‘Angels Are Singing Somewhere’: A Flawless Night For Sandeep On ‘MasterChef’
Sandeep Pandit has knocked the judges' socks off during Secrets Week, scoring his first immunity pin of the competition.
Speaking to 10 daily over the phone after his big win, Sandeep revealed that former 'MasterChef' runner-up and current mentor on the show -- Poh Ling Yeow -- was the main reason he had such a successful cook.
"My secret weapon actually that day was Poh. I was so blessed to have her, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn't have won," he told 10 daily, modestly.
Sandeep was born in Srinagar, but migrated to Bangalore at age eight following the turmoil in Kashmir, spending most of his life in India. He told us that he'd spend hours watching 'MasterChef Australia' and 'Poh's Kitchen' before eventually moving to Victoria in 2016.
"'Poh’s Kitchen' is one of the shows that I used to love watching in India. She has a very uncomplicated approach to cooking, she’s a chef but she’s not chef-y and that’s what I love about her," said Sandeep.
It's an approach that Sandeep brought to his winning Masala lobster dish -- taking inspiration from the way south Indian fishermen in Murud prepare the prized seafood in a simple way over an open fire.
"It’s kind of a food memory that stays with you and I thought it was important that the world knows that Indian food is not just about the butter chickens and the naans that we usually have, it’s also about beautiful seafood," he explained.
Smashing through the first round against Tati, Larissa and Derek, Sandeep went on to cook against a ~mystery~ chef that only the contestants in the gantry could see.
"I’m so fortunate I didn’t have the additional intimidation of knowing who I was cooking against," said Sandeep, adding that he was totally focused on nailing his lemon pepper chicken, lemon rice and raita.
Sandeep was blown away when he discovered that he'd been cooking against former 'MasterChef' contestant and current Three Blue Ducks head chef Andy Allen.
But he was absolutely not prepared to learn that he'd beaten Allen with perfect 10/10 scores from all the judges during a moment that had the whole kitchen in tears.
Poh proudly placed the immunity pin on her protégé, giving him a massive hug as he dabbed his eyes.
"I feel totally privileged," said Sandeep, adding that it was a "childhood dream" to be cooking at this level.
He told 10 daily that he hopes he's been a positive ambassador for Kashmiri and Indian cuisine during his time on 'MasterChef'.
"I want to make sure that I preserve some of the recipes from Kashmir, particularly from the communities that I come from -- we don’t have a lot of professional chefs," he explained.
"And I definitely want to do something for Indian food, I want to be able to change the perception that people have towards Indian food, it’s not just about curries," said Sandeep.