Twenty-seven year old amateur cook from Slovakia Veronika Danišová alias Besky is the latest winner of TV Nova's MasterChef culinary competition. For the first time in the history of this competition, the final episode had three women competing for both prestige and one million crowns. Interestingly, the filming of the competition ended in the spring, so everyone had to keep quiet until the winter. Not only was no one allowed to reveal the name of the winner, but Besky was only able to claim her prize now. In an interview for LP-Life.com, we talked with this charming Slovakian not only about cooking, but also about the current times which are not very good for business.
It was my mother. We've travelled all my life; I was born in Norway and when I was four I was in Thailand, Sri Lanka. We travelled halfway around the world with my family, so global gastronomy has been near and dear to me all my life. With the internet actually in its infancy twenty years ago, my mother cooked by heart. She was trying new recipes like Chicken Satai, Pad Thai and that kind of dishes using Slovak ingredients. That was very funny, and I've had such a love for cooking ever since.
When I experienced this phenomenal finale, I was in a circle of my loved ones who were also there. So we celebrated, and then we thought, for our own good, we'd better forget about it. And so we did.
No, the lockdown helped us; we were locked up and everything was hard, so nobody was too keen to celebrate. And we kept it a big secret and we weren't even sad about it, because we knew it was coming.
I didn't find out, all I know is that the fines for any breach of confidentiality are really big. I think we all handled it great.
It has changed, it really has. A lot. It's hard to describe, but suddenly I'm actually "famous", so everything is completely different. People recognize you on the street, they greet you... it's a strange feeling, but I understand how famous actors feel. (laughs)
After the end of the filming, life went on, nobody knew anything and everybody acted as if nothing had happened. But now, of course, there must be interest in you.
I'm sure there is, I'm contacted by a lot of companies, I do a lot of interviews, which I enjoy, but when I get offers to run a restaurant or to be a chef, that's a very difficult decision for me. And so far it's all come down to me being a small fish and not a real professional, and me still learning.
Unfortunately not, because of the circumstances around COVID and the uncertain times we live in. But I look forward to the day when I can say: The world is healthy and I can start a business. But right now I don't really feel like taking on that responsibility. And not just for me, but for my employees, too.
I'm actively involved in cooking and baking classes under the auspices of two schools and I'm also working on a cookbook, which is a big dream of mine. And I am slowly starting to explore the online world with my website and e-shop.
That's just an example of the times we live in. The gas station was my baby and I took care of it for three years, gave it a concept and a life. The first lockdown got us flat broke and it was very hard to go back from that. Since we were allowed to remain open, we didn't get any subsidies. Everybody was at home and, unfortunately, people didn't travel, so with us being a small gas station, no store, just one dispenser, we weren't making money, unfortunately. It may have ended, but I'm happy because life gives me a chance to do something else.
A cookbook can cost over a million crowns (laughs). It's a lot of money, but if you team up with nice people and sponsors, you can save money. And invest in an online space, for example, which I plan to do.
The gas station was an internal income, but I had a strong external income from marketing. I was taking care of clients by creating their social networks, creating branding, campaigns... I've basically quit that too, and I only use it for myself now.
I would like to make teaching online courses my long-term activity. I am under the umbrella of two cooking academies, Grosetto and Gourmet, where I teach.
He's not interested in shows, it's not his cup of tea. It's different when you're at home cooking quietly than when there are cameras around. That's where you forget to even cut the onions. So the psyche is an important aspect.
King Crab is a sea crustacean. For the first time in my life, I came into contact with a living creature that I was supposed to process. It may make me a hypocrite, considering I'm a carnivore, but it was the first time I had to kill the creature myself. It was very difficult for me, and it's a very expensive ingredient, so I didn't want to mess it up. It was right before the end of the competition, I was under both mental and physical pressure, exhausted, plus I had messed up my dish in the previous round a lot. I went through a bit of an emotional transition to realize that food doesn't just come in packages; it has a life of its own.
In a long-ago interview with MasterChef contestant Ivka Sarauer, I learned that for her, the most emotional moment of the competition was buying food for the competition for only 300 crowns. You didn't have that task this year...
No, we had it done differently. We were limited to twenty ingredients, and we started preparing from there. So we each had a menu concept in our heads and we bought the ingredients accordingly. But then suddenly we were told to stop, switch tables. I went over to the table where Paulo had bought parsley, packaged cheese, poppy seeds and prosecco. I was completely blown away, this challenge was really funny.
They are very likeable and honest people who really always wanted to help us. I have a really extremely positive opinion of them. But we didn't interact with them, they downright segregated us so that they wouldn't be influenced in their decisions. We only had a chance to laugh together during the breaks.
Well, it speaks for itself. He's an amazing man. Calling him the Iron Man is an understatement; he stepped everything up and now everything works like a living organism, everyone knows what to do. They work from seven in the morning till one at night. Radek is the one setting the pace and it's incredible how he handles everything level-headed and with respect. He's really like the father of a big family that you can come to and confide in. He'll help you, but he demands a hundred and twenty percent performance.
I did. They took me in nicely. For me, the psychological aspect is always important, because if you feel uncomfortable in a team, it's challenging; but here, it was the opposite. I felt like I knew everyone for a long time. After spending a month and a half together, we hugged like best friends and I really felt that way. It was great, they were very supportive. Especially when I was doing something new, like de-boning an eel, making Espuma or pureeing. I always felt supported. I went through everything in that restaurant.
I try to be very apolitical. Of course, I have my opinions, but I don't like to comment on it. As a possible future businesswoman, I always hope for the best. And I also hope that I will get Czech citizenship and at least vote in the local elections (laughs).
This Christmas is completely different because I'm in such a rush. I don't have a Christmas tree, which I always had already on December 1. I might not even have one, so I'll be at my parents'. My mom is a walking Santa Claus, she's had presents prepared since May. I'm really busy this year.
There will probably be baking to show my amazing Instagram followers some recipes and try something new. Anyway, this ties in with that New Year's resolution to lose weight. I'd like to cut back a little on the sweets. I can easily eat five baking trays of Christmas cookies, it falls into me like in a bottomless pit. I have a really crazy sweet tooth.
Yes! I like to help and be beneficial. I've become a patron of the humanitarian organization Adra, that's a very satisfying thing for me. It's a long-term cause and I want to make it part of my life. So let's see what comes of it.