When Shazia decided to pursue her dream of being a chef with MasterChef India, little did she know she would win hearts across the country and become a household name. Today, Shazia is a celebrity chef on FOODFOOD channel and that’s just the beginning of her dreams.
Q:1 What prompted you to apply for MasterChef India and how did your family react to it?
In every Indian family, a girl is first known as someone’s daughter, and then as some one’s wife. I always nurtured this deep desire to have my own identity, my own ‘Wajood’. My children, who were keenly following Master Chef Season I, hit upon the idea of me participating in the Season II. My family and friends always felt that I was a great cook. At first, the whole idea seemed farfetched to me. How was I, someone who cooked for family and friends, for the pure joy of cooking and serving happy faces, to compete on a large platform?
Ultimately the confidence and faith that my sons had in me, propelled me to take the plunge and I decided that MasterChef 2 would me the best platform because this is what I was passionate about, it came naturally to me. Also, I had no fears or expectations from the show. I was in there for the love of cooking, for the excitement and the learning that was to come out it.
My family was extremely happy to see my dream come true.
Q:2 How was your experience on the show?
I took the plunge, that would take me into a whole new world. I began a journey of 3 months in a new place, away from loved ones with strangers who soon became an integral part of my life.
My journey through Master Chef Season–II, was one of self discovery and self realization. I discovered hidden talents and potential that I never knew existed and would have never surfaced if MasterChef had not provided me with this life altering experience. I learnt to handle extreme pressure and to maintain my cool under all circumstances. I discovered that my creative instincts multiplied manifold in trying situations. I dared to be innovative and took decisions within seconds. I also realized the strength that comes from being extremely focused. I dreamt, visualized and worked on all the brilliant facts of food and cooking!
For someone whose world was her family, I found family and friends in my fellow contestants. It broadened my perspective of life. I learnt to be more accepting and tolerant of others and to appreciate the diversity in people. I got the opportunity to meet and work with the greatest chefs of our country who guided and motivated me. In all, it was the most beautiful experience of my life.
Q:3 You currently host ‘K for Kids’ on FOODFOOD. How did you get this opportunity?
I would like to thank FOODFOOD and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor for giving me the opportunity to host ‘K for Kids’. I have always loved being around with kids and there has always been so much to learn from them. They always make you feel so happy and positive. We had loads of fun working on the show. Apart from this, there is immense freedom given to innovate and create dishes that are extremely appealing to a child’s palate rather that just presenting a quick fix of recipes.
Q:4 From being a Masterchef participant to being a celebrity cook today, tell us about the obstacles you have faced in your journey and how you overcame?
From an amateur cook to a Masterchef, I had journeyed far and hard from being an ordinary woman who cooked for her family and friends to a Masterchef, who had won a million hearts across the globe.
I am overwhelmed by the love and affection that people have shown me, their prayers and blessings…It is more than anyone could ask for!!!!! It is an honor to hear people say that I am living their dream.
Cooking has always been the focal point in my life; the picture though now has become larger and clearer. From just looking at flavors and varieties, my view of cooking has broadened with emphasis on presentation, experimentation, unheard combinations, innovations, and newer creations.
Thankfully I did not face any obstacles as such in this journey. I have enjoyed myself thoroughly, learning all the way.
Q:5 You were a homemaker prior to Masterchef happened. Were there any apprehensions or difficulties going from a safe family environment to a competitive one?
No, there were no difficulties or apprehension for me, as I had full support from my family. I was not in the competition for the money or the position, but purely for the passion of cooking. I had confidence in my abilities and so I took each step as it came, giving it my best, competing with a true spirit and gave a tough competition to my fellow contestants.
Q:6 We’ve heard you want to open a cooking school for the underprivileged women. Tell us more.?
My top most priority is to start a Training Institute for aspiring chefs (Girls from underprivileged homes), who have tremendous potential to be great chefs, but will never have world class training and exposure. Empowering them with culinary skills, I would also like to make this institute a placement cell, where these young women could find a respectable job, become independent and self sufficient.
Q:7 Apart from the school, what are you other future plans?
I am working on two cookery books, out of which one will be published this year. I would also like to travel to remote corners of the world, bring their cuisine to the masses and take ours to them, Through a travel cum cookery show, and of course continue sharing my cooking knowledge through my cookery classes/ shows.
Q:8 You received no formal training in cooking yet are one of the biggest names in the country when it comes to it. Any words of motivation for our readers on the occasion?
I am extremely grateful to the almighty for this.I have not received any formal training in cooking, but I believe if you are passionate about something, you will always enjoy doing that the most and you will give it your best. A hobby that started as a kid turned into my profession.I strongly feel that one must never cease to learn, hence I still have lots to learn and a long way to go.
As Robert Frost said,’The woods are dark and deep, but I have miles to go before I sleep’.
Always believe in yourself , your abilities, your dreams. Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars.