Jason and I met at the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant on a cold and windy Cape Town day. Seated by the fire place Jason tells me of his remarkable journey to eventually finishing the MasterChef South Africa competition in 5th place. Jason says; “I surpassed all expectations of myself by getting the phone call to say that I was going to Joburg for the Hot Auditions Round, so making it to the Top 5 was an absolutely incredible feeling! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will cherish forever. I met some amazing people along the way, got to travel to Ethiopia and have made a few friends for life! I also learnt a great deal about cooking and myself; life lessons that I will no doubt use going forward.”
Jason speaks of his MasterChef experience with a glint of passion in his eyes. The most valuable lesson I learned on MasterChef is to have more confidence in my abilities and to be proud of what I have produced and achieved. He tells me of his admiration for British Chef and owner of a cookery empire, Prue Leith describing the opportunity to cook for her as a challenging, exciting and humbling dream. It was an amazing challenge to turn home style truly South African ingredients, like corn and maize porridge, into something that would impress a Michelin Star Chef.
I asked Jason about the MasterChef process, from the beginning to the point where he ended up in the Top 6.
Jasons dad supported his dream to audition for MasterChef; He always supported us to take the leap of faith and ride the wave. The auditions started on 3 January and filming wrapped when Kamini Pather won the competition in February this year. The show went into post production and aired on MNet for the first time on 20 March with the final show on 11 September.
The MasterChef auditions are tough. About 200 entrants took part in the Cape Town Cold Auditions and had to plate a prepared dish after which it was judged by professional judges if the South African Chefs Association. If you do well in this round you are invited to a one on one interview followed by the completion of an extensive questionnaire. Jason explained.
This was followed by another interview and this is where Jason first met MasterChef SA judge Pete Geoff-Wood. Jason made it through to the Top 100 with the Hot Auditions held in Johannesburg. Contestants had 45 min to create and plate a dish which was then presented to Pete Geoff-Wood, BennyMasekwameng and Andrew Atkinson for judging.
The 50 contestants who remained after this round was sent to the Boot Camp round which was more a skills and pressure test.
Jason says that one of his proudest moments and the moment he realized he was following the right path was when, during the Boot Camp challenge, Pete Geoff-Wood commented on the breakfast Jason has prepared that it was the type of meal he would have expected to be served at a top restaurant.
This young extreme sports enthusiast and fly-fisherman is a UCT graduate in BSc Construction Studies who matriculated from Wynberg Boys High in 2007. After his gap year Jason started waitering at the well-respected restaurant La Colombe. Jason says that this is where he learned what he knows about food and especially his very strong kitchen asset plating a beautifully constructed plate of food.
Prior to working at La Colombe Jason had absolutely no kitchen experience. His talent is completely natural which makes him so exceptional. To have done so well in a nationally televised cooking competition with so little prior hands-on experience is a huge achievement and I believe that Jason will go very far as his formidable talent develops and matures.