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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

1st MasterChef India Winner Pankaj Bhadouria On Her Journey From A School Teacher To An Acclaimed Chef

  • IWB Post
  •  September 5, 2019

The Indian Culinary talent has seen many wonderful men and women chefs, and in 2010 another star chef made it to the list. She quit her 16-year-old job as a schoolteacher, to participate in the first season of Masterchef India, and stepped out donning the winning chef hat that read ‘Master Chef Pankaj Bhadouria’!

Born and raised in Delhi, Pankaj holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in English literature, and her journey from then to now is all for all to see. From 2010 to now, Pankaj has showcased her passion for cooking through shows like Chef Pankaj ka Zayka, Kifayati Kitchen, Sales ka Baazigar, Rasoi, 3 Course with Pankaj, and more. National and international accolades followed, and soon, she became the face of many brands as well. And it came as no surprise, when she took to writing – she now has five best sellers to credit.

In an interview with YourStory, Pankaj talked about realizing her love for cooking at the age of 11, “As a child, I was appreciated and encouraged by my family for everything that I did. Apart from appreciation, I would get their genuine feedback as well, which always helped me to get better in the kitchen.”

Masterchef Pankaj

She refers to MasterChef as a turning point in her life. Those who followed the season know that her selection in the top 12 was rather challenging, and the fact that she got into the “danger zone” only once throughout the journey spoke enough of her talent and determination. But how exactly did MasterChef change her life, and her perspective of food and cooking? “MasterChef catapulted me from the life of a common school teacher to that of an acclaimed chef. Post that, I could see that food was more than just pure pleasure, it needed to be seen in a different perspective – one that glorified it and beautified it as well,” said she.

It is often argued that the world’s greatest chefs are men, but Pankaj dismisses it as a chauvinist statement. “I think in the present scenario, women are able to choose jobs of their choice in the hospitality sector, especially the kitchen. Earlier, yes, with different time schedules, it did pose a problem but now I see them working in all departments, all sectors with equal ease just as they would be working in other industries such as aviation or a BPO. With more women joining the industry, there’s great female talent in the kitchen, too.”

Masterchef Pankaj

Pankaj’s comfort food is plain and simple khichdi with butter and papad crushed over it, and that streak of simplicity reflects in her writing style, too. On being asked about how she chooses the topics for her books, Pankaj said, “I love challenges and topics that make me discover and research about what I want to write, and I choose them with great care. So while Chicken from my Kitchen celebrates the great Indian chicken curry from all across the country, The Secret’s in the Spice Mix discovers the secrets of our masalas, from all across the country again.”

Currently in process to further her efforts in culinary education, Pankaj wishes to make it possible for more youngsters to make a career out of it, and wants to spread her academy and restaurants to more cities, and do more books and TV shows.

Masterchef Pankaj

H/T Link: YourStory

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