I could have stayed longer in the competition, had I not hurt my back: Sandeep Pandit
Sandeep Pandit, the only Indian contestant to have participated this year in Masterchef Australia, season 11 couldn’t win the show, but he made sure that he impressed the judges with his commendable cooking skills and revealed the Indian culinary secrets to the world. In an exclusive tete-e-tete, he shared his experience in the show and talked about his upcoming ventures.
1. You took Indian food to global platform and you did so well. Do you feel you could have gone further in the show? You had a back injury too.
I keep saying that my back pretty much broke my spirit. Because from being focused completely on what to cook and how to proceed on the show, my focus shifted to am I bending too hard or can I stand for such a long time. For a great period of time, I was taking injections that would numb my back. It took my focus away from food. The competition is of the highest standards and you need to have your mind and body working together.
2.How was your experience on the show?
It has been a dream comes true. For a common man from middle class India, getting a global platform has been humbling experience. I have seen how some food heroes up, close and personal. Despite of being so successful, they carry humility as a trait and which is so nice to see.
3.How and when you realised your passion for cooking. A moment that made you realise to take it professionally
Cooking food has been my passion since childhood. I started cooking to help my mother in the kitchen. It was though for us to make our ends meet after we shifted from Kashmir to Bengaluru. At that point of time it started as chores to help my mother and gradually kitchen became my happy place. Even today it is my happy place and that’s where I go to unwind and create art. The only form of art that I know is through food. I had never thought that I would take it up professionally. But now that I have tasted what it feels like when people appreciate you of what you have cooked. I would certainly like to take it further from here.
4.Your expertise is in Indian food, do you feel that limits you in an International competition?
Not at all. I have been celebrated more for my south Indian dishes than for my kashmiri dishes. I had a good chance of winning the competition. Indian food is incredibly versatile and one could have won the competition just with the Indian food.
5.Has your education in chemical engineering helped you?
I guess yes. Because my understanding of chemistry made me understand how people perceive smell. I would always apply chemistry in my cooking. Those long hours of standing in the chemistry lab have made me accustomed to standing for long in the kitchen and cook.
6 .Gary, George and Matt are not returning for the next season of master chef Australia. What do you have to say about that?
Any particular contest is about the participants and less about the judges. It is their journey that makes the show. Life is all about change and their journey in this fabulous competition is done. As much as I am privileged for sharing the screen space with them, I am sure the next lot of judges will only add to the show.
7.What’s the journey ahead for you?
At the moment I am looking at collaborating with like minded food ambassadors and restaurants. I would like to continue my journey on TV because it is a strong medium. And would like to merchandise my garam masala. This is based on traditional Kashmiri spices that we have in Kashmir. This is the recipe of my family which I have designed from the time I have been in the kitchen. Most of the dishes that did well on the show had this garam masala inside it. It is made from 12 different spices.