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TOP 10 Controversies of Masterchef Australia 13ís Depinder Chhibber

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Old 07-21-2021, 01:19 PM
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Default TOP 10 Controversies of Masterchef Australia 13ís Depinder Chhibber

Exclusive – Masterchef Australia 13’s Depinder Chhibber: My fondest memories of Indian cuisine is having golgappas in Delhi

Indian origin contestant Depinder Chhibber won hearts presenting one delectable dish after the other in Masterchef Australia S13. ETimes TV caught up with Depinder, who spoke to us from Australia, about her love for Indian cuisine, home food and how the reality cooking show opened a massive door of opportunity. A self-confessed home cook, Depinder takes us through her Masterchef journey, shares her culinary experience and also where she went wrong in the elimination task. Pic: MasterChef Australia

From being a home cook to Masterchef Kitchen, how did you prepare yourself?

To be honest, I didn’t practice too much. I was just doing things which I know how to cook. Even in my Masterchef journey, I was cooking a lot of things that I am extremely familiar with. There were certain challenges we didn’t have a choice and had to cook with ingredients we were not familiar with. Especially with mystery boxes when we had to think out of the box… so there’s only basics which you can prepare. The knife s****s, cooking with different types of proteins are a few things to know but other than that you really can’t do much. You can cook the style of food you cook and make sure it's seasoned properly. At home, I cook very simple food… it is a mix of vegetarian, non vegetarian, north, south, gujarati… a bit of everything. I tried to showcase that kind of food on the show. Pic: MasterChef Australia

How challenging was it for you to make those prompt decisions during the pressure tests?

The biggest challenge was to be decisive and as a person I am quite decisive. But when you are in a kitchen, the moment the challenge is given and you have to think about executing your dish properly and so many things keep ideating in your mind. You keep thinking whether to do sweet or savoury or who all are cooking with you. But everything comes down to your trust in your cooking and executing it. There were times when we didn’t even know what the next person was cooking because we would be so focused. During the pressure tests, you have to be decisive about what to take to the judges and what to leave behind. One small change can take you back home. Pic: MasterChef Australia

Tandoori chicken, smoked lassi to giving dabba food in a Bento box, how confident were you about your Indian representation that they have an edge over other international dishes in the MasterChef kitchen

I love the word ‘dabba food’. When I was cooking the Bento box, I really enjoyed that task. When I lifted the lid of the Bento box, I thought it needed to be Japanese or something else… I was like ‘uh’ coz I love eating Bentos. But the moment Andy (Allen) said ‘you can cook whatever you like’. It was great because Bento box looks like a thali. The challenge was to fill those every single box. Seeing that I have to make at least 5 items, the only thing that comes to my mind is home food. We cook 3-4 things simultaneously at home all the time. It came naturally to me. Throughout my entire journey, I didn’t think about the consequences or the fact that this could land me in the top or the bottom. Even the fire challenge, it was fun to cook for me. I cooked with uncharted elements. Cooking on fire is very different and I just told myself that I am going to have fun. And it ended up benefiting me. It was unique, nice and well suited to the challenge. The smoked lassi was indeed an experiment. We had a Masterclass prior to the challenge where we were shown how to use smoke as a flavour. So, I thought of using it in a lassi. We either make lassi or chhaas…who makes smoked lassi! The cooks that have been amazing are those items which I really enjoyed cooking. Pic: MasterChef Australia

Was it intimidating at times when judges Jock, Andy and Melissa would come to chat up by your station?

Yes, absolutely. Cooking the food was just one aspect of it. But then you have to convey the food to the judges… you have to explain what you have cooked and why you have cooked and why you think this suits the challenge. Half the time it comes intuitively. Sometimes you are taking a bit of a risk. The judges are very well-versed when it comes to Indian cuisine. And I was really fortunate about it as I didn’t have to go out of my way to explain it to them. They have eaten plenty of Indian food, especially Jock (Zonfrillo) in the UK. Indian food is massive there. It is quite intimidating when the judges are tasting your food. That’s the kind of food you make at home. It’s very humble. It’s something that doesn’t belong in a restaurant. If I am going to open up a restaurant in Indian serving home food, who will come to it? Barely anybody. People want fancy food at a restaurant. Culturally, I feel Indian food is home food. The fact that the judges liked my home food, made me feel a little less intimidated. It comforted me and gave me more confidence that I am on the right path. Pic: MasterChef Australia

Looking back at your elimination task, where you had to work with Australian native spices, do you think you could have changed any element that might have helped you stay longer?

