Nikita Pathakji has been named the winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2022.
The Derby-born sous chef, 25, said she had never thought of pursuing a culinary career because her family is very “academic”, but decided to follow her passion instead of studying chemistry at school. University.
Pathakji has been traveling around Asia for 9 months, loving the local flavors and styles of the region, which inspired her dishes during the Master Chef competition.
In the final, Pathakji impressed the judges – Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, celebrity chef Anna Haugh and TV presenter Gregg Wallace – with a three-course meal inspired by her travels.
She told PA news agency: “I think I just try to cook foods that I love to eat and stay true to my cooking style. I was competing with two great chefs, so I was really pushing myself to do my best, but in the end you never know how things will turn out that day.
“For the final, I really wanted to practice as much as I could and I managed four full runs, on time. When I was still working full time, two of these things happened on the same day, which was also the hottest day of the year.”
Talking about her time participating in the competition, she said MasterChef was always something she thought about but never felt ready.
“My family always wanted me to do that, especially my mother. So I joined the part just to get her out of my case,” she said.
“I decided this was the year because I was in a restaurant environment where I was very relaxed and confident, but it was dangerous. It’s time to push yourself further.
“I didn’t let myself dream to get to this point when I walked in. I gave everything for this. Sleepless nights is an understatement.”
Pathakji won the show after six weeks of intense culinary challenges, beating the competition of dozens of chefs, including Sagar Massey and Charlie Jeffreys, in the final round of the BBC’s cooking programme.
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Her winning menu started with sea bass marinated in a citrus gravy with smoked eggplant puree and a portion of deep-fried eggplant, complimented by Wareing, who said: “This one says it all. what about you.”
This was followed by a contest of her favorite dish from Thailand, Khao Soi, which judge Haugh described as “remarkable”, and a cardamom and custard tart with honey and lemon steamed cream. for dessert.
Haugh, who replaced Monica Galetti on the series’ jury, said Pathakji is “on a path to creating a very unique cuisine”.
She said: “As soon as Nikita walked into the kitchen, I could see she had classes.
“She was a grown-up chef right in front of our eyes,” Wareing said. Her food is amazing and she always comes up with great variations.”
Working as a chef at the time of filming, Pathakji is currently a junior sous chef at the once Michelin-starred restaurant Kitchen W8 in London.
She added: “Next, I want to organize promotional performances and festivals to cook for as many people as possible.
“It would be great to work with other MasterChef finalists to create their own events and menus. My long term goal is to become a chef and owner of a successful restaurant where I can cook my food every day.
“I want to foster a great work environment, like my current workplace. Protecting women in the industry, as well as creating a good work-life balance, is very important to me.”
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