This chef wants to cook for Aamir and Ka­mal

HT City - - FRONT PAGE - Aditya Do­gra ■ aditya.do­gra@htlive.com

Usu­ally, show­biz names rule so­cial me­dia, but for now, In­dian-ori­gin, Sin­ga­pore-born Sashi Che­liah is the man at the top, thanks to his his­toric score — 93 out of 100 — and win at MasterChef Aus­tralia 2018 fi­nale.

Che­liah, who works in law en­force­ment, de­feated Aussie builder Ben Bor­sht to lift the ti­tle and a prize of AUS$250,000 (₹1.26 crore). In a chat with us, the su­per-ex­cited champ talks about his jour­ney, his love for In­dian food, Kol­ly­wood and Bol­ly­wood. “It’s pretty mas­sive ev­ery­where right now, and I’m just en­joy­ing what­ever is hap­pen­ing so far. It’s a big win for me,” says Che­liah, who, it seems, was born for this mo­ment — even though he didn’t know it then.

“Cook­ing, for me, started from home. When we were kids, my mom and aunt used to cook and the kids used to watch them pre­pare the de­li­cious dishes,” he says. “Mom had a small café, so all the boys used to help her out in the café, too, but none of us were re­ally in­ter­ested in cook­ing, and each had their own ca­reer path in mind. Like, I chose polic­ing. I was a po­lice of­fi­cer ear­lier and then be­came a prison of­fi­cer when I came to Aus­tralia about six years ago.” That move sort of re­shaped his des­tiny.

“When I moved to Aus­tralia (from Sin­ga­pore), I re­ally started to miss home-cooked food a lot,” says Che­liah, who has a strong In­dia con­nect, with grand­par­ents who lived in Coim­bat­ore. “So I started cook­ing reg­u­larly at home, bor­row­ing recipes from mom, my aunt, and some from YouTube. But I al­ways made sure to mod­ify the recipes to bring my own touch to them.”

These ef­forts got huge praise from friends and fam­ily, who all thought that his skill was meant for some­thing greater than the fam­ily kitchen, that he should be a restau­ra­teur. His wife be­ing a big fan of MasterChef, last year Che­liah de­cided to take the plunge. “The rest, as they say, is history,” he laughs.

For now, he’ll be start­ing a pop-up in Mel­bourne that will have a mix of In­dian and South East Asian food. His am­bi­tion is to open a restau­rant staffed by ex-con­victs, “giv­ing them a sec­ond chance at a bet­ter life”.

And be­ing an In­dian, he’s nat­u­rally a movie buff. “I love Kol­ly­wood and Bol­ly­wood. Ka­mal Haasan and Aamir Khan are my favourites. If I get a chance to cook for them, I’d fly to In­dia just for this. This would be ev­ery­thing! I haven’t got any op­por­tu­nity to cook in In­dia yet. But, come on, In­dia! Call me!” beams Che­liah.

PHOTO: FACE­BOOK/SASHICHELIAH

Sashi Che­liah wins MasterChef 2018 with a su­per score of 93; and (in­set) cel­e­brates the mo­ment with his fam­ily

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