Pankaj Badhouria – The Extraordinary Tale Of India’s First MasterChef 

Women Empowerment By Nalin Kashyap | 3 min read

Pankaj Bhadouria

We often come across stories of people who inspire us beyond belief, stories that not only encourage us but also bring us hope to achieve something big in life. One such story is about Pankaj Badhouria, who made a name for herself and not just that. She also bestowed ambition to others.

Pankaj Badhouria Had Skills In Her Genes 

As Known by many people as the first MasterChef winner in India, Pankaj Bhadouria commenced being the kitchen queen in her childhood days. 

With a Punjabi father, a Bengali mother, and a place like Lucknow, Pankaj Bhadouria celebrates a mixture of native cultures.

Pankaj Badhouria
Source – Instagram

Her association with food began at a very young age because both her parents were excellent chefs. Pankaj’s father was one of the rarest and most celebrated chefs in the region.  So the ability to make finger-licking food runs through her veins. 

However in the later years, she was raised in Delhi, Pankaj lost her father at the age of 13 and remembers the time he took the family to the convent just so the family could enjoy the ‘momos’ which was so uncommon in the days. At the launch of the first pizza chain store in CP, Delhi, Pankaj Badhouria and her family waited in line for 45 minutes to get their Pizza. 

After the death of his father, Pankaj moved to Lucknow, his mother’s home, and thus began his journey to explore and study Awadhi food.

It was this familiarity and love of refined food that made Pankaj a keen host, a great chef, and, later, India’s First Master Chef!

Pankaj Badhouria
Source – Instagram

“Bhabhi ke hath ka khana”

Pankaj Badhouria was among the first to get married in her knowns. Charu Samarth ( Pankaj’s Husband) was the only one who owned a theater and as luck would have, his friends come over to watch movies and enjoy “bhabhi ke hath ka khana”.

masterchef india
Source – Instagram

Appreciating her food from all corners and the family who would be proud of her cooking chops, Panka Badhouria sharpened her craft and polished with the days to come. All of this, while balancing her full-time job as a teacher at CMS and playing the role of a mother.

When MasterChef India’s first television commercial was broadcast nationwide, it was her children who pushed Pankaj Badhouria to take part in it. 

“Please Try Master Chef India”

“When my children told me to try my hand at the show, they said, “Mumma aap toh bohot achha khana banate ho”, I thought this was what every child in the world would be saying to his mother However Pankaj badhouria would herself try her luck in the Master chef India inaugural season. 

masterchef india winners
Source – Instagram

Despite being from Lucknow she did not make Galauti Kabab on the opinion that half of the city would make the same and there will be no uniqueness left. 

Thereafter, Pankaj went with a complex French Chicken roulade and stuffed it with galouti kebab. The poppy-crusted chicken roulade was something she was inspired by Bengali food and culture.

Fusion chicken roulade helped her get into the Top 100, after which she made French-inspired biryani recipes and fried chicken with Chinese curry and hot noodles ring; the last one that helped Pankaj Badhouria get into the MasterChef Top 40.

“Either you leave the show or quit your job”: 

After entering the top 40, Pankaj was told she would have to stay in Mumbai for 3 months if she was selected for the top 12. 

“Quitting a 17-year-old job was a difficult decision, but I believed I had to take a step further” Pankaj Badhouria

Pankaj remembers overflowing with a sense of calm for the last time. It was also chicken roulade, roasted chicken stock with rice and mushrooms cooked in red wine, cranberry cheese, green salad, a combination of award-winning MasterChef India’s Chef Hat. Thus, the fight of being the top Masterchef India began.

Source – Instagram

The Rest Is History

Pankaj Badhouria has earned a reputation high enough to make her a household name. Unlike the other winners of the reality show, which are soon forgotten after a few years of exhibiting more of the show, Pankaj managed to stay in the public eye. With a television program in her name and a lifelong teaching career to move forward with, Pankaj made a natural fusion in teaching cooking.

Pankaj has established her own cooking institute, The center not only offers courses for in-school students but also conducts 4 specialist batches per day. With students arriving from Bhutan, Siliguri, Madhya Pradesh, Kerela, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and even Mumbai, Pankaj is now a full-time chef and cooking teacher.

“Choose a job only if you are sure that this is what you want to do. Standing in front of a fireplace and sweating is not a luxury; it requires a love that burns like light”

To know more about Pankaj Badhouria, follow her on Instagram, and visit her website.

If you loved reading about Pankaj Badhouria, read more about Meet The Pad Woman of India, Anju Bist from Kerala; Makes Reusable Menstrual Pads From Banana Fibre

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