Find out what these culinary enthusiasts – the winners of the world’s tastiest reality show – are up to now!
Food is the ultimate expression of art. Embracing a good meal is a primal, essential, and extremely gratifying need that extends to the other side of the table as well. So much so, that it led to the birth of one the world’s most-watched, most-loved and most popular reality TV shows – MasterChef! The show encapsulates talented cooks rustling up their signature dishes in a limited time as celebrity chefs, Vineet Bhatia, Ranveer Brar and Vikas Khanna assess their culinary skills in intense audition rounds.
The show quickly gained worldwide recognition and extended its tendrils to India – where it has hosted 6 phenomenal seasons thus far. The participants and winners of the show were (and continue to be) subject to widespread fame and are continually lauded by noteworthy restaurants.
Let’s dig in to find out what these culinary enthusiasts – the winners of the world’s TASTIEST reality show – are up to now!
1. Pankaj Bhadouria
The very first MasterChef from India, entrepreneur, Brand Ambassador, TEDx speaker, author of the first official MasterChef Cookbook, Pankaj Bhadouria has also penned 4 other best-selling cookbooks: Chicken From My Kitchen, The Secret’s in The Spice Mix, and many more. She extended her scope of culinary expertise and charming on-camera presence to become the host of several popular TV shows including Chef Pankaj Ka Zayka, Kifayati Kitchen, 3 Course with Pankaj, Chef Pankaj ka Zayka, Sales ka Baaz Sigar, Health in 100, and Just Like That. Pankaj also made an appearance on MasterChef Season 4 – when she put the contestants through a nail-biting pressure test. The contestants were asked to recreate her version of India’s favourite Chaat – a challenge only the exuberant Pankaj could have come up with.
With a mission to impart the art of cooking to all the food lovers and to prepare cooking enthusiasts for various challenges in life, Pankaj founded the “Pankaj Bhadouria Culinary Academy” in 2012. She also started Tramp Tree Cafe – a boutique that has something to offer to all age groups, and all taste buds. The cafe has a simple philosophy – Cooking Great Food- Day After Day! The Cafe established a presence in Hazratganj, Lucknow and Sitapur. Another successful endeavour by Pankaj was Cafe by Default – a swanky Restro Bar in Hazratganj Lucknow. The place became one of the most lively places to dine out in the city. The Menu was globally inspired and had something to offer for all taste buds. The Cafe believes in a simple philosophy- Good Food + Good Friends = Good Times! All of Pankaj’s enterprises are in line with a simple goal: provide finger-licking food for people from all across the country, no matter what their taste and preference.
A little bit of trivia on this exemplary chef’s life: Pankaj believes that life always gives big opportunities in the form of small hints! The big move in Pankaj Bhadouria’s life came with a small step when she decided to leave her successful teaching career, spanning over 16 years, to enter India’s 1st televised cookery reality show – MasterChef India on Star Plus, the leading general entertainment channel. And as they say, fortune favours the brave, Pankaj went on to become a worthy winner, and with it India’s first ever MasterChef. The chief guests of the show were famous Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, Ajay Chopra, executive chef at Goa Marriott Resort, and Kunal Kapur, executive chef at Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon.
She continues to inspire many around her by her ever-growing charisma, her long list of achievements, and her neverending zeal to create exceptional food.
2. Shipra Khanna
At the age of 29, Shipra was the brilliant winner of the culinary battle of master chefs and cooking saved her life. She opened her own restaurant H.O.T. – House of Taste – in Ahmedabad. She clarifies her reason for choosing this location, “I believe people in Gujarat love food like nowhere else. And that’s precisely the reason why I chose this place for my maiden venture instead of my own town.” The celebrity-chef claims that she wants to let things take their natural course for now, but she aspires to venture out to other parts of India soon.
