Meet The Finalists of Master Chef India
Master Chef India is all set for its grand finale this weekend, where the three finalists will fight it out for the title.
Akshay Kumar, who hosted the first season of the popular cookery show, will return as a celebrity guest judge.
The three finalists look back at their stint on the show, and share their experiences.
Shipra Khanna, from Shimla
Shipra, 29, a housewife, has been cooking from a young age but really began creating different dishes after she married.
"My seven-year-old daughter has been my inspiration," she says. "I would replicate the food I eat outside for her because she wasn't allowed to eat outside. I kind of brushed up my skill over the years."
Shilpa is separated from her husband and has applied for a divorce. She's going through a rough patch in her life and believes Master Chef India gave her the courage to fight for her children (son and daughter), who are with her husband.
"Food is a stress buster for me and takes me away from all my problems. I have cried over the issues and it was at my mother's request that I auditioned for the show when I was quite depressed," she adds.
About the show itself, she says schedules are very tough but she 'loves it'. "I had gone into a shell but after this show, I have seen a different side of the world and it's an overwhelming break for me," she continues.
Shipra says she was nervous during the boot camp but when she began passing each stage, her self-confidence increased.
"My memorable moment on the show was the children's special (tiffin) round, where celebrity kids came on the show," she says. "I was rewarded with a star for the best tiffin. I missed my kids a lot on that particular day. It's been a while since I've met them."
Chef Kunal saluted her for her creativity and concept during the boot camp; he said her dish was the best Indian dessert he has tasted in his life. "He advised me to patent my dish and said he would like to add it to his restaurant menu! It was the best compliment of my life," she says.
What will she do with the booty if she wins the title? "I want to grow my money," she says. "My aim is to get my children back and secure their future. I love travelling and food. I would like to do a travel-based show within India and explore cuisine in the interiors, especially Himachal Pradesh."
Image: Shipra Khanna
Salma Shazia Fathima, from Bangalore
Shazia, 35, is actively involved in her husband's family business. They run a franchise for Delhi Public School in Bangalore and she manages the administration, and also provides education for under-privileged kids.
Shazia was married into a large family when she was just 18. She learnt most of her cooking from her mother-in-law. "I always had an inclination for the kitchen from my childhood. I used to watch cookery shows to develop my culinary skills and my mother-in-law has been my inspiration," she says.
Her cooking was always much appreciated. "If there was a party at home, they would say 'Shazia will cook.' So that encouraged me a lot. But never did I think that I would come on a reality show from the background I come from. It's a big deal, but my children insisted that I should," she adds.
She says her family was apprehensive in the beginning. "I somehow managed to convince everyone. My family has been super supportive," she acknowledges. "I am actively involved in the family business. But somewhere, I felt I should be known for myself. Thanks to Master Chef, I got this opportunity to showcase my talent."
Shazia creates recipes in her dreams. "I dream recipes, it's funny but I actually create dream recipes! I have the bad habit of breaking down the recipes and reconstructing them," she says.
Recognition has come with the show. On a recent visit to Bangalore, people on the streets recognised her. And she gets messages on Facebook from Muslim women in India, Pakistan and other countries saying 'you are living our dreams'. "From my dream it became everybody's dream so it is a huge compliment," she smiles.
Being in the teaching field, Shazia wants to open a cookery school for underprivileged women in rural Karnataka. "With the kind of things I have learnt on the show, I want to give that to women who can't really afford to attend cooking classes. It will be a good means of livelihood for them. If I get a chance later in my life, I would like to start a travel show of my own."
Image: Salma Shazia Fathima
Joseph Roserio, from Siliguri
Joseph Roserio, 26, is inspired by his father's struggle as a cook and wants to show his talent on a bigger platform and make his dad proud. "My dad worked hard all his life to take care of us and now it is my turn to give him some happiness," says the young chef.
Joseph is a gold medallist in martial arts, and a black belt in taekwando. "My wife suggested that I audition for Master Chef. I am not a trained cook; I learnt everything from my dad and TV and it's a dream opportunity to be on the show," he says.
Joseph developed a passion for cooking at a very young age. "As a kid, I would go fishing, come back home and cook it myself because my mom would have finished cooking the meal by then. That's how I got hooked onto cooking," he adds.
Joseph, who has worked in various restaurants, wants to open one of his own. "I want to gift it to my dad and name it Grave court of Rozarios," he says with a smile.
Master Chef has been a revelation for him, working in the well equipped kitchen with tools he had never used before. "Master Chef has been a learning experience; I got to know the names of exotic ingredients and dishes after coming on the show," says the young hopeful.
Image: Joseph Roserio