Georgia’s Winning Sri Lankan Dish On Junior MasterChef Australia 2020 0 77

By Mahika Panditha

When Sri Lanka wins a cricket match, or if a Sri Lankan citizen or a person of Sri Lankan descent achieves or accomplishes anything, the whole country cheers, and celebrates in honour of them. 

Most recently, Sri Lankans all over the world had the immense joy of celebrating 11-year old superstar, Georgia, who won the Junior MasterChef Australia 2020 title. Her stunning achievement has garnered the praise of thousands of Sri Lankans, and made our very own foodies very proud.

Georgia learned to cook at the age of 3, with her first attempt being a classic scrambled eggs and toast dish. Her maternal grandparents are Sri Lankans, and her grandmother Charmaine has been credited with teaching the little super star chef how to cook Sri Lankan cuisine, which ultimately won Georgia the final. 

Georgia maintained her calm and collected manner each week, whipping up one amazing dish after another, and receiving unending praise from the judges. She was one of the 14 contestants on the show, along with Ben, Carter, Dev, Etka, Filo, Laura, Phenix, Porsha, Ruby, Ryan, Salvo, Tiffany and Vienna, who beat over 2,000 young chefs during the auditions. Whilst all the young chefs competed as best they could; only Georgia, Carter and Filo made it to the final race, watched over by talented judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen. 

In the final episodes of the challenge, the young finalists were truly put to the test. The semi-final pressure test gave them maybe a tad over two hours to make a lemon meringue ‘Coronavirus’, (the dessert, not the pandemic!), which was originally made by the world famous pastry chef, Kirsten Tibballs. 

The finale however was where the fun really began though. Of course, we all know that Georgia took home the trophy, and impressed both the judges and her mother, with the two-course fine-dining meal she made, but this is how it all went down.

Let’s set the scene. There was an orchestra playing tense music whilst the kids cooked, and to make it even more hectic for them their parents too were there watching them. The challenge was all about fancy dining. Each of the contestants had to make a two-course meal that to serve four people, inclusive of a main, and a dessert. The choice of dishes was theirs as long as it was suitable for fine-dining. 

If you look back to past seasons, most participants when faced with fine-dining have gravitated straight to French food, or the smallest dish possible that would probably cost absurd amounts. However, each of the contestants decided to highlight the pride they felt in their individual culture and heritage which shone through in their final dishes. 

The contestants were given 90 minutes, and while Filo made fried shrimp and Egyptian spicy rice, and Carter made a super complex lamb and peas meal, our darling Georgia made a trio of curries including pork curry, cashew curry and eggplant curry alongside cucumber raita, papadums and rice. Initially she feared that she had spread herself too thin, but judge Jock Zonfrillo noted she was just ahead of her competitors after the tasting, which had in fact truly wowed all the judges.

Up next, the 90 minute dessert course. Filo produced a hazelnut cake with a mirror glaze, crumble and strawberry sorbet, while Carter made a beautiful vanilla bean panna cotta paired with raspberry sorbet and chocolate soil. However, Georgia turned out a unique dessert which she called ‘Tropical Mess’ – toasted coconut ice cream, brown bread crumbs, plum pearls, plum meringues and a lemongrass granita. 

Unfortunately, during her prep she had faced a little bit of trouble as the components of her dish were not cooperating and the dish fell apart. After a quick hug from her mom and some wise words of encouragement, she got back into it and managed to serve it up just right. 

Georgia’s maturity however had been on display throughout the competition in how she handled her troubles previously, having been noted for saying “I always try to get everything right, but that’s not how life works”. The judges paid very little attention to the look of the dish but rather to the taste and flavours of it, with Andy even mentioning that he did not even care what it looked like because it was delicious. It sure was enough to secure her win!

After the finale, Jock wrote on his Instagram, “I’ve never met an 11 yr old so respectful of others, polite, and with such a passion and understanding of food. Your balance of flavours, taste and technique are well beyond your years. We were truly grateful to eat your delicious food time and time again, and for you to share your heritage and family with us”. Later on, Andy Allen added “Your passion to seek perfection is well beyond your age and you’re going to be something very special in years to come”. Melissa Leong also shared a heart-warming message for the young chef later on after the finale posting, “Georgia. At 11, you are already out-classing kids twice your age in wisdom, self-possession and grace (and obviously culinary talent). I am in awe of everything you bring to the table, and I am just so goddamn hopeful with you as our future. Congratulations little one, you did it!”

