Chef David Higgs has been pushing the boundaries of his comfort zone since he s tepped into a kitchen, so being a judge on My Kitchen Rules has been no different. On August 13, the first episode of My Kitchen Rules South Africa (MKRSA) was aired and the duo of musician J’Something and Higgs greeted viewers as judges.
Higgs was thrust into the spotlight and said it took some time to get comfortable in front of the cameras.
“There’s a massive difference for me from the first few episodes to where we are now (semi-finals). I was always allowed to be myself but I just loosened up along the way,” says Higgs.
He’s become more vocal with the participants after the home restaurant stage and the show moved to the My Kitchen Rules headquarters.
Higgs drills it into the remaining pairs that they are now “cooking for a million rand”, and he does it with passion and a sense of urgency.
This is a trait he has had throughout his career, from the early ’90s when he was cooking breakfasts at Cape Town hotels and then winning the Young Chef of South Africa from Chaine de Rottisseurs (1993), which is an international society devoted to choice dining.
And Higgs knows what pressure the cooks are under because he also competed in the kitchen – from 1997 to 2004, Higgs was a member of the SA National Culinary Team and represented SA at the Culinary World Cup. Higgs will also point out he has learnt a few things from the home cooks on the reality show.
“With home cooking, it’s such a huge reminder of our past and the smells that triggered memories. Up until then I can’t remember when was the last time I was reminded my granny made things like overcooked meat,” he said.
“I love that people get to see food from across the country and that it might also trigger special memories for them.”
Now that the show has it’s first finalists Charnell and Kerry, tonight it’s a battle between mother and daughter Lani and Louzel from Cradock, and Bloemfontein husband and wife Jamandi and Machiel for the final spot in next Sunday’s final.
But looking forward to the next season of My Kitchen Rules, Higgs has some advice for anyone considering entering.
“One of the biggest things we look for are food stories, people and places rich in food heritage. We want to hear those stories about people and why they love the food they love to make,” he says.
Top class food skills are almost a secondary requirement for Higgs who comes across as one who knows that anyone who puts passion and love into what they serve will be serving their best.
“For me it’s all about the food stories and what you identify with. The pair that has that are winners,” he adds.
My Kitchen Rules SA is broadcast on M-Net channel 101 on Sundays at 6pm.