The problem that day was the choice of the dish I prepared. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t cook it properly. The dish tasted good and the judges were delighted. I think I should have made something that was true to me. I wanted to incorporate native spices into Indian food and at the same time I was really nervous. I think that’s what the test and pressure does to you. You make decisions on the fly where, sometimes they work for you and sometimes they don’t. I wasn’t too confident that if I use Indian and native ingredients, will they shine? In the hindsight, the only thing I feel I would have changed is to go with something that I am familiar with. Pic: MasterChef Australia

When did your tryst with cooking begin and when did you realise that now you are ready for MasterChef?

I don’t remember a time when I was not cooking. I would cook with my grandmother, my mom, my aunt and even at home I always cook. Masterchef, I have been watching since season 1. I am a fan of Masterchef. You get to see stuff you've never heard of. You get to learn so much about food. This show is the benchmark of cooking… specially for home cooks like us. If there was any cooking show I wanted to apply to, it was Masterchef. I always said to myself that I would apply one day but I was never confident. I filled my application 3-4 times and only submitted it last year. I thought Covid-19 is here and we have been cooking so much at home, who knows if we will ever get this opportunity again… it was now or never. I closed my eyes and clicked ‘submit’ and the rest is history. Pic: MasterChef Australia

Did you have the slightest bit of idea of earning so much love from the Indian audience?

Truly speaking I didn’t have any idea. I didn’t have the idea that Indian people even watch masterchef. The old judges would go to India and I knew there was craze, but I really didn’t think to this extent. When you are cooking under so much stress, these don’t click. All I was trying to do was to make sure not to present a dish where judges go ‘meh’. It’s an Australian cooking show, I didn’t have 1% inkling that it’s so famous. I get so many messages from India, I can’t even count. I try to get back to them and reply to them as much as I can. I also get messages from other places. People are watching from all over the world and that’s a really nice feeling. For home cooks like us, it makes you relate to people. People watching in India, they can relate to us. They’ll be like, ‘She is making food that we eat at home’. I am not making food that is unachievable. It’s just different ways of preparing. I am an ordinary person. Pic: MasterChef Australia

What are your earliest memories that you can recollect of Indian cuisine?

My earliest memories are of having golgappa in Delhi with my parents. We would go around a corner and there was this person Chandu…he would make the best golgappas. I was very small and my mouth was this small. The only thing that would fit into my mouth was the big golgappa. I never took a bite. I shoved the whole thing into my mouth. I still do that now. That’s one of the most best memories ever. I would also ask for the sweet one. We used to go out a lot and my parents never stopped us from eating anything. We used to go to Nirula’s a lot. I have so many memories of food and the credit goes to my parents. Pic: MasterChef Australia

Were there special requests from your family members to cook any of the dishes that you prepared in Masterchef?

All the time. I have a big list and it keeps growing. I am just cooking food I like to eat right now because I am craving home food. I cook a lot of simple vegetarian food. My husband requested to make biryani as he didn’t have my prepared biryani for six months. I cooked that. There are many things that my family and relatives have requested and some of them I haven’t made ever. So yes, I have to try them out. Pic: MasterChef Australia

Now, how do you plan to craft your own future in the food industry?

Masterchef has just been a massive door of opportunity that opened for me. My food dream was to always write a cookbook. I absolutely love cookbooks. I was reading a cookbook before we started talking. I am either reading a cookbook or thinking about what cook book I need to buy. Right now, I am kind of researching and collecting the recipes that I have learnt and evolved. It will be a collection of recipes from my grandparents and everyone. I am looking forward to compiling these recipes, which everyone can relate to. Many people are intimidated about Indian spices and it will cater to them as well. (Pic: MasterChef Australia)

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