She is also a proud published author of her very own cookbook: The Spice Route in which she takes the reader through her exceptionally emotional, awe-inspiring food journey. And of course, some of her favourite many food recipes! She also launched “Sinfully Yours,” a book on desserts that makes the seven cardinal sins its theme. It features globally-inspired dessert ideas.
Shipra is called “the glamourous chef,” which she claims, “is more responsibility than it is a compliment.” Since staying in shape and eating great food don’t compliment each other. She became a host for Kitchen Stars Ka Safar on Star Plus. Apart from making her name big in other shows like Desi Gourmet, Bowl With Shipra and Pure Sin etc. She works as a consultant for various restaurants and also takes on to Instagram to showcase her exciting cooking videos – those that are loved by her followers and us!
3. Ripu Daman Handa
The charismatic celebrity-chef, Ripu, became a recurring and popular face on nation-renowned shows like Khaana Khazana and Living Foodz. This chef believes in living a healthy lifestyle and is quite well-known for his oil-free food recipes. His professional journey has all but one challenge – fusion cuisine. He is a proud owner of an Italian restaurant in Mumbai – “Macchiato.”
Macchiato is a thematic and rustic Italian-themed restaurant, that serves continental and famous recipes from all over the world. What also attracts one to the restaurant is its wide range of In-House Wine selection. He will soon be introducing the world to his Indian restaurant – “Maati in Uttar Pradesh.
4. Nikita Gandhi
In MasterChef Season 4, Nikita Gandhi coveted the golden chef coat along with a 1 Crore Rupee reward. Nikita was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi but as her interest in cooking escalated, she moved to India to participate in the show.
Upon winning the title, she kick-started her career as a TV Show Host in a show titled “Nix Kitchen.” After making it big as a chef, she now has her own website that caters to healthy eating called The Veggie Fix. She also has an active and engaging social media presence that she uses to keep her fans updated on her latest updates. She posts quick, easy to follow and interesting video recipes on it – a great go-to channel for any culinary enthusiasts!
5. Kirti Bhoutika
Kirti was the youngest yet the most talented participant of MasterChef India season 5. She nurtured her love for baking after claiming the title of MasterChef and founded a bakery by the name of SugarPlum Cakery. Being a dessert fanatic, all she wanted to do was – bake the best cakes for Kolkata! She entered MasterChef right after college – with a lot of hope, zeal and most importantly, an undying love for food. They say you can choose your career, but in her case, her career chose her.
After winning the title, she attended various talk shows as a guest, gave inspiring speeches and blessed many cooking events with her presence – in and around the country. She also worked under Chef Atul Kochhar in his restaurants in Mumbai and Dubai. She gained a flavour of modern Indian cooking during her time at Farzi Café.
Interestingly, Kirti was invited to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum to cook the dessert for the dinner hosted by PM Narendra Modi for delegates from all around the world. Apart from travelling the world, hosting cooking events, teaching and preaching her love for cooking, she runs her own cooking channel on many websites under the name SugarPlum Cakery. Her food show is called “Food Fiesta.”
6. Abinas Nayak
Engineer to culinary wizard – Abhinas, the winner of MasterChef India Season 6, is truly a man with many talents! His modern take on simple, nostalgic yet perfectly balanced recipes is what led him to lift the Masterchef trophy along with the Golden Apron and a cash-price of ₹25 Lakh. Hailing from Berhampur, Odhisha, Abinas who’s a 27-year-old full-time Engineer at Infosys is also a part-time food fanatic at heart has won the nation’s heart with his innovative skills in the kitchen. But, this wasn’t his first big win in a culinary competition. In 2019, Abinas won the MasterChef Lokicooks Fellowship Competition and in 2018, he was awarded as the Hungry For Haldiram of the year.
Abinas Nayak’s Instagram handle is all about food and showcases tempting pictures. Chocolate rasgulla is one of the most popular dishes on his social media handle while chicken drumstick has also gained popularity. He is also reportedly a food stylist who loves to flaunt his dishes in a creative and innovative way – a talent he showcased multiple times during MasterChef India 6.