Fast Confession - The cook from MasterChef Ivka Sarauerová: If it weren't for my mother, I would end up on the street with my kids
When you see her on TV smiling behind the hot pans, it never occurs to you that this woman has had a rather difficult journey. Iva Sarauerová can cook and she bakes cakes even better. Her figure is absolutely perfect, because in her free time she enjoys fitness at a competitive level. At the same time, she is also a mother of two growing boys, which she has to manage on her own. The fact that her life seems to be perfect now and everything is going well is redeemed by a relatively high price that has taken its toll on her mental health. In an interview for LP-life.com, Iva talked about what she had to go through to get where she is now.
You're in MasterChef, you work out, you bake cakes. What does the state of emergency mean for you?
I have to say for myself that I can hardly feel it, perhaps only that I sometimes go to the store and need to return to the car for a mask. The only thing I'm a little afraid of is that if there was a lockdown, I'd have the kids at home, I'd probably feel that a lot. That will probably be an emergency (laughs).
They don't want to be at school?
The younger Hugo, he's nine, told me that he doesn't want to be locked up at home, that he doesn't like to do school work through the computer. It's annoying, even for me.
What about the gyms? They are closed.
That's another thing. What can you do.
Do you work out in some other way?
So far I've exercised twice at home, but it's kind of a parody of a training. I don't like to work out at home, I definitely hate it. It's something else to sit on the bike for an hour at home, I don't mind, I'll take care of messages during that. But you just can't replace a gym and dumbbells at home. I feel it, it's true.
Will you have a competition soon?
That's the question. I thought so, that I was going to the competition in December, but my preparation is very complicated. I also have health problems, so I start working out and then something happens again, whether health or work-wise, there's a lot going on right now. I definitely don't have the form for a competition now. I don't even know, as I'm keeping watch on what's going on, whether they've postponed it or completely canceled. You don't know what's up these days and if you should even prepare for things.
What made you sign up for MasterChef?
I wasn't the one who came up with it, it wasn't my ambition and goal at all. My beloved cousin Lucinka registered me. I thank her for that.
But you must also have some talent for it. You make cakes the most.
I make cakes. I've loved cooking since I was little. Of course, ever since I'm alone with the boys, it's not the cooking all the time anymore, I'm eating my diet and making quick meals. But I've always cooked. When I was on maternity leave, I made the classics, roast sirloin in sour cream sauce, tomato sauce, dumplings, roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut.
But you had to because of your guy, didn't you?
Yes. I invited friends and acquaintances a lot, also because of my husband. I cooked a lot, sometimes twice a day.
What is it like to cook and know that someone will judge seriously?
You start to look at it completely differently, you look at it from a completely different perspective. It's something else to cook at home just like that and for the boys, here you want to show the best that's in you and suddenly you find out that you don't really know anything, you can't do anything. You start to improve, to study. So after filming, I didn't have much time, I went to see the boys in the evening to spend some time with them for a while and then back to the hotel, because we slept in the hotel. You try to read cookbooks, watch YouTube and learn.
Until then, you were doing it the way you used to.
Yes, I'm a self-taught cook. When I was younger and I was learning to cook, I might have called my mom sometimes, but I was never the type to cook according to recipes. I cooked intuitively.
You had an emotional, teary moment in the competition.
There were probably more of those. It was at the very beginning, the first challenge. You lift the box and expect to find ingredients, but there were photos from your childhood or photos sent by the family. Most of the contestants had a photo from their childhood there, I had a photo where I'm standing in a bikini in a competition form, holding a cake in my hand. At that time, I made a cake for my first swimsuit competition. I broke up with my coach back then, and I also recalled, how my husband failed to support me in it, the emotions from the first competition. I cried a lot, I couldn't hold it back.
You cried in another challenge where you all shopped. Why?
That challenge was very nice, interesting. We got a hundred CZK and for that we had to buy ingredients and cook some great, MasterChef dish for that.
And that works?
It really works. It doesn't matter what I cooked, but after the call, you always go to the confession booth, where they really push you. It's cut and the audience only sees a few seconds of it, but you're there for ten minutes at least and they ask you a lot of personal questions, they try to get the emotions out of you. I don't remember much anymore, it's been almost a year since it was filmed.
I think they asked me at the time if I had ever experienced the feeling of counting money and not having any. Of course, you remember that when you end up with the kids alone, you have to support them and you don't have the money, suddenly you find yourself with a bare ass in an apartment the cost of which you can't really afford. They go deep under your skin, they want to pull it out of you to make you cry.
There was a time when I had to take from the kids' money box. It was annoying and of course they'd put it there. Of course, I always returned the money to the boys afterwards and they knew it. But the feeling of standing in a store with a cell phone in hand and calculating on a calculator what you can buy, because you have three hundred in your wallet, is terrible, and I never want to experience it ever again.
Why did it happen? Didn't your husband support you?
