Tasnim Jadwat is rocking at Masterchef SA Season 4

When Tasnim Jadwat got married at 22, her mother warned her mother-in-law that she wasn’t that good in the kitchen. Now she’s taken on Masterchef SA and nothing could be further from the truth!

The new season of Masterchef SA has just started and of the 20 contestants, 2 of them are Muslim. Tasnim Jadwat, also known by her Instagram handle @Chalokaawa, which means, “Let’s eat!” and Mohammed Haffejee, who used to own Nomad restaurant in Melrose, Johannesburg.

Tasnim hails from Durban but moved to the East Rand in Johannesburg when she got married. Initially she pursued media studies and journalism and even had a short stint with the SABC in Johannesburg. But when her first child, Iman was born with a rare auto-immune disease, she gave it up to care for her full time.

Tasnim is bubbly and her adventurous nature comes through in her kitchen escapades. Inspired by her daughter Iman, she is always innovating with her food. There is never a dull moment on her Instagram page. From Watermelon Sojee, and Deep-fried Ice Cream Stuffed Dates to Doughnut Baked Alaska. Interspersed with her warm kitchen adventures with Iman, she was a natural choice for a Masterchef contestant.

But how did it all start?

Tasnim had always been a fan of the show. When the new season was announced, Iman pushed her mother to enter. Tasnim wanted to inspire her daughter who despite the challenges of living with SMA is an achiever in her own right.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease that affects nerves and muscles, causing muscles to become increasingly weak. Despite a dire prognosis as a baby, Iman is now 13 years old, has a sharp mind and sense of humour. She bakes with her mother and even has her own Instagram page.

Tasnim and Iman work tirelessly to create awareness around this rare disease. Both their channels are a valuable source of information and inspiration.

The Contest

After submitting the extensive application to enter Masterchef SA, judges Zola Nene, Gregory Czarnecki, and Justine Drake received 1200 entries which they had to shortlist to 350 hopefuls. They then conducted Zoom interviews where things like knife skills had to be displayed. This was then whittled down to 40 who were all flown to Makers Landing in Cape Town for a live audition from which the final 20 were selected.

During November last year, all 20 finalists spent a month in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront precinct, all expenses paid by the show. In 1 short month all 20 episodes were filmed to be aired 3 months later. Contestants are bound by a non disclosure agreement to not reveal any information that might give away who gets eliminated and who makes it through to the finals. Can you imagine the pressure of sitting on that information all this time…?

The show took the halaal factor into great consideration for their Muslim contestants. Conscious Meat Merchants, a fully halaal Butchery and eatery at Makers Landing, was the official supplier of meat for the show. A separate fridge for the halaal product was supplied. Alcohol as a pre-requisite was taken out of all the challenges which served to level the playing fields for everyone.

The well-being of the contestants were given priority as well. A clinical psychologist was available to the contestants 24/7. The impact of the pressure on a reality show cannot be under-estimated. Along with that, renowned cookbook author Errieda du Toit was appointed to mentor the contestants and design the challenges.  

Tasnim had the generous support of her husband and extended family to look after Iman and her 2 siblings, which gave her the peace of mind to be able to focus on this most exciting challenge. To be honest, the entire Muslim food community is so behind Tasnim, that in her own words, she has found the support almost overwhelming. We’re rooting for her all the way!

I asked Tasnim what her biggest take-away or learning was from her Masterchef experience? All while hoping she would reveal a snippet of what’s to come. Alas, she is as tight-lipped as Fort Knox is secure…. Tasnim says, “That a dream can become real… being a contestant on a show you love so much is an unbelievable achievement.”

Her parting advice for anyone who wants to pursue a life in the culinary space:

Without passion you’re dead. Love what you do and you’ll achieve the impossible!

Catch Tasnim and all the Masterchef SA action Monday to Thursday at 6pm on Mnet. The show ends on 31 March and promises to be nailbiting!


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