To her 11-year-old son, Ms Shamin Charles D’Souza is already “MasterChef mama”, but the 46-year-old homemaker is determined to prove her culinary chops in front of the national audience.
The former fashion model and flight attendant auditioned for the last season of MasterChef Singapore but didn’t make it to the top 12. That didn’t disappoint her. Instead, it “fueled [her] desire” to improve her culinary flair further.
“If one door of opportunity closes, there will be 100 more that open,” Ms D’Souza told The UrbanWire over a Zoom interview.
Indeed, when she tried again for a spot in the recently premiered Season 3 of MasterChef Singapore, she got into the top 12 with her pan-fried fish chilli fry and prawn moilee.
“[It] is my proudest dish because I not only earned an apron to enter the MasterChef kitchen but unanimously all three judges loved it,” said Ms D’Souza.
Her Younger Days
Born in Mumbai, India, Ms D’Souza grew up watching many cooking shows on TV. As a little girl, she would pretend to cook up a meal and imagine herself presenting her dishes on camera. She told herself that she would become a chef one day.
That goal would have to wait, though. When Ms D’Souza was in college, she was talent-scouted to be a model – thanks to her good looks and charisma. She then took part in a series of beauty pageants, winning the title of Miss Mumbai Suburbs, and getting into the top five in Miss Mumbai before entering the national Miss India pageant.
Her Singapore Connection
Ms D’Souza’s tie with Singapore started when she joined her friends and auditioned for a flight attendant job at Singapore Airlines. She flew with the airline for the next 11 plus years.
Being a Singapore Girl was a great experience for Ms D’Souza as the “Singapore Airlines Academy [was] the best in the world [where I] was taught everything,” she said.
In 1998, she relocated to Singapore when she was recruited by Singapore Airlines in India and has since started a family with her husband. The couple has one son.
Staying True To Her Culinary Dream
During her globe-trotting days, Ms D’Souza did not forget her culinary dreams. Wherever she stayed at, she would ask the hotel chefs to let her see how they cook in the kitchen.
During her stay at a boutique hotel in Bali for instance, she asked the head chef if she could help with meal preparation. The head chef agreed and even taught her how to make different types of Indonesian sambal.
After resigning from the SQ job in mid 2009, Ms D’Souza became a full-time homemaker. She takes pride in cooking for her family almost daily. Practice makes perfect – that’s her motto.
She’s taken part and won in two cooking competitions before she vied for a spot in MasterChef Singapore.
When asked if her previous experiences helped prepare her for MasterChef, she said: “MasterChef is Masterchef. Nothing can prepare you for it.
Still, Ms D’Souza didn’t simply slack off. In the lead up to MasterChef, she entertained her friends regularly with dishes she created or adapted from others’ recipes, all the while taking note of their feedback in a bid to improve her skills.
She’s also challenged herself to whip up a dish with minimal ingredients within a time limit. She would ask herself: “Hey, you know, if not this, what then? How would you do it if you do not have this ingredient?”
It’s unclear if Ms D’Souza will be crowned the MasterChef in this season, but she said no matter the outcome, she will stay humble and keep learning.
She also hopes to start a catering business to let people try as many of her dishes as possible. “I think the best way is starting a catering business where you know, you can let everyone sample what you cook,” she said.
MasterChef Singapore Season 3 is on Channel 5, Sunday, 9.30 pm. You can catch it on meWATCH too.