Recipe for success! | Daily News


Recipe for success!

Preparing her winning dish the Sri Lankan crab curry with coconut rice and pineapple salad
Preparing her winning dish the Sri Lankan crab curry with coconut rice and pineapple salad

They turn simple food into works of art. Guided by their hands, disparate ingredients conspire to combine into dishes that titillate the taste buds and entertain the eyes. The aroma too, teleports you to another dimension.

Pitch them all together under one roof and you literally have all the elements for a veritable feast. This is exactly what transpired at MasterChef Australia Season 11 as it unfolded on the mini screens a couple of months back. The popular cooking game show which is based on the original British MasterChef saw 24 contestants making it to the show. Sri Lankan born Dhayanie Williams aka ‘Dee’ was among those who whipped up the delicious and aromatic dishes. What made her stand out among the other contestants is that she incorporated Sri Lankan cuisine into her culinary expertise.

Dee had not studied culinary art. It was her mother, Vijaya Williams, who had encouraged her to read cookbooks and had taught her the basics of classic Sri Lankan and southern Indian dishes.

“Cooking soon became my passion. I always enjoyed making various kinds of dishes during my spare time. It is also a stress reliever after a long day at work,” Dee explained.

Her love for the art led her on this tantalizing venture. After arriving in Australia she was inspired by the variety of cuisines and cooking cultures on offer.

She says that her strengths in the kitchen are Asian cuisines such as Sri Lankan and South Indian dishes.

Sri Lankan crab curry with coconut rice and pineapple salad

“I am a confident all-rounder in Malaysian, Chinese, Thai and Singaporean flavours. I am also capable of producing Italian, Greek, Moroccan and Middle Eastern food - both savoury and sweet dishes. The most difficult menu is the French, because the techniques used in making pastries, sweets and breads all need to be practiced for a long time to get it perfect,” she said.

Elaborating the procedures which allowed her to make it to the top 24 Dee says, “I applied online and answered several questions. Additionally, you need to upload some photos of your previous cooked dishes and a video cooking a dish. After submitting the relevant information, you will be invited to a facility with others in your to state to compete in a mystery box challenge. If the production team is happy with your dish, you will be asked to come the next day to make whatever dish you want to. I made Watalappan on that day. If the production team is happy with that dish, you will be required to complete various written tests. Then you will go into a selection pool with other contestants around Australia.”

Dhayanie Williams

Looking back on the competition which shot her to the limelight Dee says that being a part of MasterChef 2019 top 24 is a privilege.

“It is not an experience that you can buy by paying money. I believe determination, hard work, practice prior to getting into the show and never giving up were the key ingredients of my success,” she noted with a smile.

She believes that her Sri Lankan style crab curry with coconut rice and pineapple salad was the best dish she presented at the event. The aroma and flavours won over the judges and gathered comments like “Dee-licious!”, “We will remember this dish for a long time. Brilliant stuff, Dee.” and “Aw yum, I’d sweat every day of the week for that crab curry” from them.

Hence it is no wonder that Dee names the day when she received the apron to take part in MasterChef 2019 as her most cherished memory related to the event.

“Receiving the positive feedback from the judges for the crab curry and knowing I was going to get the apron was a wonderful feeling I will never forget for the rest of my life. It is a privilege to be part of MasterChef top 24 and at the same time bringing the Sri Lankan cuisines into the show is great,” she added with glee.

She admires the talents of all the contestants who took part. She notes that it is really hard to put oneself out in the public. It demands a lot of courage as it is a stressful environment in the kitchen since you are continuously under pressure.

“They all made different cuisines. I have learnt from every single one of them from the show. Everyone is good at something and because you’re in that bubble of like-minded people, it is a privilege to get to know them and learn from them,” Dee explained.

The toughest moment for her was leaving the competition. The pressure test to create Darren Purchese’s Bombe Alaska got her eliminated from the competition.

“I have added too much ice cream stabiliser in the Salted Caramel Ice Cream, therefore I had to re-create the ice cream twice and I was far behind from the other two contestants. I tried so hard and got the final dish fully plated for the judges’ tasting. However, the ice cream didn’t have enough time to set in the blast chiller, therefore it was a bit runny inside compared to the two other contestants,” she expressed adding that it was an amazing feeling being part of the show and a once in a lifetime experience.

“Knowing I was going to miss out on all the wonderful experiences the show had to offer was hard and painful,” she noted with emotion.

MasterChef Australia has taught her to never give up when you are facing adversity. It has also given her the confidence to go out to pursue her dream and passion for cooking.

She had launched her own Youtube channel Dee-licious. She had also reached out to many culinary enthusiasts through Facebook.

“I have received constructive feedback as well in regard to ways to improve my videos. I have used this feedback to improve the user experience for the viewer,” she said.

Dee admires the culinary expertise of Curtis Stone, Amaury, Gordan Ramsay and Peter Kuruwita.

Presenting her dish to Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston

“I recently launched my catering arm of the business where I am able to cater for private functions, birthday parties, etc. Another part of the business provides customers with lunch and dinner take away packs. My event arm of the business allows customers to come to my premises and have private functions, where I will cook them a three-course meal or anything they want in the menu. The media arm of the business creates cooking and product review videos. Through videos I can collaborate with various brands and cook meals with their products. I am also planning to launch a range of spice mixes and curry pastes,” she said.

Her ambition is to visit Sri Lanka and create a cooking show with a Sri Lankan television network. She also wishes to promote Sri Lankan tourism around the world.

“For me, taking part in MasterChef has opened lots of different opportunities. It has also given me the confidence to pursue my culinary dream. I would encourage anyone who wants to participate in a culinary competition to go for it. You simply have to follow your dreams. Life is too short to not follow your dreams and be happy. You may not win the competition, but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she opined.

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