We've been together for eighteen years. Our relationship was built on solid pillars of love, we loved each other terribly, we had children and then somehow it all started. But I think after years together it was just more fun for him to go out for a beer in the evening. He had other interests than caring for his wife, or his family. He didn't support me much in anything, I'd even say he put me down a little. He humiliated me a lot.
How did it happen, from such a great love?
I think there was a lot of pressure when I had two maternity leaves behind me. I was in a total social isolation, it was awful, when I think of it now. To be after two maternity leaves, to have had no job in between, and to keep taking care of the children and the household all at the same time. I understand that there was probably a lot of pressure on him as well because of the mortgage and the credit and having to feed us. But his escapes were always to the beer.
But it wasn't like I told to myself one day that it couldn't go on like this. I spent five years screaming in the dark. I said we should deal with it, that there's something wrong here, but he didn't want to. He saw no problem, he was clearly deaf and blind to it. He absolutely didn't see my value, I was like a rag on a stick. When you have totally no support in anything… He really wasn't treating me very well. I have to say that those last five years, I've really just been crying into my pillow at home.
Maybe someone would have left from such dysfunctional marriage a long time ago. It's easy to say that, but when you have two children and are completely empty-handed, peniless, and you're dependent on your husband... I tried to make money on my own, I worked on gardens...
Yes, you have a degree in garden architecture.
I worked on gardens here and there, on top of it I was already making cakes at home during my maternity leave. I really enjoyed it, it was an escape from the reality for me. He was having beer in the evenings and I was making cakes, because I was also making a lot of modeled cakes.
I also started running a lot during that time, after thirty it kind of snapped. In retrospect, I can probably see why I started jogging, because I felt the best outside. I also experienced a running addiction, I had to run at least ten or fifteen kilometers a day, otherwise I couldn't fall asleep in the evening. But my knees acted up, then I had to have a few surgeries and quit the running. But that led me to fitness, where I met Míša. My coach and a friend who treated me nicely, believed that I could succeed at something and he was like my soulmate. He poured blood into my veins.
He is our amazing Czech bodybuilder and a great person. We started to hang out a lot and I think thanks to him I'm here now. I'd say he got me out of that hell.
What about your husband? Did he mind that you suddenly started doing whatever you liked?
It hurt his ego so deeply that he took revenge on me. He cut himself off completely and left us. The psychologist advised us not to make any hasty decisions, to take a short break and time to think, but he met someone else and left us. He immediately started living with her, and in two and a half months she became pregnant.
What about the boys?
Terrible. The problem was that he started causing trouble. He tried to throw us out of the apartment where we had lived all our lives, it was the worst period of my life (crying).
If it weren't for my mom, I don't know what would've happend to us. She helped me a lot. Not only financially, but mentally. I owe her a lot. I remember back then that I was on antidepressants for half a year.
The lawyer then advised me to apply for support, I think it's called "maintenance obligation towards my wife", to have the same standard of living as him, because I really didn't have any money at all. Based on that, he wanted to put me in court for making cakes illegally, while I was only trying to feed the children.
I knew I didn't feel like doing the gardens anymore, and I was drawn more to the cakes. I was faced with the decision to make business out of it. But that means suddenly paying health and social insurance, mainly you have to have a professional kitchen as a confectioner. My lawyer told me that I had to make the business if she took me to court. So I really did it then. I'm laughing now, because thanks to him, I'm here now. Thanks to his lack of support and what he was like.
This is a very open confession, I haven't told my whole story publicly anywhere.
But now you're fine, at least that's how you appear. Thanks to MasterChef, you have more orders, you're more visible.
I'm definitely very happy for all this.
Your husband probably sees you on TV too...
I don't think he cares much.
You're not in touch?
We're always in touch when we meet in court.
Doesn't he see the children sometimes?
He sees them once every two weeks for the weekend. They're mostly with their grandmother, but he sees them. Once every two weeks he has them for two hours in the afternoon. But we don't see each other much. I don't even have the need to see him.
Are the boys okay?
I think so now.
Are they proud of you?
They are, very much.
After all, they see you on TV.
They don't pay that much attention anymore, I'm on TV and they're on their phones. It's been running for a long time now, they're not so excited about it as before. But they're definitely proud, even among their friends, for example.
Would you like to have your own patisserie one day?
Certainly. But I don't want to die from baking cakes all the time, even though it's a beautiful job.
Also very demanding.
Very. It's just that you have to buy everything, bring it over, bake it, you wash the dishes all the time. I think fifty percent of my time is just washing the dishes (laughs).
Is there anything you would like to change in your life?
The only thing I would like to change is to move out from the apartment we are in right now. It's small and terribly expensive. I've been applying for a social apartment from Prague 3 for about three months now. I have all the documents, I have to submit it this week. I really hope to get it, and if it can be bought out later as well.
What about love?
That, of course, is another thing. Love is looking for me.
Don't tell me you don't get any messages after being publicly visible now.
Definitely yes, but I'm not into that, it's not for me. I don't react much to it, I thank politely when it's a nice message, but I certainly have no ambition to meet someone over Instagram. I'd rather be alone for another year.