Sandeep is now a successful chef and a social media icon. He recently came down to Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach, where we caught up with him for a freewheeling chat.
In his own words, life took a 360-degree turn after he entered the eleventh season of MasterChef Australia as the only Indian contestant. With a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master's in Business Administration, Sandeep moved to Australia for work, little did he know that he would end up featuring such a widely popular cooking reality show. Sandeep made a variety of Indian dishes on the show, but his spin on lemon rice created a sensation. Sandeep is now a successful chef and a social media icon. He recently came down to Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach, where he, along with MasterChef India 2019 Season 6 contestant Natasha Gandhi and the hotel’s Executive Chef Jerson Fernandes, hosted an Australian-themed BBQ. He also sat down with us for a candid chat later on, excerpts...
1. What brings you to Novotel Mumbai? Can you talk to us about the event?
I’m back to Novotel Juhu, to cook up a fantastic feast using my ‘The Spice Angel’ series of traditional spices. My menu also showcases the art of slow cooking and smoking food on charcoal
2. When did you start cooking, what inspired you to choose this field?
I’ve been cooking since the age of 9. It started as an effort to help my mom in the kitchen but soon turned into my happy place. After the turmoil and persecution that my family had suffered in Kashmir, my kitchen was my safe place from an otherwise hard childhood.
3. How did life change after you entered MasterChef Australia
My life turned 360 degrees from a fame perspective. However, MasterChef Australia was also a personal journey within for me. It taught me humility and the value of time. I was also learning things that I had never learnt before
4. Do you often cook for family. Are expectations at home high?
I cook at home everyday! Cooking is my way to relax and create. It’s my art and my prayer! The expectations from my food are always high. My 11-year-old son had once famously declared, that only I am supposed to cook for him, as he doesn’t get the same ‘taste’ from anyone.. hahaha
5. Can you share one of your fondest memory associated with food.
One of my all-time fondest memory of food is making my first cup of tea for my mom. She had come back from the office and I wanted to surprise her. I was just over 9 years old and tried to remember the way in which she made tea. It must have been the most horrible cup of chai, but she had tears in her eyes, as she saw me and my little sister bring her some tea. Her joy was evident in her eyes. I reckon that motivated me to bring joy with food, and I hope I always bring that joy to people
6. What is your comfort food.
My comfort food is Dal, Rice, Papad, salad and pickle. This is my go to food after a long service in the kitchen or after a hard day at work
7. A celebrity you would love to cook for.
I’d have loved to cook for Dr. Abdul Kalam sir! He is one of the greatest Indians ever. It’s a wish that will never come to fruition in this world. But in my prayers and in spirit, I offer him food sometimes.
8. Your favourite kitchen tool.
My favourite kitchen tool are my tongs at my Melbourne home! It is such a versatile tool and I love using it on my charcoal grill and in Kitchen!
9. A food trend that really got you excited.
I get excited when I watch experienced chefs recreate traditional flavours in a modern avatar. Or , when someone tries the traditional flavours of one cuisine into another dish in other cuisines. This is how the global food evolved and it’s super exciting, as you never know what experience will you get!
10. Your pet peeve when you are dining out
A lack of service and smile is my pet peeve while dining out! Food is only as good as the attitude of the person who’s serving it, hence it is super important to have a pleasant ‘service’ experience.