MasterChef Australia is arguably the world’s biggest competitive cooking game show and the participants of the current season prove exactly why. From making delectable dishes from around the world to competing in high-stress situations to create their own recipes, these contestants have proved their worth.
Among this talented group of people is Depinder Chhibber, who has taken up the MasterChef world by storm. Depinder is originally from New Delhi and moved to Australia at the age of 11. Depinder’s journey in MasterChef Australia is full of promise, with judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo often being impressed with her work. Depinder specialises in South Asian cuisines.
In a free-wheeling chat with News18, Depinder talked about her MasterChef journey, appreciation from the judges and how her Indian heritage impacts her culinary skills. “I feel so privileged to be a part of this wonderful food family. For me if there was ever a cooking competition I’d enter, it would’ve been MasterChef Australia. Having Mel, Jock and Andy as my food mentors is like a dream come true. So far my food critics have been my husband and close family, so I feel extremely fortunate to be able to cook for these judges as they are what you call food Gurus,” Depinder said.
In an episode of MasterChef, the judges were so impressed by her dish that they expressed the desire to visit her home for a meal. Reacting to this, Depinder said, “I am truly blessed with the judges, they are so humble and warm. They love it when we cook from our heart, they can feel the emotion we cook with and that’s exactly what they tasted in my Bento Box Tiffin. I mean I don’t think there is a better feeling than that, right? It was my most humble home cooked meal, not just mine but every Indian home’s lunch or dinner. So for them to recognise that at such a high level was probably the proudest moment for me so far.”
Celebrity chef Zock Jonfrillo had also called her one of the best participants of the season. This was when Depinder got immunity from elimination from the judges for three consecutive weeks. “I feel amazing hanging out in the gantry, but at the same time it scares me because the pressure is on. The competition is getting harder everyday, so with time everyone needs to lift their game,” she shared.
Not only have the judges praised Depinder for her work, she has also been able to make a good impression on special guests on the show. Celebrity chef Scott Picket learnt her Charcoal-infused Lassi recipe and said that he will include it in his menu. Gushing about this moment, Depinder said, “Scott Pickett is one of the most renowned chefs in Australia and for him to recognise my smoked Lassi was absolutely wild. I had lassi at home every Sunday morning, it was our weekend treat and now it’s taken off on Australia national TV as well as across the globe so this is not just recognition for me, but a celebration of Indian culture at a global platform.”
Elaborating further on how her Indian heritage has influenced her passion for food, she said, “I don’t think I’d be able to recognise myself without my Indian heritage, it is a huge part of my life. Food is the epicentre of Indian culture no matter where you go. I don’t know any Indian living in India who isn’t a foodie.
“I have been fortunate enough to spend the early years of my life in India which is where I developed my interest in food, learnt so much from my grandmothers, aunts and other family members. Moving to Australia helped nurture my interest in food even more because I wanted to learn more and more about Indian cuisine, concepts and regional dishes I had never heard of or tasted before.”
Depinder has talked about wanting to open her own restaurant in Australia. She said, “Having my own restaurant is definitely on the cards. I would love to serve regional Indian food introducing Indian dishes from all over the country, dishes that have never made it to restaurants internationally and dishes that deserve to be known simply because of how delicious they are.”
Depinder also talked about what her first step would be, if she were to win MasterChef Australia. “If I was to win MasterChef Australia, step one for me would be to get some professional training which is invaluable. To open my own restaurant would be a dream, but to make sure I run it smoothly or to its best capacity, I would get some experience working in kitchens learning how to run them seamlessly. My end goal would be to write my own cookbook and open my restaurant serving regional Indian dishes,” she signed off.
MasterChef Australia 13 streams on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.