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This Kashmir-born MasterChef contestant is making Australia fall in love with garam masala

This Kashmir-born MasterChef contestant is making Australia fall in love with garam masala
Sandeep Pandit

Sandeep Pandit had no idea going into MasterChef Australia Season 11 — that his cooking on the show would earn him the tag ‘Spice Angel’. Though he did get eliminated, it wasn’t before the 37-year-old IT project manager created waves with his Smoked Lobster Masala — that he tells us was touted ‘dish of the season’. And now, Sandeep is gearing up to start his own brand of spices, led by his version of the popular Kashmiri garam masala powder.

This is apart from a restaurant called Barbeque and Biryani, which, undoubtedly, is a larger project that he hopes to start in Melbourne and then, with collaborators expand to Bengaluru and Mumbai. “The world does not know us as a country that does good barbeques, and I think that’s a pity because I think we do an incredible job at it,” says Sandeep. “There isn’t an exact date, but we hope to get operational by the middle of next year,” he adds.

Whipping up a storm in the kitchen while interacting with Matt Preston


The past several months have been quite a rollercoaster ride for Sandeep — from coaching housemates behind-the-scenes how to spice their shellfish the Indian way to winning an immunity pin to a severe back ailment that eventually cost Sandeep his apron in the end because he was in too much pain to cook. For Sandeep, however, the biggest highlight of the whole experience was getting his MasterChef apron. “When I think back, it was one of the most powerful moments of my life,” he shares sentimentally. “I will always thank the three judges for giving that moment to me, it is from that moment onwards that a lot of people in the world will remember me, as well... ”

Speaking of the judges, it is widely known after the controversy around George Calombaris, that the judge will not be returning next season. So we did ask what George was like as a mentor, in person. Sandip responds, “All the three judges to me were great mentors. It shows in my demeanour because I started my journey in the MasterChef Kitchen by touching their feet and I ended it by their touching their feet.”

MasterChef Australia Season 11 premieres in India on September 16 at 9 pm on Star World.

sonali@newindianexpress.com | @brightasunshine


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