Georgia went home with the title, a trophy, a cash prize of AUS $25,000, and the biggest smile. To sum up her experience, Georgia says “Junior MasterChef is the best experience I have ever had.” 

The young chef told the Daily Mail Australia that she has no plans for the money as of yet, but she would most likely use it when she is older as she would like to travel and try other cuisines. She added that she would also like to taste the other curries available as she has only had her grandma’s so far! 

 

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“Phenomenal Woman” Jessica Heath 0 1655

There is a sensational rhythm to her walk, the way she speaks, even her actions in the kitchen. She has her own styles and characteristics. Born to an American father and a Sri Lankan mother, she is blessed with a glowing beauty, stimulating smile and of course her long legs earns bewildered looks from those in the vicinity. 

Being in the top 40 contestants of season 8 MasterChef USA, beating 50,000 plus contestants and enduring a five-month audition process, Jessica introduced some of the Sri Lankan cuisines with a touch of sophistication to them. 

Strongly influenced by her grandmother, a Dutch-Burgher descent, who guided Jessica’s culinary journey with her expert hands, Jessica recalls about her childhood with unity, laughter and the sweet aroma emanating from the kitchen as her grandma concocted the most flavorful dishes. 

 “CEYLOVE; From Sri Lanka with Spice” written by Jessica is indeed a treat to all food lovers. The book perfectly conveys her admiration and respect for her inheritance and mother’s homeland through a collection of family recipes, stories, travels and life experiences. Her culinary makings draw on her Sri Lankan origins as well as her fashion and modeling background. She focuses on providing modern and fresh takes to traditional Sri Lankan dishes, often fusing with other cuisines from around the world. 

What is quite special about this book is that 90% of its photographs and designs were done by her. “Sri Lankan food should come first” Jessica said admiring Sri Lankan cuisine. 

Having graced the covers and billboards of the world, BiZnomics takes pride in speaking to this amazing woman who took our own Sri Lankan cuisine to the global platform;

I tried my best to show people that eating Sri Lankan food carries a host of pleasures, from style, color, aroma, ambience, and pleasurable palate from fingers to mouth contact – eating with our hands.

Q&A With – Jessica Heath

Q; What made you want to take part in MasterChef?

A; It was an incredible opportunity that literally came right to my doorstep. The auditions happened to be right in the heart of Washington DC, my hometown, so I jumped at the chance to showcase my Sri Lankan culinary skills.

Q: How did you know you had what it takes to become a Master Chef?

A: Sometimes in life you never know anything for certain, yet there is burning desire to move forward and try. It is your inner voice that says ‘I can do this’. You survey the competition and innately know you have what it takes. That is essentially what happened to me. It helped that I had the knowledge of an exceptionally colorful cuisine under my belt.

Cont..

Subscribe to BiZnomics magazine for full article

By: Chantal D.
Image courtesy: Tish De Alwis, Mauriel Silva
Cover Picture: Tish De Alwis
Post Production: Dilsh
Book Cover Picture: Prishan Pandithage

BE BOLD; LIVE ‘YOUR’ LIFE – Let’s ask ourselves; Our awaken selves as to whose life are we living 0 1186

 


Bradley Emerson

Way back in 1981 there was this movie that I watched at the theater called the New Olympia. The name of the movie was “Whose Life Was It Anyway”, and believe me there were only about 8 people in the cinema. Actually, the movie made a loss of around US$ 5million; it was produced in 1981 at a cost of US$13 million, and it only collected US$ 8.2 million in the box office. Hence it was a massive loss. But it got me thinking. The movie was about a man who was suffering from a terminal illness and was dying. The hospital authorities kept him alive with the aid of a machine. The patient was asking the doctors to take him off the machine and let him die, but the doctors said. “No, we cannot”. So he was arguing and even went to court in the movie to get the courts to order the hospital to take him off the machine and to let him die. He was asking “whose life is it anyway”.

While in the movie the whole court proceedings got me thinking as to whose life do we really live? Whose manifest is it that we really reflect in our lives? Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously we find people imposing expectations on us.

There is a very interesting book written by Bronnie Ware. She authored a book named, ‘The Top 5 Regrets of The Dying’. Very interesting findings with the topmost regret of the people dying identified as saying“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself”.I wish I had lived a life that was true to me, means they were living someone else’s manifest. When you try to live what someone else is expecting from you, you don’t bother to discover your potential and as a result, you end up living under potential and then you look back at your life and say“oh hell! What have I done with my life?”

