Second Generation Mauritians in Britain – Master Chef Shelina Permalloo


By Kishore Teelanah

This is a continuation of success stories of children born of Mauritian parents in the UK. These children really make their parents proud by being successful academically, in their personal development, and in their culture too. It seems that the Mauritians have conditioned their children to be tough in order to survive whatever life might throw at them.

This is a story of a special lady who has made herself famous in the culinary fields especially Mauritian cuisine as well as her resilience to keep her going. Her name is Shelina Permalloo who was born and raised in Southampton, UK. She is proud of being both British and retaining strong links with her Mauritian heritage and family. Her connections, fame and charity work put her at the heart of both Mauritian and British communities.

Shelina Permalloo winning her famous prize of Master Chef, 2012

Shelina was not known to the British media until she entered her MasterChef competition in 2012. After winning this prestigious award, she became instantly famous and started her career started as a TV chef, cookery author and ‘restaurateur’. She became popular not only because of her excellent cookery skills which wowed the judges but her pleasant personality and her unmissable radiant smile. Her MasterChef final was watched on BBC by over 6.5 million viewers when she was able to demonstrate her mastery at the spicy and exotic dishes of Mauritius. With her instinctive spicing of exotic flavours, presentation and her skills, she brought Mauritian food to TV for the first time. With this, Shelina had inspired many thousands of viewers to try out her recipes at home.

Before she took part in the Master Chef competition, Shelina was working as a Project Manager in London. After winning MasterChef, she worked in various London-based restaurants. Shelina’s success and popularity went from strength to strength. She was invited to be part of the expert culinary panel for BBC Radio 4: The Kitchen Cabinet. Shelina’s exotic dishes of octopus served on marinated fennel and ginger, mutton curry and mango cannelloni filled with lime curd had really impressed the judges for her prize. Since then, Mauritius came much more under the limelight, thanks to Shelina Permalloo’s dogged determination, television coverage and friendly personality.

Shelina on the cover page of her book: Sunshine on a Plate

Shelina wrote a book: ‘Sunshine on a Plate’ in 2013 and described Mauritius as a melting pot of cultures and food reflects Creole, French, Indian, African, British and Chinese influences. The Sunshine Diet as she called it has an abundance of exotic recipes which can be prepared simply. The flavours and fragrance of the recipes are geared for healthy diets. Shelina’s recipes contain fresh ingredients, chillies, herbs, spices to make them mouth-watering.

Her career went from success to success. She was determined to write her second book: The Sunshine Diet in 2015. She did not rest on her laurel and her restless ambition to open a restaurant in Southampton came into fruition soon afterwards. She called the restaurant Lacaz Maman (Mother’s House). Shelina has also featured on Women’s Hour, The Food Programme and BBC Asian Network. Shelina’s cookery skills are highly sought after for live demonstrations at food events including BBC Good Food Show and The Cake & Bake Show.

Shelina had appeared in numerous TV programmes and returns every year as a guest judge on Channnel 4: What’s Cooking and Sunday Brunch. She had also been a guest on ITV’s Lorraine Kelly and This Morning Food Network ‘The Big Eat’. She also appeared in the Christmas Series of MasterChef in South Africa. Finally, her cookery mastery would not be complete without landing at her ancestral homeland. Shelina completed three series of Cookery in Mauritius as a guest judge.

Her popularity also made Shelina visit her ancestral country of Mauritius once again. The hotel, Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita welcomed Masterchef UK Winner Shelina Permalloo to showcase her culinary experience to the local media. This was going to be a sneak peek into the renowned chef’s modern Mauritian streetfood. This partnership illustrated the modern Mauritian street food culinary style that is the concept behind her new restaurant.

The Masterchef winner Shelina Permaloo rustling up some mouth-watering dishes in Mauritius

In 2019, Shelina had started to promote griddled Pineapple with Mango and Limedessert with Rouse Honey. She had also promoted Billington’s sugar to highlight the quality of the golden sugar, natural molasses giving unrivalled colour and flavour to her desserts. Her names in top brands like: Cuisinart, Hotpoint, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Kenwood and British Airways, just to name a few.

Shelina’s popularity has also led her to appear in Food Festivals & Cooking Classes (Hosting & Demo’s) Leith’s School of Food and Wine, Chewton Glen, BBC Good Food Shows, Foodies Festival, Taste Kuwait (by invitation), Taste Abu Dhabi (by invitation) Romsey Food and Drink Festival, Thame Food Festival, Sandringham Food Festival, Eastleigh Mela, Southampton Mela.

Immigrant families tend to have a strong and unwielding belief to shift from poverty to success, a story of hard work and striving against all odds. They see education as a life-changing and story-changing. Amongst the immigrants, Mauritian families have made sure that their offspring do even better in education, have higher than average literacy in business and science.

Mauritian-born Kishore Teelanah, Section Manager for Science in a College of Further and Higher Education, London, migrated to the UK in 1974, as a nursing student. He has over 34 years of experience in teaching, learning and education management in Science having worked in many educational establishments at different levels. He is also a mentor to final year Bioscience degree students at Kingston University.

* Published in print edition on 16 October 2020

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