You may have seen him winning that shield on TV on MasterChef Australia 2018, but success doesn’t seem to have changed MasterChef Sashikumar Cheliah a bit. In real life too, he is still that humble unassuming person that he was on the reality show when he won people’s hearts with his simplicity and smile.
This Singapore born Tamilian is in town for his charity event Classroom Kitchen, a dinner and master class, organised by MMRT 42 and MMLC 7 to raise funds for under privileged children by constructing classrooms and school infrastructure.
The 2018 winner of the most viewed competitive cooking game show was an Australian prison officer, and formerly worked for the Singapore police force. After shifting base to Australia with his wife and children, Shashi wanted to embark on a culinary experience of his own with a café when MasterChef happened.
“My tryst with cooking started from my teenage days”, says Shashi. His family owned a café in Singapore. “My mum cooked a lot of Indian and Asian food like Chinese and Malay: flavours were prominent.”
Coming to his MasterChef journey, Shashi says, “Initially I used to do home style cooking, but MasterChef changed that. I am seeing food from a different perspective now. There was a huge learning curve. I learnt that presentation was equally important along with the flavours.”
“Simple home-cooked meal like sambhar and rice with stir fried sides is all I desire when I am at home”, confesses Shashi when asked about his favourite comfort food. “I usually cook at home and my wife takes over when am away. But as a rule we are never both in the kitchen at the same time”, he laughs.
Shashi has always been fascinated with the flavours and diversities in Indian food. His culinary venture, Gaja by Shashi in Australia showcases Asian inspired cuisine but done in a signature ‘Shashi’ style. “I am all about flavours. I like to maintain the authenticity of the dish but at the same time give an individuality to it”, he says. Backed by Sumeru Foods, the 8 course sit down dinner event with a degustation menu held at Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt, Chennai, on Saturday night saw a full house. The master class on September 1, will demonstrate one of his winning dishes, share tips and talk about his journey and experience during the MasterChef days.
Shashi, who has done the event pro bono, says he would be delighted to support meaningful social causes like this and would do it “all over again” if he had to....