Knorr has crowned its first Knorr Taste Quest winner – Lalu Surdiham. The Lagos hotel chef fought off stiff competition from four other hopefuls for the amazing prize of a 2013 Hyundai Elantra, N1million and kitchen equipment worth N300,000.
Coming in second and third place but not empty handed were Patricia Allison and Saratu Mamman. Particia left the competition with N1millon & a kitchen set worth N300,000 and Saratu leaving with N500,000 and a kitchen set worth N300,000. The fourth and fifth runners up went home with amazing prizes including kitchen equipment and Knorr branded products respectively.
According to Executive Chief and head of the judges Dr. Roberts “The choice of winner was basically based on their performance of the task that they had in front of them. It had nothing to do with whether you are a man, woman or child, it was strictly based on the task at hand. The show has proved that anybody can be a Chef irrespective of gender provided you can put your mind to it. Cooking is not only a skill that women do.”
Also speaking at the presentation ceremony, Brand Building Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc David Okeme commented “What you have witnessed is over 1500 hours of cooking from 12 talented Nigerian Chefs. They have worked with over 70 ingredients and they have used that to create amazing dishes”. He added, “It has reinforced the extraordinary length which the brand goes to deliver taste to the consumers. Knorr as a brand is an international brand. Secondly, the criteria were spelt out from the start and we threw it open to anybody who loved to cook. We all witnessed that the recipes were a balance of both local and international in line with the Knorr philosophy of excellence.”
In an interview with the winner Lalu, he talks about his career, game strategy and how he will be spending his 1 million Naira cash prize.
How long have you been in Nigeria?
I have been in Nigeria for five years and four months now. I work as a Chef with Sky Restaurant, Eko Hotel & Suites. I am 44 years and married to an Indonesian lady with three children.
How did you get to know about the show?
I got to know about the competition through one of my friends. He told me Knorr was organizing a cooking competition. On my part, I made efforts to search for more information about the competition on the Internet. Then I registered and went for auditions and passed through all the screening stages before I made the 12 finalists.
So how did you find yourself in the kitchen?
Actually, it started with me enrolling with a Hotel & Catering School in Bailey. After graduation, I worked with several intercontinental hotels. I took my trade outside to countries such as Dubai, Ukraine, Jordan and then the Middle East before I made the journey to Lagos.
How early in life did you begin this career?
I started immediately after High School. I was quite young then and my family didn’t have anything and I needed to work to make things a bit easy for myself. I also went to school but I wanted to work to help my family. Let’s say I was age 19 then. I have four brothers and three sisters. And I am the second born. My parents are both Indonesians.
Why did you decide to come to Nigeria?
I was in Ukraine where I worked with a big hotel. I got an interesting offer to be part of Sky Restaurant and I settled for it. So here we are till this moment. Nigeria is my home now.
Did you have any fear that a Nigerian stood better chance than you?
I have a skill. I am a patient Chef. I am also very inquisitive and I learn whatever I put my mind to. I am quite familiar with Nigerian foods because we have a local kitchen where they cook Nigerian dishes. I tried to spend a couple of hours there every day to pay attention to the recipes and how they mix the ingredients every day. Even in my Kitchen, we have local food stuffs like Garri and cocoyam.
Tell us what the secret of your success was during the show?
First, when I got into the competition, I had to spend like 14 hours a day to learn about local Nigerian dishes. Then when I progressed to the grand final, I spent more hours every day learning as much as I could. Learning and practising are the main secrets. Then the big secret is the Knorr. It is a taste maker and when one introduces it into the dish, it changes everything. It is a special condiment that is made up of several things that when combined with cooking ingredients produces an amazing taste.
So what is your favourite Nigerian dish?
(Laughs) I don’t joke with my Suya at the street corner. Then I also like pepper soup. Another thing that I don’t joke with is jollof rice. These are things I can prepare too myself. I love Nigerian foods.
What about Nigerian girls?
(Laughs) Na wahala o! I just mind my business in the kitchen. I have a perfect relationship with my female Nigerian colleagues. I must confess that they are smart and intelligent. In the competition people like Patricia and Ifeyinwa had lots of good ideas.
What was going through your mind in those last moments?
I was thinking that Patricia would emerge as the champion. Then they announced her as the first Runner-Up and I was a bit confused. And then, I looked round and saw two other contestants including Gregory. I wasn’t sure of myself until I was pronounced winner. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
So how are you spending your prize gift?
I will drive around Lagos in my car. I am very proud to get this car. I will share a part of my money with the poor and plan the remaining with my family especially my son’s education.
Congratulations to Lalu Surdiham. To be updated on when the next season of Knorr Taste Quest will begin Like the Facebook page : www.facebook.com/Knorr Nigeria
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