'MasterChef': How Sandeep’s Back Injury Broke His Spirits
Sandeep Pandit has farewelled 'MasterChef' in an emotional exit from the competition.
Sandeep had a near-flawless run, winning an immunity pin for two stellar dishes: his epic masala lobster, followed up with a lemon chicken that nearly made the judges cry.
But an unexpected injury in the 'MasterChef' house caused the Kashmiri-born cook to sit out some crucial challenges to rest and recuperate.
"It was pretty nasty, I had to be rushed to the doctor, I was on steroid medication for two-to-three weeks," Sandeep told 10 daily of his injury.
"Cooking in that much pain and being on heavy medication is always hard," he added.
Sandeep said that from the moment his back problems began, "his spirits kind of started getting low" in a competition that requires laser focused mental clarity.
"I wasn’t around for a lot of cooks and when that continuity gets broken, it's so hard because this competition is at a very high level.
"You’ve got to have your mind and your body working in tandem and my back kind of broke my spirit," he explained.
Sandeep said he tried "anything and everything" to speed up the recovery process, but his back injury continued to slow him down.
"I was regularly going to a physiotherapist, the whole ‘MasterChef’ crew have been incredible," he said.
"They took care of me every moment, they made sure I was getting the right therapy and the right medication."
He had to make the difficult decision of using his hard-earnt immunity pin for a challenge that he would have blitzed -- Maggie Beer's herb garden challenge.
"That was so hard and technically I didn’t lose that pin because I cooked badly, I lost that pin because I couldn’t cook at all," Sandeep told 10 daily.
"It was gut-wrenching."
Sandeep left the competition after a Sweet Week twist -- the contestants were asked to create a dessert without using a scrap of refined sugar.
"Desserts and I are best friends when someone else does the dessert and I do the eating," joked on the show, being more a master of the savoury realm.
He plated up a kheer (rice pudding) with puri using honey as a natural sweetener but ultimately, it was the dish that sent him home from the competition.
"Going into that cook, I was confident although I’m not really a strong dessert cook, they’re just not my forte," he told us. "
"But I know my cooking, I know my flavours and I did feel quite confident as I walked into the kitchen. "
Sandeep thought he might be in trouble when his rice pudding mixture wasn't thickening in time, but has always had a positive outlook on the competition.
The moment the judges announced he was heading home, Matt Preston revealed that Sandeep had truly become a teacher to them during his time on 'MasterChef'.
"One of the greatest honours a student can get is when their teacher tells them that he himself has come to the level of the teacher," Sandeep said.
The amateur cook touched their feet in thanks, an ancient Indian tradition reserved for elders and teachers.
"It’s a sign of submission and a sign of respect and acknowledgement to your teacher," he explained. "
"For me, all three judges are so revered, I really respect and love them as teachers. That’s why I humbly bowed, thanking them for everything that they have given me."
Since leaving the 'MasterChef' house, Sandeep has been working on a restaurant concept called Barbecue and Biryani, keen to show the world that Indian and Kashmiri food is much more than just curry -- an anglicised concept that's been whacked on the end of any dish involving a sauce with rice.
"I’m also working on my brand of spices for garam masala, which, to me, is the key to the complexity of flavour in my food.
"Most importantly, my website which I’m going to be putting Indian and Kashmiri cuisines, which I think otherwise would get lost," he said of preserving the recipes of his two homelands.
We're going to miss your cooking, Sandeep!