Genevieve Vieira
2 minute read
20 Oct 2014
7:00 pm

Claire Allen says goodbye to MasterChef

Genevieve Vieira

'All three chickens taste the same," judge Benny Mase-kwameng complained, bringing Claire Allen's MasterChef journey to an end.

Claire is an ambitious young entrepreneur who owns her own events company in Cape Town. Picture: Supplied.

As the first back-to-back elimination of the season, contestants were given a new invention test: create a beautiful family dish using the entire chicken – skin, white meat, dark meat … all of it.

Not particularly fond of giblets and under immense pressure, Allen settled for a chicken-three- ways dish with fried chicken breasts, chicken ballantine’s, stuffed with her granny’s chicken stuffing, and some sticky, sweet chicken wings.

Her “Aha” moment came much later though. Looking back, she says: “I didn’t cook my dish. I make a lovely roast chicken with mash potatoes, which is what I should have made on the show.

“It had been a tough day in the kitchen for all of us, but I outcooked myself. Caught in the moment, you start doubting your instinct, worrying about what the judges might think. You have to cook from the heart. You can’t overthink the challenge. It’s one of the most important lessons I took from the show – and it applies to all areas of life.”

Though her decision to enter the competition was a spur of the moment thing – the events organiser had been researching cooking courses when the Masterchef advertisement appeared on television – she acknowledges it as a life-changing experience.

“The only thing I can say to people is to try. Even those who don’t think they’re good enough – whatever it may be, Idols, a school play – give it a go. You have nothing to lose.

“The fact that I made it to the top nine is validation that I can cook. While I would have loved to win the overall competition, that validation was all I needed.”

Despite bidding farewell to MasterChef, Allen’s passion for food lives on. The 27-year-old has launched a food blog, Food Is Love, and has plans to start her own cooking show.

“I love food and I love cooking,” she says. “Food has always been how we show love in our family.

“I don’t get as much time to cook as I’d like, but the show made me realise that there’s so much more I’d like to achieve in my life.”

She remembers as a little girl standing in her gran’s kitchen, cooking and narrating her actions to a make-believe audience.

“My food dream was always to have my own cooking show. After MasterChef I started rethinking that possibility. It’s on the drawing board and, hopefully, by the end of the year I’ll be able to disclose a bit more information.”