is the most memorable food city in the world?
Copenhagen was quite special because the Danish or Nordick society is all focussed on sustainability. It’s incredible to see their farm-to-table mentality and how it is entrenched in everything that they do and serve. Dishes like the open sandwich with pickled herring and slices of radish that are expertly sliced and served with home-brewed beer. Their porridge-only restaurant that served spelt porridge that has been sous vide over night and topped with nuts and fruit sugar or their foraging app that shows people where to find certain berries – it’s conscious living at its best.

Do you have any regrets professionally?
I always knew that I was never made for there at race, the 9-5 drudgery of my forefathers. I wish I had had the courage to be able to follow what I really felt earlier.