What did you take away from the experience of competing on The Next Iron Chef?
I walked away feeling that there was little that I couldn’t face and conquer. Some of the situations that we were put in were challenging to say the least, and being able to overcome these obstacles gave me the strength and resilience to believe in facing anything that comes in front of me with grace and pride. Even though those three weeks were stressful, and an emotional roller coaster if I’ve ever been on one, it made me a much stronger person and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything. I walked away from this competition feeling richer in experience, in friends and in life.
How did you feel about the dishes that sent you home when you presented them?
I felt that I put most of my energy into trying to shake the preconceived perception that people had of me being an Indian Chef … I am Indian and a chef with Indian heritage. I am proud of knowing a very complex cuisine that people are afraid of (cooking and eating). I use it to my advantage and I refuse to be sorry about that, I am proud of it, but my repertoire of cooking doesn’t start or end there. It was ironic that I was being called “the one trick pony” for my cooking even though I was making grilled cheese doughnut sandwiches and frittatas, and on the other hand when I presented a dish that was as traditional “American” as could be, I was eliminated. I was happy and proud of what I did and from the judges’ reactions, I thought that they liked it too.
If you could have a do-over, what would you change about that fateful dish?
Take the fateful pineapple out! It was the jinx fruit for each and every eliminated contestant so far!
What advice would you give future NIC contestants?
Be yourself. You have reached this competition because of who you are and what you have achieved and this is a game of endurance. It’s relentless and to reach the top you need to have your A+ game every day. There is no option for a “good chef having a bad day.” It results in one not surviving to cook for another day. But at the end of the day, walk away feeling proud of what you have achieved. This in no way reflects what you do in your kitchen, your restaurant in real life. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!