A young woman who only began experimenting with cooking during the first pandemic lockdown trades beers for biryanis to star in MasterChef’s latest series.
Achel Newise, who is originally from Limavady but has lived in Belfast for the past five and a half years, was working as a tour guide on the city’s ‘beer bikes’ before the coronavirus hit.
She became a “chef nominee” during lockdown after moving in with her fiancé and his mum.
“His mother was a chef in the very first vegetarian restaurant in Belfast and was so talented; She was definitely my main inspiration to start experimenting,” Rachel explained.
“I’ve started experimenting with a lot of curries and making them from scratch, like tikka masalas and kormas.
“My grandma was a baker and mum is good at cooking too, so I had a good idea of little things like this home cooking.
“But now I’m really into more exotic cuisine, especially East Asian and some Italian cuisine.
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“We don’t have many authentic Asian restaurants here, but there are many Sri Lankan and Japanese restaurants in England.”
The 22-year-old, who is believed to be one of the show’s youngest contestants, hinted that she might bring this cooking style to her signature dish when she’s on MasterChef.
John Torode and Gregg Wallace will host again tonight when the first episode airs in their quest to find Britain’s best amateur chef.
Rachel told the Belfast Telegraph she wanted to join MasterChef as a “personal challenge to test my limits”.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could really cook,” she says.
“I never thought I would get on the show.
“And to even have the chance to cook for John and Gregg is such an achievement, especially at my age.”
She added: “I have a big personality and I loved working on the bikes because I really enjoy being around people.
“But when the show comes out, I plan to open a private dining business where I could go around and make custom menus for people to take home.”
Rachel said cooking is now her “true passion”.
“It’s definitely what I’m supposed to be doing,” she insisted.
“And I just love it; Some nights I might spend a few hours making dumplings or Vietnamese chicken wings from scratch.”
Despite her exotic palette and keen talent for combining spices, the home cook said she hasn’t traveled much but would like to do so in the not too distant future.
“Spain was as exotic as I was,” she said.
“I would definitely love to do it, but I guess you could say that throughout lockdown I’ve definitely been exploring the world indirectly through my cooking and reading different recipe books.”
You can follow Rachel’s culinary journey by searching for the handle @rachelsrecipess on Instagram.
MasterChef’s latest series begins tonight at 8pm on BBC One.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/belfast-woman-rachel-newise-22-saddles-up-to-add-some-spice-to-latest-series-of-masterchef-41477724.html Belfast native Rachel Newise, 22, saddles up to add some spice to MasterChef’s latest series