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Shelina Permalloo wishes Dad could have seen her win MasterChef
QUEEN of the kitchen Shelina Permalloo was crowned Masterchef champion last night – and wished her late father had witnessed her triumph.
In just nine weeks Southampton-born Shelina has gone from being a home cook to champion of the BBC One show after doing battle with two other finalists.
And Shelina, a former diversity manager, dedicated her win to her family and to her dad Pran who passed away when she was just 13.
She said: “I am completely and utterly overwhelmed. I am so happy and pleased that I have been able to win by staying true to my roots. I am proud to have made my family proud – I just wish my dad could have been here to see it.”
The 29-year-old former Taunton College pupil is only the second woman to clinch the MasterChef title in the eight years the show has been running.
The final saw Shelina in a high-pressure cook-off between herself and finalists Andrew Kojima and Tom Rennolds.
They were tasked with preparing a three-course meal that would show off their skill, creativity and talent to the judges.
Her winning menu was an octopus starter, mutton curry and a dessert of mango cannelloni filled with lime curd.
Shelina said: “I was really pleased with my Mauritianinspired dishes. I just find it amazing that I was able to win with a curry.”
Shelina started cooking at a young age under the watchful eye of her mum Sheila, who still lives in Shirley.
She said: “My mum is a brilliant cook, I learnt everything from her – I’m basically her sous chef. She taught me to cook by intuition – never by using scales – always by sight and taste, so I developed a strong palate from a young age.”
A Mauritian born in the UK, Shelina’s upbringing was centred on the family sitting down and having food together every evening.
She said: “I only ate Mauritian food growing up as it gave our family that affinity of being close to the island.
“All I wanted is for John and Greg and people watching the show to fall in love with the cuisine that I have spent my whole life loving.”
Shelina will be appearing in the BBC Good Food Show at Glow, Bluewater from April 12-15. She said: “I’m nervous about cooking in front of a live audience. On MasterChef if you chop your finger off it can be edited out.
“After that I’m going to let things settle down for a while but the ultimate goal is to open a Mauritian restaurant.”
Judge Greg Wallace said: “If ever there was a restaurant that had to happen it is Shelina’s because her food is incredible.
She really does put a shine on a plate.”