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LSBU alumna wins MasterChef Sweden

05 September 2013

London South Bank University alumna Jennie Wallden has won first-place in the Swedish version of the MasterChef television programme (Sveriges mästerkock).

Having graduated with an MSc in International Marketing from LSBU, Wallden returned to her native Sweden to begin her career in marketing. It was, however, her lifelong passion for cooking and support from her husband that motivated her to audition for popular cooking show MasterChef.

"I first saw the show on TV last year and I absolutely loved it," explains Wallden. "It was so exciting and I would commentate like it was a football game. Then my husband suggested I should apply, so I did!

"It's strange because I only went into it thinking it was just a fun adventure. I am now living my dream."

One of 2,000 applicants, she admits it was a nerve-wracking experience.

"It was a totally new situation for me to be in front of the TV cameras, let alone cooking in front of TV cameras!

"Although I was nervous, I still got a thrill and tried to put this adrenalin to good use. Once I got into 'cooking mode', I was able to completely focus on that. This worked in my favour because I didn't really feel the pressure. I wanted to win so I knew I needed to perform at my best."

Wallden was born in South Korea and moved to Sweden at six. It was these first few years living in North Asia that made a mark, recalling her first forays into the world of food.

"I had always been interested in cooking since I was a child and I remember spending a lot of time with my grandma in the kitchen. So my interest came quite early.

"I remember the first thing I made. It was my second day in Sweden and I had never even seen bread or butter, but I made sandwiches for parents. I cut the bread and then chopped the parsley which I collected from my mum's garden."

The first dish that Wallden cooked on MasterChef was a beef carpaccio with Korean flavours—a culinary theme that she has continued to use with great success.

As winner of the competition, Walldon received £25,000 and a publishing contract to write her own cookbook. Flavours in my heart: Korea meets West has been released in Sweden.

Wallden graduated from LSBU in 2002, choosing the university because of its culturally diverse and international student population. She recently spoke with LSBU's alumni association.

"I still keep in touch with many former classmates. We are spread across the world; some are based in Singapore, Barcelona, Copenhagen and London. We try to have regular reunions and see each other once a year."

Wallden now plans to write another cookbook and is also considering the many offers she's had to open a restaurant. She has embarked on a prawn-fishing expedition to Greenland and will also travel to South Korea in October to be a panellist at the Molecular Frontiers Foundation's annual symposium with various Nobel Prize nominees and recipients.

"When you graduate, you begin work and then meet your partner to start a family. Life happens and you can sometimes lose the time to realise the dreams you had. But winning MasterChef has given me the opportunity to live my dream."

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