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Central African Rep
Must Watch Videos
Official MasterChef SA site
Lungi's recipe collection
Interview: Lungi from MasterChef SA
Jason von Berg & Joseph Mosselson | Thu, 05 Jul 2012
Lungi's departure on Tuesday night was heartbreaking for many fans of
MasterChef South Africa
. We caught up with the bubbly fan-favourite to ask her about her experinces on the show and what she's up to next.
DStvO: You got pretty emotional during your last challenge on the show. What was it like to be under pressure in that moment?
It was a different experience because I hadn’t really been in a pressure test for a while. You start forgetting what it’s like to be under immense pressure, apart from the ordinary pressure you feel every day from the kitchen. It was added pressure having Michel Roux Jr there as well, at some point it became very overwhelming.
D: More generally, what was it like being in that kitchen and doing all those challenges? Especially from your perspective as the youngest contestant?
It was more fun than pressure, because one got to be innovative and creative and come up with different ideas all the time.
It challenged your mind as well; you felt a bit of pressure but more excitement to be able to come up with something new every day and see what would be thrown at you.
D: What was your favourite challenge or your favourite moment on the show?
My favourite challenge was Zanzibar. It was so refreshing to be cooking in a different environment to the MasterChef Kitchen. It wasn’t just about cooking for a few people, it was a different market and a different group of people and different surroundings.
Check out Lungi's recipe for squid in Zanzibar spices.
D: You seemed to bring a great energy to all the challenges you approached. Is what we saw onscreen the real Lungi?
What you saw on MasterChef was definitely me; the random singing and shouting, just going in there and having fun. That’s how I like to enter anything I start. I like to enter with a positive attitude, I want to have fun with everything I do so that people can see me within my food.
Cooking is a very personal thing, because it’s coming up with your own ideas and allowing someone to be critical of something that you thought up.
D: What’s your favourite thing to cook?
I enjoy cooking any kind of fish. Whether it’s just lightly searing it or cooking it through, [I enjoy] thinking of different ways of enhancing the flavour or thinking of odd combinations that will go well.
It’s a very delicate thing to cook so I enjoy the challenge of that.
D: What’s an important tip for people who want to cook fish?
Look for flavours and ingredients that will highlight the flavour of the fish and not mask it. It’s very easy to add things to it that you think will add robust flavour. Meanwhile it’s such a subtle, gentle flavour that you want to get through, while still adding something different.
Lungi's prawn curry with sambals, fruit and bread.
D: What did you find most challenging about your MasterChef experience?
I think the most challenging thing would be my age. No-one actually said it or put pressure on me, but I put pressure on myself to prove myself because my age was such a big factor: being one of the youngest contestants and having to show that I am worthy of being there.
D: Do you feel like you have proved yourself now?
I definitely feel like I have proved myself. I think I left the competition comfortable knowing that people were no longer focusing on my age but on my cooking ability.
D: What was your favourite dish that you cooked during the show?
I think my favourite dish would probably have to be the pig tails. It was the most challenging because it was something I had never done before. The fact that I got to bring some personal, cultural element to it just made me really happy and the result that I got from it made it worthwhile. It was the most challenging and the most rewarding.
Lungi's Pork tails with chakalaka and ugeqe.
D: What was the vibe like between the contestants behind the scenes? Did you guys get very competitive or were you all quiet supportive of each other?
I think it’s natural to be competitive, but it was never an ugly competitive. We were supportive of each other because we wanted to compete against the best. You want to make sure that everyone is at their best and knows as much as they need to know, so that you are competing against a person at their strongest. You want to know that you actually progressed because you were better and did well.
D: Do you still keep in touch with any of your fellow contestants?
Yes, we keep in touch quiet a lot. It’s nice, because we formed friendships that you weren’t thinking you’d form, because you have the mentality of “I’m going into a competition, I’m going in there to just beat [the others] and I’m going to be focused”. You don’t go in there thinking “I’m going to make friends” and you actually come out with such great friendships.
D; Do you have any gossip for us about the judges?
The judges are so different from what you see on camera. They’re so much more supportive and they really have got your best interests at heart in everything they do and tell you.
They may come across like they’re being very critical but it’s coming from a good place.
D: Was is scary to stand before them, at the beginning at least?
Right through. As much as you know that they’re good people, it’s still a daunting experience going and presenting your plate. Cooking for a lot of people on the show is very personal, because they specifically ask you to put yourself on the plate. So when someone is critical of that it’s a very daunting thing.
D: I follow the show on twitter every week and you were definitely one of the favourites. Were you surprised at the reception you got when you left?
It was overwhelming. I knew that I did have some sort of a following on twitter and there were a lot of supporters, but when everything started flooding in after [Tuesday’s] show¸ I was extremely touched and very moved by how involved they get with the show.
You almost feel like they have a personal involvement with your journey; you have people that can remember every single dish you cooked. So it was a great feeling.
D: You left the show on a high note. What have you been up to since then?
I left the show very humbled and happy. My heart was at peace with the decision and everything that happened. I just recently started working at Media24 as a junior food editor for Drum Magazine. So I’ve been very busy with that, trying to deliver the best I can.
D: Our very own Siba (from
Cooking with Siba
) started out as food editor for Drum. Any hopes to follow in her footsteps, maybe host your own show one day?
If the opportunity did come around I definitely wouldn’t turn it down. Just from the MasterChef experience alone one gets to know what goes into putting together a TV show. It’s hard work, but at the end of the day it has such good rewards.
D: What sort of show would it be?
I think it would be a vibrant show. I’d like to continue in high spirits, being vibrant and colourful. Continuing with food that I enjoy, that I would like people to experience and transforming food into something that any person of any age can do and not be inhibited by feeling that you’re too young or too old to try something.
D: Michel Roux gave you an invitation to go see him in London. Any plans to do that?
I would definitely love to take him up on his offer. If I happen to find myself in London I will be knocking on his door.
D: And anything else you’ve got going on?
At the moment it’s very busy with Drum and work and compiling new recipes and testing them out.
D: When will we be able to see your recipes?
Probably in mid-August.
D: Now that you’re a role model for young people who want to cook, what have you been telling them?
From when MasterChef started I’ve noticed how many young people follow the show. The one thing I tell them is to follow your passion. Do what you love to do and know that it should be fulfilling to you first, before anything else. If you can, follow your passion and use any criticism you get, and don't let it hinder you.
For more about Lungi, including video highlights of her time on the show, check out
MasterChef South Africa
Video: Masterchef - the MSC Opera edition
MCSA: Lungi leaves
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