Bringing honours to the Indian culinary – which is globally a hit among gourmets and foodies alike – for the second time in MasterChef Australia is Justin Narayan. Narayan won the keenly contested event winning a cash prize of $250,000 dollars which is about Rs.1.86 crores.
To get to the top, Narayan beat Kishwar Chowdhury, who is from Bangladesh originally and Pete Campbell from New South Wales. Incidentally, 38-year-old Chowdhury as the second runner-up received $20,000 while Campbell, 36 years of age, picked up $30,000 as the first runner-up.
Narayan, 27 years old, is the second Indian-origin contestant to take home the trophy after Sashi Chelliah, a prison guard who did so in 2018.
Hailing from Western Australia, Narayan’s culinary skills are deeply influenced by his Indian and Fijian origins. Among the dishes he made to win the hearts of the judges and of course the points, included Indian Chicken Curry, Indian Chicken Tacos, and Charcoal Chicken with Toum.
On winning the first prize, Narayan took to Instagram and wrote: “Find people that believe in you. Back yourself. Go hard and hopefully you’ll surprise yourself! Whoever’s reading this I love you."
He displayed his witty trait as he said: “I’m genuinely going to take a week to process this and let it sink in, and then I’ll, like, write you an email, let you know how I feel," he said.
At the same time he showed his modest side when he speaking to News18 he stated: "It is a very humbling experience and I am absolutely honoured to be a part of it. I’m going to be a sponge and try to enjoy as much of it as I can."
Recalling some of the extraordinary moments of the event, Narayan said: "“One of my all-time favourite dishes was the charcoal chicken and toum, it’s super delicious and reminds me of a lot of good times with a lot of good mates. My favourite challenge was definitely cooking at Andy’s Three Blue Ducks restaurant. That kitchen was unreal and running a real service, very addictive."
Justin Narayan with the judges Andy Allen, Jock Zonfrillo, and Melissa Leong
The judges of the show were Andy Allen, an Australian chef, who won the MasterChef Season 4 title; Jock Zonfrillo, a Scottish celebrity chef based in Melbourne; and Melissa Leong, Australian TV host, freelance food writer and cookbook editor.
Zonfrillo in his post praised Narayan’s consistency and ability to learn. He wrote: “Justin, Mate, congratulations on such an epic achievement! You were Captain Consistency – I said it so many times throughout the season. You kept your head down, you learnt, you did the work, and that’s what it takes to pick up the MasterChef trophy. Your humility underpinned your skill – that was the winning combination.”
Know The Winner
Narayan is a first-generation Australian who took to cooking early when he was barely 13.
What really impressed the judges and audience alike besides his culinary skills was cool attitude even in the face of high-stress situations and of course the originality of his dishes. Fans loved his sense of responsibility when completing his tasks.
Love for food came to Narayan naturally as he ascribes it to his genetics and grandparents who inculcated this love in him. “Growing up I was constantly around food, mum or grandma were always cooking because someone always seemed to be coming over. So I guess food and hospitality have always been in the culture of our family so that was a pretty good initiation. Growing up I absolutely loved watching cooking shows and so did my grandparents so that was the little thing that we would always bond over.”
Narayan made an interesting point when on the show he was asked about the effect of cultures namely, Indian and Fijian on his cooking style and ability. “It’s interesting because I think growing up it was a little embarrassing bringing food that was different to everyone else. I think like every other kid, you just want to fit in. But luckily since then, I’ve learned to appreciate my culture more so I guess MasterChef is my chance to do that on a plate.”
Displaying his camaraderie and sportsmanship, Narayan graciously praised Kishwar Chowdhury and Pete Campbell handsomely. According to dailymail.co.uk he said: “First of all, I would like to commend Kish and Pete for being the most incredible people to cook with. Kish, you're an incredible cook and you should be so proud.”
The final three Kishwar Chowdhury, Justin Narayan and Pete Campbell (Pic: Courtesy smh.com.au)
Referring to Campbell whom he thought of as a big brother, Narayan said: “Pete, I look up to you in so many ways, you're like my big brother. I definitely wouldn't be here today without your encouragement, without your support.”
Another Indian contestant, Depinder Chhibber too created waves in the show as he earned handsome praise from the judges for her dishes like kadai paneer, cholle, tandoori chicken, naan, lassi and chicken biryani.
Highlighting the presence of Indian dishes in the show, judge Allen said: "I think Indian dishes have always been super prevalent on MasterChef but I think this year you've got two superstars like Depinder and (Bangladesh origin) Kishwar, who time after time are smashing challenges and they're bringing complex Indian dishes and Indian curries that are just perfect.”