MasterChef India 3 winner: Everyone around me called me a 'duffer'
Delhi boy Ripu Daman Handa, 23, walked away with a prize money of Rs 1 crore and a chance to write his own cookery book after winning the third season of MasterChef India -- Kitchen Ke Superstar.
A gym trainer by profession, Ripu talks to Rajul Hegde about his journey on the show and his plans for the prize money.
How do you feel after winning the coveted MasterChef title?
It's a miracle! It's an honour for me that the judges liked my dishes and the audience voted for me.
I have listened to others all my life. My mother complains that I always listen to my friends and not her. For the first time in my life, I wanted to do something for myself.
I auditioned for the show without informing my parents. They got to know only after I reached the top 12. My mother couldn't even believe it. I took the risk and it has paid off.
Image: Ripu Daman Handa
'I never slept at night. I went to the Gurdwara and practiced making round chapatis'
How would you sum up your journey in MasterChef?
MasterChef gave me a huge platform to prove myself.
Everyone around me always called me a 'duffer' because I couldn't speak in front of people. This show has changed me as a person because now I can speak to anyone without any fear.
My journey has been full of challenges but all seems to be truly worth it. During MasterChef's Chandigarh trip, I never slept at night. I went to the Gurdwara and practiced making round chapatis. I am happy I made so many friends along the way.
How did you come to know about MasterChef season 3 auditions?
I had no idea about the auditions. I was at my brother's place and my sister-in-law told me about it.
I asked her for details and went for it. I just knew chef Sanjeev Kapoor then. I didn't know who the other two judges were (Vikas Khanna and Kunal Kapoor).
Image: Ripu Daman Handa celebrates
'It is my dream to cook for Gordan Ramsay'
When was the first time that you cooked?
I cooked dal and roti for my mother and bhabhi (sister-in-law) on Karva Chauth when I was in Standard 8. That was the first day I tried my hand at cooking. After that, I continued to cook for them on every Karva Chauth.
I would keep trying my own recipes in the kitchen. Punjabiyon ke ghar mein desi ghee bahut use hota hai but mujhe itna oily khana pasand nahi tha (A lot of ghee is used in Punjabi households but I never liked so much oil in my food).
So I would always try and prepare my own food.
Who inspired you to cook?
Sanjeev Kapoor. But it was my brother and my sister-in-law, who supported me throughout my journey. Whether it was mentally, emotionally or financially -- they were always there.
Who is that one person that you want to cook for?
It is my dream to cook for Gordan Ramsay. I don't know if he will ever come to India but if he comes and I get a chance, I would definitely like to make a good Indian dish for him.
Image: Sonakshi Sinha, Ripu Daman Handa and Ranveer Singh on the sets of Masterchef India 3
'I've never gone through any recipe book to make any dish'
What do you think is your USP that worked for you in the show?
I've never gone through any recipe book to make any dish. I have always followed my heart. I always gave 10 minutes to think about my dish before every task and next 50 minutes went in making the dish. I think this habit of mine worked for me and judges too liked it.
Which was the toughest task?
When I made ice cream in Ahmedabad and also had to sell it. It was like my first job.
Any kitchen disaster that you faced on the show?
I think it was when I made Kadhi chawal. I tried to make it in a different way and gave it a new spin. It was not the usual Kadhi chawal and the judges didn't like it (laughs).
What do you plan to do with the prize money?
I haven't thought about it. I have given the money to my mom. I want to polish my culinary skills and increase my knowledge about food.
I plan to utilise it to widen my horizons or I will go for food research in India. I also plan to open a gym in Delhi (smiles).
Image: Ripu Daman Handa receiving the proze money