Nepal-born chef Santosh Shah won BBC One MasterChef: the revenge of the professionals beating three other MasterChef finalists – Armitage-Mattin and Bart van der Lee of 2020, and Jamie Park of 2017.
The judges – Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace – were impressed with his 18 dishes vegan Nepalese Dashain Festival inspired feast at the culinary show finale.
Notably, Dashain is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra in parts of India.
The vegan platter included jackfruit steak, onion salad, rice crackers, green banana curry, sesame and chilli pickle, red yam, tempered grapefruit, spicy potato and pointed squash, rice pilaf with nuts and mashed rice or hemp bread and chutneys of smoked tomatoes, leaf sun-dried chickpeas, curried mushrooms and Nepalese daal with black lentils.
“You really came home to bring me the flavor. I feel like I made the trip with you, ”Judge Monica said.
Upon winning the coveted title, Shah said, “I feel great. I cooked vegan because people think vegan food isn’t tasty or boring. Look at these comments. Oh my God.”
According to his site chefsantoshshah.com, the London-based chef’s first culinary job was as a cook and clerk in an Indian hotel when he was just 14 years old. After moving to the UK in 2010 he worked in some of the most renowned Indian kitchens, holding positions at Michelin – played Benares and Dishoom, before becoming sous chef at Cinnamon Club and eventually chef de cuisine in his sister restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen.
After being a finalist in season 10 of MasterChef: The Professionals last year, in an interview with lovefood.com, he said: “I didn’t want to win a title, I wanted to put Nepalese cuisine on the culinary world map and I think I succeeded. After Covid, I will open a Nepalese gourmet restaurant in central London.
Did you pre-order your SIGNED copy of ‘Ayla: A Feast of Nepali Plats from Terai, Hills and the Himalayas’ by Santosh Shah (@chefsantoshshah)?
Celebrate the flavors of Nepal with easy-to-follow recipes and the culinary wisdom of Santosh.
– WHSmith (@WHSmith) 22 December 2021
The 36-year-old chef also releases a cookbook Ayla: a feast of Nepalese dishes from the Terai, the hills and the Himalayas.