Masterchef 2012 winner Shelina Permalloo in discussions over possible restaurant

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Shelina Permalloo, the 2012 Masterchef winner, has told BigHospitality her plans for a full restaurant are advancing with pop-up projects also in the pipeline
Shelina Permalloo, the 2012 Masterchef winner, has told BigHospitality her plans for a full restaurant are advancing with pop-up projects also in the pipeline
Shelina Permalloo, the latest Masterchef winner, has reaffirmed her plans to enter the restaurant business and revealed she is in discussions over a possible location and financing with a concept now fully formed in her mind.

UK-born Permalloo, who showcased her Mauritian heritage on the BBC TV show, said any full restaurant project would feature dishes from Mauritius but would be focused on small plates, street food and nostalgic meals to share.

The hopeful restaurateur has already seen her food on the menu of a number of venues in the UK and is planning more pop-up projects in the build-up to her first full restaurant.

Practicalities

Permalloo, who became only the second female winner of the competition when she was crowned champion earlier this year, said she would love to follow in the footsteps of Thomasina Miers who co-founded Mexican street food chain Wahaca after she won the 2005 series.

"In my head I know exactly how I want it to be but the practicalities are not only financial. I am having conversations with a few people at the moment. I would love it to be London but I have no idea yet."

She argued an element of naivety on entering the industry was good but the practicalities of the business were 'harsh': "I don’t know whether or not it is easier for celebrities or people who have had a career in the spotlight – I think it is quite different."

After becoming knownfor her love of using mangoes in cooking, Permalloo has gone on to champion Mauritian food and will be presenting her tips on street food from the island as one of the headlining chefs in the Fine Food Forum at this year's Speciality & Fine Food Fair.

A fusion of African, European, Indian and Chinese cuisines, Mauritian food is, as yet, largely unrepresented in the UK hospitality industry - something Permalloo said she is determined to change.

"It is very limited – we have a few takeaways in conurbations where there are a lot of Mauritian people such as Wood Green and Turnpike Lane. In terms of fine dining or mainstream restaurants there isn’t any presence. I definitely want a restaurant – when that happens hopefully the situation will change," she said.

Benares

The former charity worker designed a number of 'gajaks' dishes - a type of Mauritian tapas - for Benares Restaurant & Bar where she joined the team for service earlier this month.

"It was a Michelin-starred restaurant – I was so chuffed! Atul Kochhar was very happy with me. It was a brilliant experience and the week after I was at 1 Lombard Street where I developed eight dishes for their bar menu."

While the practicalities of an eventual full business project are worked out the hopeful restaurateur is currently writing two cookbooks and planning her first return to Mauritius since winning the show where she will work for a local hotel.

Shelina Permalloo will be appearing at the Fine Food Forum on the Monday of the Speciality & Fine Food Fair which runs from 2-4 September at the London Olympia.

Related topics: Venues, Events & Awards, People, Restaurants

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