Apart from being is an incredibly talented chef, Elena Duggan, is also humble and fun to chat with. In a conversation with us, the winner of Masterchef Australia 2016, revealed that she is a big fan of Indian cuisine. “Every time I see colours and flavour in food, it just screams ‘Indian’, which is very exciting. I love to be among spice markets, something I know would be an absolute riot for my senses. I am a fan of Goan cuisine and I like the mild curry and seafood,” says Elena who is yet to visit India.
The 32-yr-old is a visual arts teacher by profession and hails from New South Wales, Australia. Over the years, Instagram has also started to play a crucial role in the culinary world, with every food lover Instagraming pictures of their meal.
But for Elena, it’s always more about the flavour and nutrition than the appearance. “I’ve heard of people sending their food back because its cold due to the time it took them to take their photo which is ludicrous! I understand that we seem to eat with our eyes first, but, I advocate flavour, nutrition, and excellent technique over any sort of presentation”,” she says, adding, “I’ve been to a few restaurants where they request customers not to click photos and thoroughly enjoy the experience. I understand that there is a time and a place for both. People want to share their wonderful experiences with others.”
While there were several high and lows during the show for her, there was one moment that stood out. “A big turning point for me was when I was making my Spanish pork and rice. I found my happy place while cooking that dish. There was this conscious thought that I am cooking for my family and friends. I tried to keep utilising this thought then on.”
The popularity of the contest, which airs on Star World, has also raised one question whether the glamour of the show has overshadowed the culinary aspect of it. She says, “It’s not glamorous in anyway shape or form. It’s about educating at various levels. But there is some glamour to it. However it comes with a lot of hard work. I think it’s also about teaching younger people to be passionate about what they eat, passionate about what they grow.”
Top trends to watch out for by Elena
1) There’s much focus on minimising weight. People are using every ingredient to its maximum potential. The idea is to use from root to stem to leaf of a vegetable and keep it minimal.
2) The demand for affordable and delicious food is on the rise. With burger joints cropping up every where, a normal hamburger is not enough. People now want a gourmet burger.
3) The term foraging is trending with people going out in expeditions to search for edible food. For example in Australia a lot of people collect mushrooms in the forest and along the coast and sort of forage for wild mushrooms, grains and vegetables.