Chef Interview with Shelina Permalloo

Cook, TV Chef & Author of not one, but two fabulous cookbooks; The Sunshine Diet' & 'Sunshine on a Plate’, Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo is certainly enticing us with new flavours and a new found love for Mauritian cuisine.

Q. How long have you been cooking for?
A. Apparently I started hovering around my mum's kitchen at the age of 3 trying to be her sous chef.

Q. How would you describe your style of cooking?
A. Mauritian modern authentic with a strong focus on flavour and colour.

Q. Is there another chef that you most admire?
A. So many!!! It would be hard to pinpoint... the chefs I love learning from are ones who have taken something frugal and turned it into something magnificent. I learnt that when I cooked with the head chef and owner of 3 star michelin restaurant, De Karmeliet. He took the humble mackarel and made it 3 star (Geert Van Hecke).

Q. What’s your signature dish?
A. Anything containing octopus.

Q. Do you have a favourite ingredient?
A. Nothing beats mango!

Q. What would you choose for your "last meal”?
A. Something cooked by my mum. Perhaps a simple Mauritian chicken dish with rice.

Q. Do you have a top cooking tip?
A. Don't try and be something you're not. Figure out your cooking style and stick to it.

Q. Do you have a favourite or funny memory of your time in the kitchen?
A. Apparently when I was 7 I said to my mum I would cook a cheesecake for everyone for pudding. Obviously back then there was no Google, so I grated mature cheddar, mixed it with butter and food colouring and added flour. I baked this and presented it to the family. Everyone said it was too pretty to eat, but of course it was just a complete mess!

Q. What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a chef?
A. Stay true to your roots and follow the food style you love.

Q. Any big plans for the future?
A. I have my first restaurant Lakaz Maman in southampton so ideally I'd like to open up a few more over the new couple of years. Also I would like to focus some time on writing my 3rd cook book.

Q. Anything else noteworthy you would like to add?
A. You can follow me on instagram or twitter @shelinacooks and Facebook ShelinaPermalloo cookery author and TV Chef x

Shelina will be back for another year in the London Halal Food Festival kitchen. Grab your Saturday tickets now to ensure you don’t miss this star chef in action.

Rachael Elliott