She is the MasterChef Italia 11 winner. Tracy Eboigbodin’s dishes embrace her dual soul: Nigerian, representing her childhood and heritage, and Italian, symbolizing her love of cooking and the future. As a result, the Veronese of Nigerian descentbrings her story to the table, which is made up of disparate but complementary realities.
Tracy was born in 1993 in Benin City, Nigeria. Already at the age of 7, she was running more than 10 kilometers while carrying almost 10 kilograms on her head. In 2006, she moved to Verona with his mother and brother; theirs was not a journey of hope but a family reunion to join her father.
“We left on April 17, 2006, late at night, and arrived in Milan about 6 hours later,” she says on social media. “It was the first time we took a plane, the first time we travelled outside of the country, and after such a short trip, we seemed to be in another world, or rather on another planet. The air, sky, sounds, scent, colours, and people were all different. Everything was new to us, and we felt like little fish out of water.”
But from that moment on, the difficult period began. The anxiety, the feeling of inadequacy, and the fear of not being able to bring a hot meal to the table. Tracy began working as a waitress in a hotel where she would stay for many years, an important part of her life that also led her to approach the world of cooking. “I’ve always thought that waiters are not just carriers of dishes but are real messengers of the chef,” she explained during the program that made her famous.
Tracy Eboigbodin won MasterChef Italy 11 with “L’abbraccio” (the embrace).
In 2011, the Verona native appeared on Italy’s most popular culinary show. And she arrives with a clear message: she eats not to feed her body but to nourish her spirit, since in Nigeria, those who cook must be happy. That is why she served “Terra mia,” a dish of fried rice with crispy vegetable liver, celery, lettuce, and ginger emulsion, which conquered the judges. But another menu, “L’abbraccio,” declared the chef’s victory. It depicts the power of cohabitation between the two cultures.
The menu “L’abbraccio” consisted of four courses. La Gondola and Niger, a codfish mantecato with spices, black garlic mayonnaise, parsley sponge, and turmeric wafer, were the appetizers. The dish paid homage to two culinary traditions: on the one hand, cod, a Venetian classic, and on the other, African spices. She then served Ravioli with Goat as a first course, a semi-transparent ravioli filled with beaten goat in cilantro sauce and flavored Greek yogurt spheres. More than a meal, it was a voyage across Asian culture, from Africa (with the filling) to South America (with the cilantro).
Tracy then went on to the main dish, which was Iberian pork pluma with butter sauce and fried plantain chips, with steaming plantain as per Nigerian tradition. Finally, the dessert that concluded the jaw-dropping menu was a Three Chocolate Mousse with shortbread crumble and mango sauce. Three chocolates reflecting the colour of skin merged into one, joined by the mango, expressing the merger of Tracy’s two souls.
Following MasterChef, Tracy published Soul Kitchen, in which she demonstrated how to cook basic foods utilizing ingredients found throughout Africa. With the same spirit, she is now extensively followed on social media, where she is always teaching new recipes and sharing African culinary rarities, according to the philosophy “Simplicity does not equal triviality.”