Ketan Makwana - Why Masterchef was just the dish for starting my own business

During countless telephone interviews with Masterchef researchers Shine Productions I quickly learnt I had to become adept at selling myself, outlining not just my passions, but the reasons why this processes I had in mind would work.

After convincing the producers to give me an audition, I was told to prepare a dish to serve in front of the judges while being interviewed to camera. I needed a dish that not only could I stay in control of while under pressure and talking (I am a man, after all!) but also a dish that would make me stand-out from the competition and be remembered.

My audition masterpiece was a Trio of Chicken (one part tandoori, one part cooked in tequila and chilli and the other part in olive oil and paprika) served on a bed of rocket, cherry tomatoes and pomegranate seeds and an olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette.

Different enough to catch the imagination of the judges, but which also allowed me to come up with a process to stay nice and organised. I put all my components in different cases and ordered them so I knew when I came to plate, everything would have a sequence.

I created a seamless presentation while conversing and lyrically caressing the judging panel... it worked! I was through to the TV show.

I had a few weeks to prepare for the show so put it to good use practising dishes, timing, learning about ingredients, ensuring I wasn't taking anything for granted.

When it came to the actual show, it was a totally nerve wracking experience. The cameras, lights, interviews add to the intensity and as the filming starts it's so easy to get muddled and panic - 50 minutes is not long to cook a meal with a bunch of mystery ingredients and a room full of expectation!

But this is the time to stay cool, focus and put your knowledge into practice.

In the end I didn't progress to the final of Masterchef, but the experience of being expected to deliver a final product which will be heavily scrutinised under intense pressure in a short space of time is something I will never forget.

In life and business you usually don't get long to make the right impression, so it's essential you're prepared.

People starting their own business usually don't have 'business experience' so trying to pre-empt business challenges is next to impossible - as the saying goes, 'you don't know what you don't know until it's too late'.

However, the mindset to how you overcome these challenges is often already mapped out for you in how you approach your daily life, or in my case, a high octane cookery competition.

Business like any other part of your life is a journey of self realisation, inner test and the euphoria of success. However many challenges come and pass, you just have to adapt your mindset to overcome them.


Ketan Makwana is the founder of SMARK-IT, The Medical Marketing Consultancy and His passion is in developing businesses and as a Youth Enterprise Ambassador enjoys mentoring Young Entrepreneurs. Ketan is a board member of the Careers Academy Programme at Lambeth College and Ambassador of the London Programme Challenge which promotes employability skills through business based challenges carried out by students.

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