January 5, 2012 1:37:35 am
Single mom from Shimla,Shipra Khanna plates up the title of MasterChef India,representing thousands of ordinary people who have learnt the art of making gourmet food at home
This new year has begun with a new flavour for Shipra Khanna.
The 29-year-old single mother from Shimla is now the newly crowned winner of MasterChef India Season 2. Even as congratulatory phone calls and messages pour in,Khanna maintains a Zen-like attitude. On the night of January 1,the three MasterChef finalists Salma Shazia from Bengaluru,Joseph Rozario from Siliguri and Shipra battled it out in the kitchen in what was clearly the toughest cooking contest of the season.
Competing for the title,a cash prize of Rs 1 crore and a cookery show on Star Plus,Shipra floored the trio of chef-mentors Vikas Khanna,Ajay Chopra and Kunal Kapoor and celebrity guest Akshay Kumar with her Garam Masala Carrot Cake. The Khiladi actor,in fact,couldnt resist taking a second helping.
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I never thought I would be the winner. It took me by surprise,but I know this is just a stepping stone. I have much more to accomplish, says Khanna,who will visit Pune today to interact with children from the NGO Annapurna. The determination in her voice is hard to miss. I grew up watching my mother rustle up delicacies even in the middle of the night for guests. In Himachal Pradesh,where I come from,hospitality is taken very seriously, says Shipra,who aspires to anchor a food and travel show. Her inspirations might be celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver for desserts,but it was her children who brought out the best in her. My daughter loves to eat out and I would replicate recipes at home for her, says Shipra,who says she participated in MasterChef India because she had a burning desire to prove her worth.
Be it innovating with a pre-existing recipes,plating up her version of Amritsari Fish Au Gratin for 100 people in the finale,or surviving challenges put forth by pastry chef Jehangir Mehta,celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor,and food critic and food writer Karen Anand,Shipra not only used her culinary skills well but remained as cool as a cucumber when the going got tough. Its commendable how she never got hassled. She deserves the title as she was consistent in delivering innovative fare, says Kandla Nijhowne,a Chandigarh-based culinary expert and one of the finalists of MasterChef India Season One.
Interestingly,for the semi-final,Shipra had to make a new dish using ingredients of Kandlas winning dish last season Cigarillos of Stuffed Chicken with Vegetable bundles bathed in a Mushroom Glaze. Shipra impressed the judges and those who watched the show with the way she used riccotta cheese with minced chicken,which she ultimately grilled and served in slices. And all this came from someone who has never trained professionally. Chef Sabyasachi Gorai of Olive in Delhi says participation by the likes of Shipra was the winning ingredient for MasterChef. This show has managed to capture peoples attention because its very honest and genuine. It makes high-end food accessible to the masses, he explains.
Television food critic Bikramjit Ray agrees. He says,MasterChefs success reflects the aspirations of the middle class. We are an eating-at-home culture rather than an eating-out culture and the show exposes the masses to fancy cooking and new and interesting ingredients.
The MasterChef audience is also a mixed bag and,surprisingly,stay-home-mothers arent the only ones tuning in. There are youngsters too,like Drish Sharma,a Class IX student from Chandigarh,who spends his free time browsing for recipes and watching TV shows like Nigella Express,MasterChef and Hells Kitchen. I love MasterChef. Its nice to learn about different cuisines and try and replicate them, says Sharma. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor remarked at the launch of his channel Food Food,The viewer enjoys being entertained by food. Homemakers form a huge chunk of our audience,but I now find an increasing number of youngsters enjoying food.
(With inputs from Shantanu David)
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