Georgia’s Winning Sri Lankan Dish On Junior MasterChef Australia 2020 0 213

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them maybe a tad over two hours to make a lemon meringue ‘Coronavirus’, (the dessert, not the pandemic!), which was originally made by the world famous pastry chef, Kirsten Tibballs.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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Majestic Kovils – Aura of stillness, dedicated to spirituality 0 778

Majestic Kovils – Aura of stillness, dedicated to spirituality

By: Savannah Audrey

Source: Wikipedia

A Hindu temple is a symbolic house, seat and body of God. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism. The symbolism and structure of a Hindu temple are rooted in Vedic traditions, deploying circles and squares.

Majestic Kovils – Aura of stillness, dedicated to spiritualityA Hindu temple is popularly known as Mandiram, Devaalayam or Devastanam, meaning the shrine, abode or place of God.

For the people on earth the Hindu Temple serves as a sacred place (devasthanam) or a place of pilgrimage (thirthasthalam) and heaven on earth. Functionally it brings gods and humans together and gives them an opportunity to help each other.

 

Majestic Kovils – Aura of stillness, dedicated to spirituality

Humans make offerings to the Gods and nourish them with food and devotional offerings of prayers, songs, etc., while the gods reciprocate by protecting them from diseases, misfortunes and calamities, removing their difficulties, cleansing their sins or helping them achieve the four aims of human life namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

 

Majestic Kovils – Aura of stillness, dedicated to spirituality

Hinduism has a long tradition and is the oldest religion in Sri Lanka. More than 2000 years of civilization has been proved so far from Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. Hinduism is dominant in the North and Eastern Provinces, where there are predominantly Tamil people. Hinduism is also practiced in the central regions (where there are a significant numbers of Indian Tamil descent) as well as in many other parts as well.

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“Phenomenal Woman” Jessica Heath 0 1887

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.

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