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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

‘Never thought I’d even get the white apron’: MasterChef Australia contestant Depinder Chhibber

"I went into the competition with low expectations. I was taken by surprise when the judges started to love my food as I was cooking food that I knew best, my own Indian cuisine as well as desserts," she said

Written by Shweta Sharma | New Delhi |
July 6, 2021 12:30:32 pm
Depinder Chhibber, Depinder Chhibber masterchef Australia, Depinder Chhibber eliminationDipender Chibber recently got eliminated from the well-known cooking show. (Photo: PR handout)

“One of my favourite things to do is to incorporate Indian flavours into western desserts,” says Masterchef Australia contestant Depinder Chibber who left everyone teary-eyed with her recent elimination after making it to the top 10. Loved for her strong cooking skills, especially Indian food, the home cook impressed the judges, and also fellow-contestants, on numerous occasions with her signature dishes like ‘Prawn moilee with fragrant coriander rice and a peanut salsa’, ‘Fish Amritsari with green chutney’, ‘Green curry cake with white chocolate chilli ganache, coconut ice cream and a coconut crumb’, and ‘Tandoori chicken with naan, chutney and charred cabbage, chillies with a smoked lassi’.

In an exclusive email interaction with indianexpress.com, the home-chef talks about her experience, her food journey so far, her understanding of Indian cuisine in Australia and her most memorable moment on the show.

Excerpts:

When and why did you decide to participate in MasterChef Australia?

I have been wanting to go onto MasterChef ever since I was a kid and started watching it. I actually filled out my application form a few times and finally mustered up the courage to send it off last year. Looking at the situation caused by Covid around the world, it was now or never for me.

 

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A post shared by Depinder Chhibber (@depinder_)

Can you tell us about yourself and your food journey so far?

Growing up in India was all about food. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where my family and I needed an excuse to celebrate food. I have been a passionate kitchen hand growing up which nurtured me as a cook. I was able to learn from not just my mum, but also my grandmothers, aunts and other members of my family.

As I grew up I developed my own interests in food and started experimenting with flavours and different techniques. I discovered a passion for baking and making desserts as a form of my creative outlet as I loved art and craft. I would like to take this food journey further and write cookbooks showcasing my flavours and making Indian cooking more accessible in Australia.

If I can help home cooks incorporate and feel comfortable cooking indian food at home via my cookbooks and recipes, it would mean the world to me.

You impressed judges on numerous occasions; how did you prepare yourself for the show?

I went into the competition with very low expectations. I was taken by surprise when the judges started to love my food as I was cooking food that I knew best, my own Indian cuisine as well as desserts. I think I was fortunate enough to be able to cook to my strengths and that’s what has differentiated my style of cooking to other contestants.

 

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A post shared by Depinder Chhibber (@depinder_)

Indian contestants have always shone on the show, but you have definitely raised the bar. Were you expecting such an overwhelming response?

I was definitely not expecting to get such an overwhelming response. I never thought I’d even get the white apron and I am so grateful for the love and support I have received.

What is your take on Indian cuisine in Australia?

There is a gap in the Australian food industry which exists when it comes to popularising Indian cuisine and Indian-Australian chefs are taking this very seriously, which is reassuring for the foodies and young chefs and cooks like myself.

In saying that, Indian cuisine is on its way up in Australia. There are so many new chefs who are elevating Indian cuisine, helping it become more mainstream in our Australian food culture. I foresee Indian cuisine becoming more prominent in Australia just like we see it in the UK being one of their most popular cuisines.

 

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A post shared by Depinder Chhibber (@depinder_)

You heavily played on your strengths. But how comfortable are you when it comes to cuisines like Japanese or French, which are very different from Indian?

Everyone contestant has their strengths, and I am definitely more comfortable cooking Indian food. But, at the same time, we study, work hard and do research to know enough about other popular cuisines.

A pharmacist or a chef — what do you see yourself as in the next 10 years?

I don’t think I can ever stop thinking like a pharmacist but I see myself deep into my food dream in the next 10 years.

 

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A post shared by Depinder Chhibber (@depinder_)

What has been your most memorable experience on the show?

This has to be the fire immunity challenge night shoot. That was an amazing experience and something I can never forget.

Who has had the biggest influence, in terms of food, in your life?

I have been extremely fortunate to have so many family members who have contributed to my food journey but the two most important influences are my grandmothers.

Masterchef Australia Season 13 streams on Disney+ Hotstar.

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