Abi Lindsay Clark met with Shipra Khanna, the winner of MasterChef India, to ask her about her life and success.
I understand that your life hasn’t always been so easy and like many Indian women, you were married at a very young age, can you share these experiences with us?
India is a country where women are still fighting for their existence and rights.
They are suppressed and under pressure from family for a lot of their life decisions, they aren’t given a choice in getting married or having children. Unfortunately, this still exists in many parts of our country. It was a really tough phase for me but I knew that I had to stand up for myself as no one else would and I’d reached a saturation point beyond comprehension, they refused to give me any alimony and didn’t let me see my children.
I was literally thrown out for not obeying their rules, it was really inhumane! I had no choice but to start life again, I had no idea how to, I was literally starting from ground zero! I was educated enough and a bright student but had never really been independent or worked (as it’s not allowed in some families, like mine) so it was very difficult to start working and earning.
It was like the world had come to an end for me but then my mother enrolled me in MasterChef, it was like a silver lining and winning it gave me a platform for living my dream and turning my passion into my profession!
What is life like for a career woman in India today?
It’s really empowering to see that Indian women are progressing and educating themselves to become more and more independent! They are heading companies and many are now ‘The Boss women’ in their own fields.
But as you know India is a huge country and the same age-old norms of suppression and being illtreated still exist in many parts. It’s Changing slowly but surely!
Where did your passion for cooking first come from?
I realised my passion for cooking when my daughter Yadavi, who is a big foodie and suffering from cerebral Palsy & the doctor did not allow her to eat outside food, so I started to cook all sorts of food for her at home making it healthy for her to enjoy without worrying about anything! This is where it all began and I learnt to create new recipes all because of her!
How did you feel in the moment when they announced that you were the winner of the second edition of master chef?
Winning MC-2 India was really unexpected as there were so many talented people participating with better family lives and support. I was so happy & grateful for a show like MC which helped me reclaim my life and start it again with my head held high and I knew this was just the beginning!
How has winning MasterChef changed your life?
Winning MC gave me a new life, a platform to turn my passion into my profession as that’s all I knew, that’s all I’m good at I.e. cooking and creating! Now a decade into my profession I’m an author, a presenter, I have TV shows across the globe in UAE, United States and India.
I create content for social media, I have a YouTube channel called Shipra’s Kitchen and I travel & curate menus for very exclusive dinners. Being the ambassador of Masterchef Travels, I have travelled to more than 60 countries, working with local and Michelin star chefs across the globe, consulting for restaurants and being a motivational speaker.
Now I am working on my 9th cookbook and my restaurant, so there’s a lot to be grateful for, I’ve come a long way from where I started!
You have an extensive connection with Spain and have carried out projects here, can you share your experiences with us?
Spain is one of my favourite countries, the people, food, produce, gastronomy everything attracts me here time and time again.
My love with Spain started when I first came here in 2015 as an ambassador of Masterchef Travels, the bar crawling & tapas took me by surprise! I have travelled extensively to the Basque Country, Cordoba, Sevilla, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and Andalusia.
I kept returning for more, as a culinary ambassador to Spain, shooting my content here and learning more and more! I have hosted a dinner at Bilbaina in Bilbao for all the members there in July 2022, another one at Jauregibarria and an exclusive Indian Dinner at Arpit in Madrid with the Indian embassy.
I held a masterclass of Indian cuisine with my twist as Indian tapas in association with the Indian embassy at the Valladolid tapas concert on 8th & 9th November 2022. I have filmed in Getaria with Basqvium and I cooked an exclusive dinner in one of the best wine regions in Ribera de Duero with sommeliers and vineyard owners in July 2022.
You have written various cookery books, could you tell us about them?
I have written 8 books:
My spice trail – All about my journey & recipes I cooked during MC and before & after as well.
Sinfully yours – A dessert cookbook after my show ‘pure sin’ a dessert show which became really popular!
Superfood for an awesome memory – Food that’s really good for the brain based on ingredients that help the brain to absorb information better.
Simply Indian series – A series of Indian regional recipes in separate books,
Simply Gujarati, Simply Maharashtrian, Simply Punjabi, Simply Himachali
#Healthunlimited – I wrote this book during the lockdown to help people boost their immune system, based on principles of Ayurveda this book has simple yet amazing recipes for everyone!
I am currently working on my 9th book for 2023.
What advice would you give someone aspiring to work in the culinary world?
Hard work, resilience, patience & creativity is all one needs to succeed in the culinary field!
What future plans and goals do you have?
Working on a few international TV Shows, my restaurant, travels & my new cookbook, Looking forward to everything!
Thank you Shipra!