The second one is“I wish I hadn’t worked hard”.People were saying they were putting so much into work and they did not have the time to live. Aren’t we all at what we call our ‘peak’ and guilty of this? We miss out on time with our children, watch them grow, miss out time with nature and most importantly we miss out time with ourselves.

The third regret they had was,“I wish I had the courage to express my feelings”. How many times we hold back being absolutely candid and open about expressing our feelings because we are scared it will affect relationships, we’re scared to be seen crazy, we’re scared to be ridiculed by people, so we don’t express our feelings. Isn’t it better for one to be true to him or herself than trying to please someone else?

The fourthregret being, “I wish I stayed in touch with our friends”, which we all know would result in more laughter. Think about it; really ask yourself how many minutes in a day there is (which is 24X60 minutes) and how much do you spend of that time each day to laugh! You don’t really look at life and what it does to your system when you laugh.

And the fifth regret of the dying people is,“I wish that I helped myself to be happier”. Now think about that line. We see lives of people who are rich, who are ‘well to do’, and we envy them thinking that they are happy. Some of these people, who said that I wish I was happier,were filthy rich people so it’s not wealth that makes you happy. If you go back on the entire equation of happiness, you’re asking, “What is it that I have missed out in my life? As you look back, your happiness is when you took all the chances that helped you learn what makes you happy. If you have missed out when you look back then you regret that. We look back only to find how many chances we missed out not physically but more in wisdom, more in capacity, more in humanity and more in value for life. How much of those have we missed out, we look back with regret. And how much have we achieved – here achievement is to your potential. Often achievement is looked at materialistically. As a result, live a material life and you think you have achieved everything when you have a couple of houses, fancy vehicles and traveletc.etc..But then people, who did all that,are the ones who looked back at their lives and said “I haven’t lived happily”.

So what then manifest happiness?
When you don’t live your potential, then you ought to become self-aware that you have not made use of what you could really do to humanity; that you have not made use of the opportunity to optimize your human potential; that you have not made use of every touch point to make a difference to somebody else’s life. To me that is what achievement is all about. We look back(if we bother to) and regret that “I have missed out on my learning opportunities; I have missed out on my growth opportunities; I have missed out on my achieving opportunities.”

When this happens, you live a regretful life. Because, when you look back you ask as to whose life did you live? See, most of the people who impose on you and expect you to do something, who are those have failed to achieve it. We sometimes do this to our children. We try to get them to do what we have failed to achieve. It’s unfair sometimes to impose onto our children things beyond what they want to do or beyond what they like to do and more dangerously, beyond what the child is capable of doing. I know of parents who take their children for almost every possible extra-curricular activity. When they wake up on a Saturday morning they start with swimming then ballet then music then singing then with sports. Where is that child’s childhood? Why are we programming them to do what we want instead of giving them the time to enjoy their childhood? Let’s ask ourselves -our awaken selves as to whose life are we living. Every time, (I mean you will have a number of times) people are trying to impose things on you and if you’re conscious you will capture that and then you pause, you listen and you ask what is exactly that this guy wants. More importantly you would have the audacity to say, ‘hello, this is not what I want to do’, ‘this is not what I’m made to do’. ‘This is not what I look back as an accomplishment’. ‘This is not helping my growth’.‘This is not helping me achieve my potential’. ‘This is not helping me learn’.

If we can pause and ask this, we begin to align our actions on a daily basis as to what our life is all about and what our lives can become. We always live the life as it comes but what we ought to be awakened to live the life that we can truly become because there’s so much unfound within us. So if you awaken yourself to yourself and then identify where you have lost your opportunity to learn, where you have lost your opportunity to grow, where you have lost your opportunity to achieve potential to yourself then you are living your life.

My thought for,or rather the challenge to you is to ask yourself whose life is it anyway. Remember the movie I talked about earlier. You can’t even take your own life when people say “no, it’s not your life”. Go get hold of yourself, get hold of Bronnie Ware’s book if you can. Have a look at that book which is available online and see that you don’t die with regrets because we have only one life. We need to look back with a sense of accomplishments that we lived a life true to ourselves. Hope it makes sense, hope it got you thinking, hope it’ll awaken you, and make you Bold to live YOUR life.

BY: Bradley Emerson