Everyone’s been talking about the nail-biting and historic Masterchef Australia 2018 finale lately. But, the real man of the hour (and winner), Sashi Cheliah has been the real hero of social media when it comes to all the discussion boards. The chef was not only a consistent performer on the show, but was also one that defeated Queensland builder Ben Borsht with a historic score of 93 out of 100 to walk away with the title of MasterChef and a cash prize of 250,000 Australian dollars. We got a chance to catch up with Cheliah, and boy was he excited to talk about his journey, his love for Indian food, Kollywood and Bollywood.
“It’s pretty massive everywhere right now, and I’m just enjoying whatever is happening so far. It’s a big win for me,” says Cheliah when asked about his win. Adding more about how it all started, he says, “Cooking for me started from home. When we were kids, my mom and aunt used to cook and the kids used to watch them prepare the delicious dishes. Mom had a small café so all the boys used to help her out in the café too, but none of us were really interesting in cooking, and each had their own career path in mind. Like, I chose policing. I was a police offer earlier and then became a prison officer when I came to Australia about 6 years ago. When I moved to Australia, I really started to miss home cooked food a lot. So I started cooking regularly at home, borrowing recipes from mom, my aunt, and some from YouTube. But I always made sure to modify the recipes to bring my own touch to them.”
Sashi Cheliah celebrates his MasterChef win with family and friends.
Sashi further explains that it was the praise and support he got from everyone around him that made him apply for MasterChef. “We often used to invite people at home for various occasions like birthdays, Deepawali and other functions, and I used to cook for them. They always used to tell me that ‘your food is so good, you should open a restaurant or a café’. And, this went on for almost two to three years,” says Cheliah. “Last year I finally decided that maybe I should actually start a restaurant or a café, and MasterChef was popping up all over social media for applications at the same time. My wife is a huge fan of the show and watches every single episode and, since my family has always supported me, she pushed me to go for it. My kids are also a big reason behind applying for the show. They always used to push me and tell me that the high quality food I make isn’t just meant for home, but for more. The rest, as they say is history.”
For now, Cheliah will be starting a pop-up in Melbourne that will have a mix of Indian and South East Asian food on the menu, but he says that his plans for starting a restaurant still stand strong. “I do plan to open a restaurant in the future, and have decided to employ ex-convicts with an experience in the food industry for it. It will be my way of giving them a second chance at a better life,” says Cheliah.
Cheliah also says that he is very connected to his Indian roots and he also remains in constant touch with his relatives back in India. Indian food too is an everyday thing at the Cheliah household and rice is a staple for the family. But, the love for Bollywood and Kollywood movies surpasses every other for Cheliah. “I absolutely love to watch Kollywood and Bollywood movies. Kamal Haasan and Aamir Khan are my favourites. If I get a chance to cook for these stars, I would love to do it, and would fly all the way to India just for this. I am telling you seriously, I am just a phone call away. This would be everything! I can also guarantee that I’ll be the first one to go and watch Vishwaroopam 2 when it is out,” exclaims the chef. “I haven’t got any opportunity to cook in India yet, since I haven’t received any calls. But, come on India! Don’t wait. Call me! I would love to cook in the country and can’t wait to come to India. It would be a very exciting journey.”
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First Published: Aug 10, 2018 17:46 IST