Words: Janine Walker
The quirky and tattooed Renae Smith soon became an audience favourite as a finalist on the last season of MasterChef Australia screened here.
She’s now heading to South Africa where she will be in action in Johannesburg as well as joining the series’ winner Brent Owens at the Good Food & Wine Show in Durban at the end of October.
Thanks to encouragement from her children, Smith applied to become a contestant on MasterChef Australia. Her successful audition eventually saw her place in the Top 10 where she became known for her love of local ingredients, healthy cooking and vegetarian food. Labelled the “Mystery Box Queen” by the other contestants, Smith’s ability to create dishes full of flavour with minimal ingredients ensured she gained the judges attention. Since the series ended, Renae become known for her vegetarian food as well as passion for getting children to eat healthily.
“I have become a bit of a ‘go to’ in Australia for people looking to change over to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. I get questions daily about recommendations, or how to create proteins etc. It’s lovely to think people turn to me when they want to become healthier.”
She’s also passionate about educating parents and children about healthy food choices. “As I have children of my own, you have this overwhelming desire to ensure they’re perfectly looked after. I have made a commitment to try and help families who may not even know better, how to make delicious food that is healthy. Since leaving MasterChef, this has been a goal of mine. I do healthy demonstrations across Australia and now my 13 year old daughter has been signed for her first demo as well. Teaching very simple dishes but ones that children can make.”
She is looking forward to her time in South Africa. “I have always had a fascination with South Africa and it’s actually my favourite accent in the entire world - I will be content just to sit and listen to everyone talking! As for food I am a vegetarian/vegan so a lot of the classic foods like potjiekos and bobotie will be off limits to me, but I think it will be interesting to see if I can convert some of these to being vegetarian! One thing I cannot wait to have is vegetarian bunny chow. I have made that in Australia and I bet mine is nowhere as good as the real deal from South Africa. I also can’t wait to try real melktert! My ouma is from Holland and I knew she would love it so I made it for her once!”
So has she had any more tattoos done since she left the MasterChef kitchen? “I had my whole back finished off. I had the outline done before MasterChef but I endured another four hours to have it coloured in. That’s been the last one so far - maybe Johannesburg or Durban could be the location for my next?”
The Durban Good Food & Wine Show takes place from October 30 to November 1 at the Durban Exhibition Centre in association with Durban Tourism. Go to www.goodfoodandwineshow.co.za