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What MasterChef Winner Mohammed Ashiq Will Do Next

December 14, 2023 13:31 IST

'When I was rejected last year, I told myself I won't give up.'

IMAGE: Mohammed Ashiq, the winner of MasterChef Season 8. Photograph: Kind courtesy MasterChef India

Dreams come true if you believe in them and fight for them.

Not convinced? Ask Mangaluru-born Mohammed Ashiq, who won the MasterChef India Season 8 trophy and took home a cash prize of Rs 25 lakhs last week.

Ashiq, who didn't make the cut last season, returned this year determined to make an impact.

During the show, he served up unique dishes like Crispy Paradise and Ocean View which left the judges -- Ranveer Brar, Pooja Dhingra and Vikas Khanna -- impressed.

In a thrilling finale, Ashiq outshone Nambie Marak, Dr Rukhsaar Sayeed and Suraj Thapa; the four had raced past their eight co-contestants to reach the finale.

"It's amazing how people are calling me MasterChef Mohammed Ashiq. Lag raha ki bas trophy ko pakad ke so jau (I feel like holding on to my trophy when I go to sleep)," an elated Ashiq tells Mayur Sanap/

What it feel like when the judges announced that you were the winner of MasterChef Season 8?

That my dream had come true finally.

It's something that I have wanted since many years; now, I am the winner of MasterChef.

I'm on top of the world; I don't have the words that can capture my emotions.

What are the reactions in your hometown and in your family?

My whole city, Mangalore, has gone crazy.

They put up a big screen near my juice shop. More than 400 to 500 people came in two hours to watch MasterChef live. I did not expect such crowd; they all went crazy when my name was announced (laughs).

Everybody's very happy and proud that I won the show.

You did not make the final cut last season, but you tried again this year. What kept your passion for MasterChef going?

That rejection made me the chef that I am today.

I went back home and started working on my culinary skills. I gained a lot of knowledge.

When I was rejected last year, I told myself I won't give up. I prepared for this year and made it.

IMAGE: Mohammed is a picture of concentration as he puts the final touches on his dish. Photograph: Kind courtesy MasterChef India

Tell us about some of the unique dishes you cooked on the show.

I made Crispy Paradise for which I got Chef Ranveer Brar;s signature chef's knife.

He also gave me a lot of compliments for Ocean View, the dish I made for the finale.

These were some of the best moments for me.

What was the point at which you struggled the most on MasterChef and how did you overcome it?

I'm the one who did all the Black Apron challenges; I was in every elimination challenge but that only made me a stronger person.

Every time I went to the Black Apron challenge, I used to think I may not perform well and get eliminated.

The elimination challenges are most difficult but they only made me stronger.

What was the biggest risk that you took during the show?

It has to be the finale dish.

When we cook something on the show, we try to add a different form. For example, if I make Raj Kachori, I'll think about how I can elevate the dish.

In the finale, I thought of an ocean view and then created the dish with what looks like sand, foam, etc. I basically created this dish.

IMAGE: Mohammed and his mother with the three judges -- Ranveer Brar, Vikas Khanna and Pooja Dhingra. Photograph: Kind courtesy MasterChef India

If you got a chance to work with any of the three judges, whom would you choose and why?

Vikas Khanna.

He is an inspiration for me and I loved working with him.

Right from the beginning, I was excited to meet him.

He is connected with Mangalore as he studied in Manipal (the university town near Mangaluru city). He has a very helpful nature. He also struggled tremendously at the beginning of his cooking journey.

He really inspires me. I love him.

IMAGE: Ashiq with his brother-in-law on the MasterChef set. Photograph: Kind courtesy Mohammed Ashiq/Instagram

What's been your most valuable experience in the show?

The finale for sure.

The Diwali episode was most memorable as my jiju (brother-in-law) had come to meet me all the way from Saudi (Arabia). He always been there for me. I was very happy that day and made Crispy Paradise, which was the best dish of the day.

The moment I got the chef's knife was unforgettable. It made me realise that I can do more and I will do more.

What are your favourite dishes to eat and cook?

I like Indian cuisine and, within that, I love Mangalorean cuisine.

My comfort food is prawns ghee roast, boiled rice and rasam.

IMAGE: It may look savoury, but that's Mohammed's surprise sweet dish. Photograph: Kind courtesy MasterChef India

How important is the prize money for you and what will you do with it?

It is very important.

I wanted to have my own restaurant or cafe, but I did not have the necessary finance.

So I started a small kiosk and also catered to wedding functions and colleges.

Then, I opened a small shop.

My jiju helped me a lot during this time.

My passion for cooking brought me to MasterChef and now I think my dream will become a reality.

I will utilise this money well. I have planned to open a cafe. After that, I want to set up a small studio that where I can create content.

Have you thought a name for your cafe?

Not yet, but I will definitely think about it now (laughs).

IMAGE: Mohammed Ashiq with his mother, who has always encouraged him to follow his dreams. Photograph: Kind courtesy MasterChef India

How are you adjusting to your new-found fame?

Oh my God, it's amazing how people are calling me MasterChef Mohammed Ashiq. Lag raha ki bas trophy ko pakad ke so jau (I feel like holding on to my trophy when I go to sleep).

This can't be earned with money; you have to work hard for this.

People from my hometown have gone crazy, I am getting lot of messages.

No one from there had participated in MasterChef before because they don't know about the audition process, etc.

I hope thousands of people from Mangalore will come to MasterChef from the next season.

What does any aspiring contestant need to know about MasterChef?

I had no clue about what would happen before I entered the competition. My only thing is that I don't give up.

It is your passion and you must enjoy the journey.

No matter what, don't give up; things will happen.

I am just very happy. MasterChef has given me a lot.