Margate Meets: Chetna Makan

The Great British Bake Off: the channel-hopping show with a presenter shake-up that has been the subject of hot debate, responsible for cake-induced food comas (for me anyway) and THAT baked Alaska situation - it's totally unique and food porn at its best.

Chetna Makan lives in Thanet, has been a keen baker for some time and was originally encouraged to apply for the show by her friends. Impressively, she made the 2014 semi-finals and last year went on to win a Christmas special edition of the show - the last ever Bake Off episode on the BBC.

On the Bake Off leaving the BBC, Chetna says, "I am sad that it is moving to Channel 4 without the main team of four, but also excited to see how the program will shape up after the move". 

Now, I will happily admit that food is a huge area in my life, but although I enjoy cooking, it's not something I have a lot of time to do properly. Definitely guilty of choosing to eat out a little more than I should, I'd like to take some inspiration from Chetna, having seen her lovely book, The Cardamom Trail. With so many great restaurants in Margate, what does one of the country's best cooks do at dinner time? "I always prefer to stay in and cook, but sometimes if I've been cooking for days it's nice to get a takeaway or eat out", Chetna says. 

Inspired by her mum's cooking, Chetna has always loved baking and after having her two children, her interest in it grew. She is a creative type - a former fashion designer, and describes baking as a "perfect outlet" for her creativity. Perhaps it is this aspect of Chetna's character that led to her joining up with Turner Contemporary in 2016, when she recreated the David Chipperfield-designed building for the gallery's 5th birthday. "I was very nervous when I was baking the cake, but also very excited at the same time. It was a lot of hard work and many dozens of eggs went into it!" On how it went, Chetna said, "In the end everyone loved the cake, and the best part was everyone who was present got to eat a slice of it!" And that includes artist Tracey Emin, who cut the cake.

It was only right to find out where Thanet's baking hero rates for food locally: "I love GB Pizza - they have the best pizzas in town. I also like the food at BeBeached in Margate", she says. I asked Chetna for a recipe for a seaside-themed dish (this is Margate after all!) and she recommended this delicious prawn curry, which looks all kinds of dreamy. 

Having released The Cardamon Trail last year, Chetna describes wanting to "introduce colourful spices, aromatic herbs and other Indian ingredients into traditional Western baked favourites". Her first book, it showcases Chetna's interesting ways of matching foods and flavours. 

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