How home baker Devaki Vijayaraman found her inner master chef

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The title winner of ‘MasterChef India – Tamil’, Devaki Vijayaraman, talks about how the cooking reality show helped her find her footing in the culinary world

In this remote street of Tiruchi’s Thillai Nagar, a banner congratulating Devaki Vijayaraman for winning the title in the first season MasterChef India – Tamil Google Maps does a better job of helping us locate the home of a low-profile winner.

But Devaki blushes when we mention her. “My husband and school friends kept at it, even though I wasn’t up for it. Participation in masterchef tamil And winning the inaugural season sounds like a dream to me; I haven’t woken up yet!” laughs Devaki.

Preparation, as every cook is fond of saying, is everything in the culinary world. But preparing for Devaki often outweighs her passion for trying new things.

Despite having an interest in cooking from an early age, Devaki was not encouraged by her family to make it a profession. “So I graduated in commerce, and then did my MBA, and worked in an IT company for a few years. After marriage, my husband and I lived in Chennai, but we decided to return to Tiruchi when we were expecting our first child,” says the 28-year-old.

lockdown bake

A few months after the birth of her son Dhruv, Devaki attended a baking course, and started posting pictures of her cakes on her WhatsApp and Instagram accounts. “After the course I got a little cake crazy,” she admits with a shy smile, “I set up a baking and icing station in my drawing room so I could get the right products.

What started as a hobby turned into a business idea during the lockdown. With the closure of commercial bakeries last year, Devaki finds herself flooded with orders from friends and neighbours. As his venture grew, so did his dreams.

“I am an ardent fan of cookery shows on TV; when i saw [Singaporean] sasi cheliah wins MasterChef Australia Titled in 2018, I got emotional to contest elections on the show,” says Devaki.

Devaki Vijayaraman won the hearts of the MasterChef judges with her brilliance for fusion food. , photo credit: special arrangement

“But it wasn’t about winning anything, I would have been happy just qualifying or getting the maximum apron,” she says.

Filmed in Bangalore and broadcast by Sun TV, MasterChef India – Tamil It was hosted by actor Vijay Sethupathi. Professional chefs Harish Rao, Aarti Sampath and Kaushik S were the judges. There is no doubt that Devaki has achieved much more than what was initially expected: apart from winning the title and trophy, she has also received the coveted MasterChef gold-trim coat and a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh.

After clearing two audition rounds in Madurai, Devaki was among the 12 shortlisted contestants who went to Bengaluru, where 12 more entered the contest.

She was one of the 14 finalists who eventually progressed to the advanced stages of the show.

“After the initial shyness and despite the difference in our age and experience, we all became good friends, and spent our free time discussing food and cooking techniques. Everyone had a unique point of view, and we also researched ideas for every episode in our spare time. Online “I learned a lot about food and cooking in the six months after filming the show,” Devaki says.

Interacting with the charismatic host was a major highlight. “Vijay Sethupathi is so down-to-earth; While we waited for the chef to evaluate our work with lumps in our stomachs, he would defuse the tension with a light-hearted joke,” she recalls. On the contrary, she says, the judges were strict. “We could only talk about the food we cooked, and listen to his technical assessment of our skills.”

Devaki Vijayaraman runs a successful home baking business in Tiruchi.

Devaki Vijayaraman runs a successful home baking business in Tiruchi. , Photo credit: Srinath M/The Hindu

Twist of Taste

Though she found cooking on camera nerve-wracking, as the show progressed, Devki started heating up the vibe. “I focused on the challenge of the day. If I could overcome it, I would have been happy.”

Devaki presented dishes that were based on continental flavors with a southern Indian twist.

Whether aransini (fried italian rice balls filled with cheese) karuvepillai sadam (curry leaf rice), or dianthus puthrakelu, a floral take on peppery Andhra rice batter dessert served with white chocolate, stood out her yen for fusion cuisine.

“I realized I had finally reached some level of expertise when Judge Harish Rao took a selfie with me after posing Dianthus puthrakelu, because I tried a complicated technique with ingredients available in the studio, replacing a clay pot with a dosa Tawa,” she says.

In the finale, Mayajalam, an iced lemon cream quencher with a Paruthi Pali (Cottonseed Extract) Mousse Filling won the hearts of the judges with its sweet and tangy flavours.

“Although it was a Tamil show, master Chef There is also about the food of other cultures. I tried to do my best with whatever is out here in South India mixed with international flavours,” she says.

Devaki hopes to secure a part of her prize money for her son’s future, and expand her bakery business as well.

“win” MasterChef India – Tamil The title has given me a new identity and confidence. My customers in Tiruchi have shown great support and pride by purchasing a cake from the winner of the season,” she laughs. “Their trust and love are the best rewards.”

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