Sara Danesin Medio applied for MasterChef in 2011, thinking she would have little success. Nine years later, after making it to the finals, she is the owner of York’s first dining club, situated on St John Street, near York Minster.
To add to the many reasons why Sara remains an inspiration to a future generation of cooks is her dedication as an intensive care nurse, working gruelling hours to save lives during the peak of COVID-19.
After becoming frustrated over the lack of progression in her career, Sara decided to apply for MasterChef. Her experience on the renowned culinary contest has permitted her “to share [her] knowledge and passion for food” with aspiring cooks, both during the show and since. Whilst students often feel pressure to settle into a fixed job post-university, Sara’s success suggests this is not the only option; she advises students to “follow your heart and love what you do”. The two ingredients she firmly believes in are “courage” and “passion”, maintaining that young people will achieve success if such qualities are added to the recipe of life.
Sara explained that in a male-dominated profession “there is the preconception that females cannot be good chefs because of the unsociable hours”, hours in which they are expected to be taking care of their families. Although she has encountered numerous female pastry chefs, Sara said that working in a kitchen can be an “intimidating” environment. For women who want to pursue a career in cooking, Sara advocates “keeping your head down and working hard”, remaining “unprovoked by the misogyny, and having a strong personality”. For freshers, particularly young women, due to enter the working world in which gender inequality still exists, Sara’s advice to remain a “strong person” is quintessential.
During the MasterChef competition, Sara stated that she was “very determined”, a quality which is essential if you want to “learn from the bad days…and to keep your feet on the ground”. When asked how her passion for food has shaped her as a person, she revealed that “becoming a chef was all about character building”, a comment on the more experienced chefs who expressed frustration towards her in the kitchen. Overcoming any stressful environment or situation is about “believing in yourself” and “doing your best”, whether that applies to a recipe that has gone wrong, or simply a challenging essay.
For students, the same ethos of simplicity and confidence applies – Sara maintains that “basic ingredients are essential”. In a culture where ordering takeaways is seen to make up the overwhelming proportion of our culinary skills, she encourages students to apply their creativity to their cooking by “breaking free from traditional recipes”, whilst ensuring that their cupboards are full of staple products, such as “potatoes, pasta, and rice”.
Culinary shortcuts are appealing to students who may be on a tight schedule, leading Sara to suggest having frozen bags of vegetables in your freezer, whilst also encouraging batch-cooking or freezing any food that can be reheated.
The stem of Sara’s enthusiasm is crucial, speaking volumes about her work in the health sector. She said that, “food is an empowering tool; it allows you to be in control of yourself”. As a fresher, try to supress the take away temptations, and in the words of not only a talented cook, but an inspiring nurse, “be in control” of your diet.
If you would like to improve your culinary skills or simply learn the basics, sign up to one of Sara’s dining club events at [email protected] John’s Supper Club.