While most of the contestants on MasterChef Singapore Season 3 probably only got their first taste of the show during the auditions, Shamin D’Souza found the experience all too familiar.
The 46-year-old was actually part of the group of participants who applied for the second season of the show. However, after clearing the first round of auditions, she was eliminated before even getting to appear on television.
But evidently, this didn’t deter Shamin from trying again as she’s back again in the latest and third season of MasterChef Singapore, a spin-off of the popular British reality television show.
Getting Eliminated Didn’t Discourage Her
Shamin confesses that she had actually been tempted to participate in season one, but eventually didn’t because she “was not very confident”.
She finally plucked up the courage by the time the auditions for the second season rolled around but unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as she hoped.
While such an experience would demoralise most people, Shamin was the complete opposite, taking the rejection in her stride.
“It didn’t disappoint me. I was like hey, I probably need to learn more and pick up new skills,” she shares.
To do that, Shamin says she did more research on food and of course, experimented more in the kitchen.
She even decided to take things up a notch by dabbling in the field of molecular gastronomy.
It’s evident all her efforts have paid off — in the first episode of season three, her prawn moilee & chilli fry emerged as the best fish dish, leaving the judges impressed.
“This is everything that I love about food,” Judge Bjorn Shen raved, while his counterpart Audra Morrice added that Shamin’s moilee — a type of curry — was “gold.”
Shamin working her magic in the kitchen. PHOTO: MeWATCH
In fact, all three of the judges were so blown away by the dish that they wasted no time in giving her an apron, signifying that she’d officially made it on the show.
“I had goosebumps all over me, I would have cried at that point of time, because for me, it was like a dream come true,” Shamin gets emotional as she recounts, calling it her “best moment” of the entire competition.
“I feel that not making it in season two was a very good thing for me. It kind of taught me to learn more,” she reflects.
And while she is doing well, Shamin humbly admits that she still has a long way to go in her cooking journey.
“I realised there’s so much more to learn in the culinary world,” she says. “Even now, I don’t think I have harnessed all the skills, but you know, it’s giving me that hunger, that appetite, to learn more and get better at what I do.”
She Used to Spend More Time in the Skies Than in the Kitchen
While Shamin is tearing it up in the MasterChef kitchen, she didn’t always have this many opportunities to cook thanks to her jet-setting lifestyle in the past.
Fun fact — before she put on a chef’s apron, Shamin used to don the Singapore Airlines (SIA) kebaya.
Shamin during her SIA days. PHOTO: Shamin D’Souza
In 1997, then still living in India, Shamin applied to be a Singapore Girl with her friends for fun, she recalls.
While she’d never seriously considered the career path before that, Shamin landed the job in 1998 and ended up staying in the industry for over 11 years.
During her flying days, she met her husband who worked in Singapore, and this prompted her to become a permanent resident in 2004.
Then, in 2009, she decided to snip her wings to become a full-time mum.
Her SIA days weren’t the only glamorous days of her life. Prior to becoming a stewardess, Shamin entered the pageant and modelling industry when she was 16 and appeared in fashion shows and advertisements in India for extra pocket money.
Shamin during her pageant days. PHOTO: Shamin D’Souza
And while her past experiences are vastly different from being a contestant on a reality cooking show, she shares that these still have brought value to the table by helping her feel more “comfortable in front of the camera”.
“Singapore Airlines has been an absolute amazing training ground for me. It grooms you significantly, I’ve learned so much,” she says gratefully.
One of Her Biggest Inspirations Is Her Son
Though Shamin left the aviation industry to care for her son, Neev Vijay Kumar, in a twist of fate, he became the driving force behind her culinary career and her MasterChef stint.
“If you talk about inspiration, it’s my son whose got me rethinking boring housewife food,” she says.
“I always had this passion for cooking, but he kind of ignited the flame somewhere and made me feel like I should do something in that line.”
Shamin and her son. PHOTO: Shamin D’Souza
Since he was five, the 11-year-old boy has encouraged and inspired her to cook dishes from her childhood, which in turned helped her hone her skills.
“He always wanted to hear stories about what kind of food I grew up with, what kind of food I had as a little girl. He always wanted to know what I’ve eaten,” she says, adding that Neev would also ask for photographs of these food for reference.
As she had very few pictures of her childhood food, Shamin decided that she would instead replicate the dishes in real life for him and compile these on Instagram for him, and possibly, his future kids.
“He’s started calling me MasterChef Mama,” she laughs.
Neev has also become so passionate about food that he gets pretty involved in the kitchen too.
“Even in school, he’s taken up a CCA which involves cooking and just yesterday, he baked a lemon drizzle cake,” Shamin beams proudly.
Shamin even confesses that she started baking just because of him and he’s so much better than her that she’s “ashamed”.
“I think I can pick up a few skills just from him,” she says with a hearty chortle.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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