Extreme cookout

Celebrity chef Kiran Jethwa is hard to beat in going to great lengths for food.

The host of new food show Fearless Chef braves the world's most extreme environments to uncover fascinating ingredients and unique methods of harvesting, after which he turns his spoils into mouth-watering meals.

Fearless Chef premieres on Nat Geo People (StarHub Ch 412/Singtel TV Ch 255) on Feb 17 at 9.20pm.

Jethwa, 39, told M over the phone: "The entire series has been challenging. We were always in very remote areas with tough terrains and harsh weather."

He recalled the time the Fearless Chef team travelled to Mongolia and faced temperatures as low as minus 40 deg C.

"Working in such temperatures was horrendously difficult," he said.

"We were also in the hottest region in Ethiopia where the temperature climbed to 50 deg C. It was boiling hot and we walked 25km with the camels."

Despite all that, it was worth it for Jethwa, a Kenyan born in Nairobi to an English mother and Indian father.

"At Chagan Lake in China, where it was minus 35 deg C, the fishermen used horses to haul huge catches of fish from under the ice," he said.

"It's an incredible method of harvesting, completely manual, nothing mechanised. It was intriguing, yet very humbling, to see how difficult it was.

"In Mozambique. we were spearfishing and I was trained to dive 30m down to get dogtooth tuna.

"That was physically one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Diving with no oxygen, having to swim around 30m below, spearing a big fish while dodging sharks the whole time - it was a real adrenaline rush.

"It was incredible, I loved it."

Jethwa, who did not attend culinary school, has a hospitality management degree from Manchester, UK.

He began his formal training with an apprenticeship at the Hilton hotel in Florida and worked his way up to eventually become chef-owner of one of Nairobi's premier restaurant companies, Seven Restaurants.

The influence of the different cultures in his life can be clearly seen in his cooking style.

At the age of five, he made his first dish, the English sponge pudding.

"I didn't know that I wanted to become a chef but I knew I loved cooking," said Jethwa.

"I grew up in a house where a lot of different foods were always made.

"It gave me an understanding of flavours and how to use different ingredients together from a very young age, so that has been a massive advantage for me."

natmeah@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 10, 2016.
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