Post MasterChef, Sandeep Pandit ready with next venture

After spending almost two months in the MasterChef kitchen, Indian hopeful Sandeep Pandit got out of the competition. The judges praised Sandeep for presenting the best of Indian food and for his “amazing presence in the kitchen”. In an exclusive, Sandeep talks to G’day India about his MasterChef journey and plans for the future.
Did you think you would go out in the sweet dish round?
I came to this competition prepared that I would go out any time. At the same time, I never cooked anything thinking that it would be my last cook. It is just unfortunate that there were some technical errors but I am just happy with what I have put up. I definitely wanted to be in top ten but Season 11, top 11 has a nice ring to it.
What has the experience been like?
It has been truly divine, it was an incredible experience. For me someone like me who comes from a Kashmiri migrant family escaping from your home in a truck to be applauded by all of Australia is an exceptionally beautiful experience.
How will you be handling your popularity now?
I am not sure I am that popular. I guess people in Melbourne know me a bit by now and thanks for being the first people to interview me prior to the show as well. It’s not the popularity but being known by people is an honour and I hope whatever little I have been able to showcase in terms of the skills in MasterChef, people will start acknowledging Indian food as complex and beautiful and as diverse and technical as French cooking is.
How did you feel being on camera for such a great show?
I am actually quite camera shy to tell you the truth. In real life too, I prefer to take someone else’s photo than mine. Initially I found it a bit hard to cook in front of the camera. But the whole MasterChef crew is very professional; it is one of the most professional organisations that I have worked with. They make you very comfortable, they give you your space, and it is a very happy place.
What next?
For the short term, I am going back to my work. There are some professional commitments that I have to take care of, I had to take a break from my professional life to realise this dream. But I am hoping to start my own restaurant which serves Indian barbecue food cooked on coal like how you have at Karim’s in Old Delhi. It will also serve biryani. I am also hoping to commercialise my garam masala, it is one of the most unique spice blends that we have. It is very similar to the Kashmiri garam masala. And thirdly I am working on my website, so these are some of the things lined up for me.

Who do you think will take home the MasterChef crown?
Everyone in top ten is incredible. But I am a little biased towards towards two people: Tati Carlin and Tessa Boersma. Tati was like an elder sister that I never had, but the professional cook in me says Tessa has a very good chance, I call her the flavour queen.
Anything else you wanted to add?
I would like to thank all the readers of The Indian Weekly and G’day India, I have seen the comments on Facebook. Thank you for following my journey from day one and I would absolutely love it if people could follow me on Instagram and see how I go from here.
(As told to Indira Laisram)