Sashi Cheliah is winning hearts with his smile while cooking at MasterChef

By Neeru Saluja

He’s the top favourite for this year’s MasterChef’s title. Creating MasterChef history by winning two immunity pins, Sashi Cheliah from Adelaide is winning hearts with his warm smile and flavoursome cooking. He has reached the final four in the contest and is cooking up a storm, be it in the kitchen or on social media.

When his recipe got burnt last week his fans went into a frenzy, and now MasterChef viewers have lashed out on a guest judge accusing him of bullying their favourite contestant.

As the Singaporean born prison officer is a step closer to the MasterChef Australia 2018 grand finale, we talked to Sashi about his journey at MasterChef and what it takes to get so far in the contest.

Sashi you are the top favourite in MasterChef 2018. How do you feel about all the love and warmth from your fans?

I’m very grateful to all the love and warmth from family, friends and fans on social media.  I didn’t expect to come this far in the competition. It motivates me to work harder and live up to everyone’s expectations.

What about the love and warmth that we see on television between your counterparts? What we see on screen is friendship but after all they are your competitors?  

Everyone who is competing on MasterChef has one goal ”“ to win the title. All the contestants are very competitive but MasterChef is unique as we stay in one house and become a family. It’s a very healthy competition.

So what inspired you to join MasterChef?  

I cook a lot for family and friends and they are the force behind me joining MasterChef. Every time they came over for dinner, parties or festivals they always complimented my food and even suggested me to open a restaurant. I actually had started planning to open a small cafe and that’s when MasterChef was advertising their enrolments. I gave it a go and thought if I do well I’ll open my restaurant.

How long did you prepare for the contest?  

About one month. I cook regularly at home. If I’m not around my wife cooks. After my audition, I started playing around with different cuisines and equipment.

You focus a lot on flavour and have a natural flair for fusion.  Where does that come from?

It comes from my family. I was born in Singapore and the fusion comes from there. My mum has a Malay style of cooking, my kids like Italian and French food. Personally I like Thai food. My idea of a restaurant will be a fusion of Indian and South Asian flavours.

In Indian cooking the spices are strong. Flavour is an important aspect of our cooking. The judges don’t only go for technique, they appreciate good flavours.

So what’s your favourite ingredient and your signature dish?  

I love lemongrass. My signature dish is biryani. It takes me 3-4 hours to make a dum biryani.

How do you remain so calm during all the pressure during the show?  

It comes from all my training while working for a decade in Singapore Police Force. I went through a lot of training on how to deal with pressure and stress. That training has immensely helped during MasterChef.

What was been your most memorable moment in MasterChef?

The most memorable moments were from the Gordon Ramsay week. I had a good time cooking with him and I can proudly say that I was lucky enough to compete in a challenge that week. I idolise him and working with him was the most memorable time.

If you win or don’t win the title, what will be your next step and how would you summarize your MasterChef journey?

If I win or don’t I win, I will continue to work towards my goal of my fusion restaurant. I would ideally like to start with a pop up in my hometown Adelaide and then build my confidence and experience. I also want to work towards the rehabilitation of the prisoners and make a change in their lives.

The journey has been amazing. I took a risk in joining the competition and it was worth it. If you don’t take risks, you won’t achieve great heights. Perseverance helped me in achieving what I achieved at MasterChef. And also, do everything with a smile.






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