If becoming the MasterChef was the destiny of Pankaj Bhadouria, nature started her silent training in her birthplace Delhi's cosmopolitan Food environments Life always gives big opportunities in the form of small hints; Pankaj got it in the form of the 1st cookery realty show- "Amul's MasterChef of India". The show was hosted by none other than Bollywood actor, Akshay Kumar.
Enjoy this very interesting conversation between Master Chef Pankaj and Atreyee Bhatacharya of B'Khush.
Congratulations on the big win! How does it feel?
Pankaj: Remember the classic song “I am on the top of the world!” that is exactly how I feel! It was indeed one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Other than the moolah and the name and fame, I am enjoying the recognition I am getting for something I love to do. But along with all this has also come along a lot of responsibility and there are so many expectations I need to fulfill.
You were a teacher in Lucknow before coming on the show. What did you teach? How does it feel to meet your students?
Pankaj: Before I joined Master Chef, I had been teaching English to Classes XI& XII for 16years. My students were a great support when I was competing at Master Chef. They even started a face book page for me “Pankaj Maam rocks at Master Chef”. I was overwhelmed when I came to know about it! Today, when I meet my students, I can read their love and the pride they feel at my victory in their eyes, it’s a feeling that cannot be expressed in words.
You mention that your father was an important influence in cooking career. But you learned assisting your mother in the kitchen. Can you comment?
Pankaj: Both my parents were excellent cooks. In fact my mother had learnt cooking from my father and my grandmother after she got married! People waited for parties at our home for the food and its presentation would be excellent! That is what inspired me. I felt cooking good food was definitely something great for not only did you get to eat good food but also it got you lots of praise so it was something I had to learn and that I did watching both of them cook together and then later of course assisting mom in the kitchen.
For master chef season 1, you worked with Akshay Kumar. How was the off screen experience with him?
Pankaj: Akshay Kumar is one of the most disciplined persons I have ever met in my life. His dedication to his work, professionalism and the fun side in him as a person taught me a lot. No wonder he stands where he is today!
How was your experience with the other participants?
Pankaj: All of us were away from our families and had formed a family of our own. It was fun being together. You got to see so many personalities in one person and an understanding of how people reacted under pressure. Today I am good friends with some of them and in close touch with them.
How do you think Master Chef has affected household cooking in India, if at all?
Pankaj: MasterChef has glorified cooking. It has uplifted cooking from a regular mundane household job to a work of art. Here was a reality show based on cooking….something unheard of in Indian Television history and that too without any voting involved! It took the Indian household by storm and every one was glued to their TV sets. There is definitely more respect for cooking as a career now than there was earlier in India, all thanks to MasterChef.
Would you say you are a role model?
Pankaj : That is a tall responsibility! No I don’t consider myself as a role model at all. I am basically a teacher and sincerely believe that a good teacher is not one who can teach but one who can inspire. And if I am able to do that- inspire people to pursue their dreams and fulfill them, I would definitely feel it is an even greater achievement for me than winning my title.
You are very technology savvy. You have a blackberry app! What kind of audience are you trying to reach through these outlets?
Pankaj: My app is available not only on BB but also on I Phones, Google Play, and Androids. I have just launched my app Pan America on Verizon. It is just an effort to share my love for food, my recipes with people who love cooking. I also have a website: www.pankajbhadouria.com, where I can further share my recipes with everyone.
You have played several roles: teacher, chef and TV personality. Which do you enjoy most and why?
Pankaj : It is difficult to choose one! I have been a teacher 16 years of my life, cooking is my greatest passion and the TV show was a combination of the two- teaching and cooking. In a class I would teach 40 students but here I was- teaching how to cook to 40 million on TV!
Finally, what is your favorite cuisine and what is the best kitchen tip you got in life and from whom?
Pankaj: I just love eating! Right from Khichdi to a gourmet meal, Indian to Chinese to Continental – good food from any cuisine makes me salivate! But for sure, Indian and Chinese appeal the most and the Continental desserts including cakes and all bakery products make me go week in knees! The best tip in life is one that I got from my mom- your moods reflect in your cooking so never cook in a bad mood. Try it: the day you are cooking happily in the kitchen, you are bound to get good reviews. Another tip that is invaluable is: always taste your food before serving it!
Picture Courtesy : Pankaj Bhadouria's Official Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/pbhadouria