Us Bawajis are known for our legendary love for good food! Taking it a step further, Hyderabad-based 22-year-old Danishi Bhagat, recently made it to Masterchef India’s Top 40 Contestants, in its sixth season. She was among the Top 60 in 2016, and was back fighting for the prestigious title, a second time, in 2019’s Indian chapter of the world’s most celebrated culinary TV show – ‘Masterchef’. With a passion for cooking and the desire to showcase Parsi cuisine to India and the world, Danishi looks forward to working with Vineet Bhatia, one of the world’s top chefs. Born and brought up in Hyderabad, where she lives with her parents and sister, Danishi is a Mass Communications graduate and currently works as a Senior Social Media Expert in an MNC. Parsi Times catches up with the young and dynamic chef, who owns her own thriving, home-run bakery – ‘The Cupcake Makeover’.
PT: Tell us about yourself and your passion for cooking.
Danishi: “My passion for cooking was definitely driven by my grandmother and mother. As a child, I used to see them cook daily and always thought, if they could cook, so can I! I started cooking at the age of 9 and have since, not stopped! By the time I was 11, I cooked without supervision and by 12 I started baking too and took orders – I still do, alongside my sister, Farah, who is part owner and helps me with our home-run bakery, which we named, ‘The Cupcake Makeover’. I’ve never attended any cooking classes. It just naturally came to me. However, I do watch a lot of cookery shows and youtube videos which help in enhancing my knowledge and skills about food,” shares Danishi.
PT: How did participating in Masterchef India come about?
Danishi: Back in 2016, when Masterchef India Season 5 was out, I wasn’t aware of it. One of my friends encouraged me to submit my name, so I did – just for fun! When I got the call for the audition, I thought it was a prank! But eventually went for it at the age of 19 and when I managed to get to India’s Top 60, it made me stronger. This year, I decided to pursue it again, for which I had to give up on my full-time job, but I made it to the Top 40 and also managed to shoot for the first episode! I was ecstatic as one of the three world class chefs judging us was Vineet Bhatia, who I truly look up to. I made our traditional Parsi Dhansaak with kebabs, rice and kachumbar. Presenting this dish in front of them was a dream come true. They were full of praise for the dishes as also our Parsi cuisine and culture and they encouraged me to enhance my skills some more and come back for the next season!
PT: Do you plan to participate again next year in Masterchef India?
Danishi: Absolutely! Like I said, being eliminated after reaching the Top 40 Contestant stage, from amongst lakhs of participants, did not break my confidence – in fact it has only made me stronger and reinforced my convictions! I’m definitely participating next year and I’m going to ensure that my preparation will make me get to at least the Top 5, if not win the title!
PT: Who has been your support system through this journey?
Danishi: My parents and my sister, Farah have always been supportive of everything I do. I still remember, during Season 5, mom had to put everything here in Hyderabad on hold so that she could take me to Mumbai for further rounds. I owe it all to her!
PT: What interests you apart from cooking?
Danishi: Apart from cooking, I’m very passionate about film-making and acting. I’ve made few short films and practice photography almost daily – it’s something I was to turn into my full time profession which would also help me in my food journey, where I can make documentaries on various food cultures and probably come up with my own food channel!
PT: What are your future plans?
Danishi: I’ve always wanted the world to know about our culture and religion. In the future I wish to work towards preserving our dying Parsi food culture, and to travel to remote areas and cook Parsi food and take in the reactions of people towards our cuisine!
PT: What message would you like to share with our community?
Danishi: I wish to tell everyone to truly believe in the saying, ‘It’s never too late’. Age is just a number! As a community, we can really work towards our growth and betterment. We, as youngsters, can spread awareness about our culture and prevent it from dying out.
Here’s wishing Danishi the very best in her future endeavours! May she do us all proud and win top spot in Masterchef India 2020!!