A year ago, Priya Barve (39) would have never imagined fighting it out for a title in the MasterChef kitchen. But, today, she is one of the top 15 contestants in the inaugural edition of MasterChef Asia, and the only one to represent India. “When the call for the auditions came in, I was vacationing in Bali. I guess it was due to the holiday mood that I ended up applying for the show,” says the marketing professional, over the phone from Singapore.
This one’s for India
Similar in format to MasterChef Australia and its variants, contestants will be seen cooking as part of various tasks, including off-site challenges. Barve’s fellow participants are from countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. “When I realised that I was the only one wearing an apron with my country’s flag on it, it made me proud and nervous at the same time,” says Barve, who has been living in Singapore for the last five years.
Like most Maharashtrians, Barve grew up watching her mother and grandmother whip up traditional fare in the kitchen. “I got interested in cooking after I got married. My husband is a Bengali and loves cooking too,” she adds. Supplementing this interest was her love for travel. Having lived in Hong Kong — before moving to Singapore — she found herself gravitating towards other styles of Asian cooking. “I picked up Japanese cuisine while in Hong Kong, which is a culinary paradise. Now, I try to mix Thai and Vietnamese influences in my food,” says Barve.
On the show, she plans to showcase her style of cooking, with lots of Indian influences. The show’s judges – Hong Kong-born Susur Lee, three-Michelin-starred Bruno Ménard and Audra Morrice, a MasterChef Australia finalist — will be assisted by popular names like Indian chef Gaggan Anand and Singaporean pastry chef Janice Wong.
MasterChef Asia will air on Star World and Star World HD, from December 25, 9pm onward.