From humble beginnings on the streets of Nepal, to winning the nation’s hearts on Masterchef: The Professionals, chef Santosh Shah is putting Nepalese cuisine firmly on the map.
Santosh’s talent, skill and passion has been laid bare for all to see as he competed on the UK’s most prestigious cookery competition, Masterchef: The Professionals, coming in second place against 32 other professional chefs.
Santosh shone a light on Nepalese cuisine in all its glory, introducing the judges, food critics and esteemed chefs to flavours and ingredients they had never experienced before. His dishes wowed throughout the competition, with The Guardian’s Grace Dent noting ‘this is the most beautiful plate of food I’ve ever been served on Masterchef’ and esteemed judge Monica Galetti commenting, ‘it’s a real master of art to be able to use spices as he does.’
Santosh’s first culinary job was as a kitchen and commis chef in an Indian hotel when he was just 14. From then on, he worked tremendously hard, rising through the hospitality ranks in India, and eventually moving to the UK in 2010. Once in London, Santosh worked at some of the most renowned Indian kitchens, holding positions at Michelin-starred Benares restaurant and super trendy Dishoom, before becoming a Sous Chef at The Cinnamon Club and eventually Head Chef at its sister restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen.
Santosh worked at The Cinnamon Collection with Vivek Singh for three years, cooking for MP’s at The Cinnamon Club and City workers at Cinnamon Kitchen. He then took a position as Executive Chef at the five-star LaLit Hotel in London.
What’s next? Santosh is looking forward to the future and what it may hold. His goal is to open a Nepalese restaurant in London and be awarded a Michelin star. For now, he will continue working on his skills, and learning from his mentors, to continue bettering himself and his cooking.
Santosh says: “Coming second on Masterchef is a dream come true, and I could not be more honoured! It has been an incredible experience that I will never forget.
“My mission now is to show the world how amazing Nepalese cuisine is, with vibrant and interesting ingredients and flavours that deserve to be enjoyed by the masses!
“Cooking authentic Nepalese food on Masterchef and experimenting with dishes I grew up eating has been an absolute joy and I am so happy that the judges loved them! For now I am going to keep working hard, experimenting and learning and we’ll see what 2021 brings!”