By Natalia Ningthoujam
"MasterChef Australia" 2015 winner Billie McKay had a chance to work with some of her Indian counterparts, and she found them almost obsessive.
"It's my first time here (in India). Hopefully, I will get to come back here for a holiday," McKay told IANS in New Delhi.
"I love cooking Indian dishes. I try to make different types of curries and breads. They are really fun. I need to fine-tune my Indian cooking skills," she said.
On working with some of the Indian chefs, she said: "Their passion shows through all of their work... how passionate the chefs are. It's almost obsessive, which is a good thing."
"I think you have to be (obsessive) when you are working with chocolates. If you are not a little bit obsessive about chocolates, it just wouldn't work," added the chef with a sweet tooth.
Luxury chocolate brand Fabelle collaborated with McKay as its first global mentor for Societe De Chocolat masterclasses. She, along with Fabelle master chocolatiers, hosted a series of four masterclasses last week, recreating some of Australia's most iconic desserts like Ice Cream Sandwich with master chocolatier Ruby (ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru); Lamington with master chocolatier Bhumika (ITC Maratha, Mumbai); Pavlova with master chocolatier Sreyoshi (ITC Maurya, Delhi) and Chocolate Ripple Cake with master chocolatier Deepthi (ITC Chola, Chennai).
She loves sweets so much that she would like to own a bakery some day. "That's the dream... to open my own space, most likely sweets," she said.
How much has her life changed since she clinched the "MasterChef Australia" title in 2015?
"A lot. When I was crowned the winner, I was offered a job to work at The Fat Duck in England. I learnt a lot of skills, gained knowledge, did a little bit of travelling and experienced more food. After spending eight months there, I returned to Australia and continued to cook," said McKay.
So, is participating in a reality show the best way to make dreams come true?
"It's certainly one way. That's how it happened for me -- but I think it's more about following your passion. That's the way to reach those dreams," she said.
Cookery shows mean a lot of pressure on the contestants, who have to plate up the perfect dish within a few minutes or get to hear harsh remarks from the judges. Apart from the ones for the adults, there are cooking competition shows for children too. Isn't it unhealthy for them?
"It depends on each individual. If they are chasing their dreams, it's always a great thing, no matter what sort of avenue they go down, whether it is the TV or in the kitchen, but certainly that makes me happy... seeing the younger generation doing that.
"People tell me that their children were inspired by 'MasterChef Australia' to start cooking."
A lot of industries are often dominated by men. What's her take on the hospitality industry? Would she call it male-dominated too?
"That is the thought that it is male dominated, but I don't think that takes away how well the females do in the industry. I think it just needs less focus on male or female and more on the success of the individuals. So I'd rather associate it with skills and professionalism, and not on whether you are a male or a female," she said.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)