What’s common to Pankaj Bhadouria, Shipra Khanna and Ripudaman Handa? Not only do these three people have exceptional culinary skills, they also share a common title. As winners of previous seasons of the popular reality cooking show, MasterChef India, these once amateur cooks have gone on to become celebrity chefs with cookbooks and television shows to their credit. The hunt is now on for the next best amateur cook with the fourth edition of the show. But it comes with a surprising twist.
For the first time in the history of the worldwide show (the format is internationally owned by the UK-based Shine Group) the reality cooking contest is going all-vegetarian. “It’s a first for any MasterChef in any country,” says Vikas Khanna. The celebrity chef, television host and cookbook author, who is one of the three judges this season as well, feels the all-vegetarian format is the need of the hour. “We have always got a lot of feedback for previous editions and based on that we realised that there were many, equally talented amateur cooks who couldn’t participate because they didn’t cook non-vegetarian dishes. This edition will open it to a wider audience,” he says.
With multi-city auditions already underway, Khanna is enthusiastic about the response, especially in smaller cities. “India is blessed with a bounty of vegetables, lentils and pulses. I think there would be many Indian amateur cooks who would be able to make a new vegetarian dish for every day of the year without repeating the menu,” says Khanna, who has authored an all-vegetarian cookbook in the past. This edition would also highlight different techniques of cooking, he reveals. The coming month will also see the launch of a MasterChef India cookbook which would be a compilation of all the best recipes from the last three seasons.
“Since MasterChef is an international show, an all-vegetarian contest is a good way to showcase India’s diversity and excellence in cooking vegetarian meals,” he says. Joining Khanna on the show would be acclaimed Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor. The name of the third judge for the show will be announced later.