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Lalu Surdiham Emerges as Knorr Taste Quest’s Season 1 Winner

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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.

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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.

The Fabulous Prizes

The Fabulous Prizes

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Mrs Bolanle Kehinde-Lawal, Category Manager, Savoury with Ms Saratu Mamman 2nd runner up of the Knorr Taste Quest Cooking Competition during the prize presentation ceremony
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Ms Patricia Allison (L), 1st runner up of the Knorr Taste Quest Cooking Competition with Mrs Tolulope Agiri, HR Director Unilever Nig. Plc during the prize presentation ceremony

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Mrs Oiza Gyang, Category Manager, Tea and Spread with Mrs Ifeyinwa Mogekwu, 3rd runner up of the Knorr Taste Quest Cooking Competition during the prize presentation ceremony

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Mr Gregory Owie (L), 4th runner up of the Knorr Taste Quest Cooking Competition with Mrs Folake Awe, Customer Marketing Manager, Unilever Nig. Plc during the prize presentation ceremony

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.

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L-R, Chef Fregz, David Okeme, Lalu Surdiham, Dr Roberts and Tolulope Agiri, at the Knorr Taste Quest Prize Presentation Ceremony

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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22 Comments

  1. Dimz

    April 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Not interested….How will a non-Nigerian win?

    • BabyDee

      April 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Such a demented, racist, comment!!! Odensen….

    • buchi

      April 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      what silly commentary! if it were to be the other way round you will surely scream “racist”! smh

  2. uche

    April 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

    They cheated Ifeyinwa jor. how can someone in the top 3 become 4th. OJORO KNORR

  3. Hurperyermie

    April 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

    congrats lalu

  4. Bleed blue

    April 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Sararu babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!

  5. nate

    April 16, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I had a feeling he was gonna win….congrats

  6. pynk

    April 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

    love his simplicity.

  7. Temizzy

    April 16, 2013 at 11:49 am

    ok

  8. Ebun

    April 16, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Yayy! Congrats LALU! Very Impressive.

    Itsebunite.wordpress.com

  9. cynthia

    April 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Nice one. Congratulations to all the winners!

    I think there should be seperate taste quests for Amateur cooks and professionals. Like MasterChef & MasterChef: The professionlas

  10. HRS

    April 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I’m very very happy for Lalu, he deserves it, sad that Gregory left at top5, thought he would make top3.

    Nice to know a non- naija can win! 🙂

  11. Lolo

    April 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    How do you take someone who is a trained professional and put them against home cooks and expect them not to win. No offense to Lalu because you did not make the rules, but the organizers of the show are very daft.

    • Yemisi

      April 20, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Gregory is also a trained chef but he came 5th so was Aaron and Dmilola but they got evicted early in the competition. I read the press release and it said it was open to anybody from all works of life. Just so you know even on master chef, the one for amateurs you find people who works in kitchens there as well. I guess as long as you are not the owner or the head chef we can’t really call you a professional.

  12. adelegirl

    April 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Hey Knorr, I cant cook as well as the contestants. In fact if I’m being honest I am just a basic home cook. Nothing fancy BUT I want ALL the pressies that the the contestants got. Please fix this for me! 😀

    Congratulations to all the contestants especially the winner Lalu. It takes guts to put yourself out there to have your cooking judged. Even us basic home cooks get defensive about our cooking with family and friends not to speak of absolute strangers laying into you because of your cooking.

  13. Unamennnn

    April 17, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Congrats Lalu, but wished Patricia won! Love her simplicity

  14. francisca

    April 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    buh seriously o, y put a professional chef (lalu) in the competition, when this no be master chef… no beef buh d organizers shuld have deir heads checked.

  15. francisca

    April 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    putting lalu in the competition is just like tiwa or wizkid going for Nigerian idol. SMH

    • Yemisi

      April 20, 2013 at 12:30 am

      Gregory is also a trained chef but he came 5th so was Aaron and Dmilola but they got evicted early in the competition. I read the press release and it said it was open to anybody from all works of life. Just so you know even on master chef, the one for amateurs you find people who works in kitchens there as well. I guess as long as you are not the owner or the head chef we can’t really call you a professional.

  16. seun

    April 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    hi guys, why you don’t invite celebrity chef,star chef, TV show chef,star chef. let them try knorr taste quest…you think easy, do you think they will win, do you think the can cook in that competition.not easy as you think, easy to talk,but try to be there…… congrats Lalu, I like your style and your magic touch

  17. grace

    April 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Congrats to the Winner!!!!…After all the dedication,focus and love for the cooking…proved to be the winner….well done great job..no matter what others said..he deserved to WIN…if you watch the whole episode of this competition, its wasn’t easy…ooo..anyway…Congrats Lalu…you deserved it… also to Patricia,Ify and Saratu..

  18. chinwendu

    October 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    am 16 and i love cooking.i never even knew there was something like a cooking competition, i just heard it in from the radio and i was excited but when i saw that it was from the ages of 20 to 45 i wasnt happy.i think you guyz should create teenagers cooking competition too,it will make sense i think.i would love to engage in it.thank u and congrats to lalu

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