Top 24 of Master Chef Season 3! DID I DESERVE TO KEEP MY APRON????

All of you have already heard my story of winning the judges over and the Master Chef Apron!

So the next challenge was the beef challenge! We followed the judges into this room and as I am standing in the front row, I could see that our stations for Top 36 are all set up. Behind all that is this huge “warehouse” pantry! I call it so because there are all kinds of veggies and nuts, milk, cream and herbs and OMG what not?

My mind is racing as I watch and observe it and all of a sudden I see these huge chunks of beef just hanging down and making its way on either side of the room!

I was ready to throw up to say the least.

1) Being a VEGETARIAN, the beef challenge was definitely the most challenging since I had NEVER EVER cooked MEAT in my life!!!!

2) I was very assertive to all the 3 judges that my principles and beliefs do not let me taste meat and so I NEVER TASTED my BEEF DISH!!!!

3) Does that make me handicapped like Christine who’s blind??? Ofcourse it does, the only senses that were working for me while cooking beef was smell. 

Now while we stand there waiting to collect our beef, I hear this huge loud noise behind me, the doors open and there it is the beef grinding machine or whatever you call it! Joe and Graham take their positions on either side and we all stand in a line to collect our beef.

Meantime, I am the last one standing on the line to collect Beef and I am thinking- Will I pass out ? or Can I do this?

I have always been very different girl growing up in India since my childhood in the sense that I always voiced my opinions and I am extremely strong mentally!

I try to give everything my best and be happy with what I have done rather than give up and regret the whole idea of what I had started.

So like any sane, strong person would do, I said to myself- Lets do it! I am taking up this challenge and giving it my best. I have NO IDEA on the TEXTURE of beef NOR was I going to TASTE IT  BUT AND here’s a huge BUT——–I LOVE TO TAKE UP CHALLENGES AND with THE CONFIDENCE OF BEING A GOOD COOK, I knew I was going to give it my best and give them a decent dish.

It was my turn to collect the beef in a bowl that was given to me and suddenly JOE remarks ” OH! YOU ARE THE VEGETARIAN IN THE SHOW”

and I am like “Yes” . He has the usual smirk on his face and says” I want to see what you come up with”? and I simply smiled.

Now Graham looks up to me and is like” Isnt Cow considered like the holy animal in India?” and I am like “Well, yes! I am sure my mom and my family would disown me if they see me cooking beef  but I love challenges so bring it on!”

Now Were they trying to mess up with my head????? I HAVE NO CLUE!

I go back to my station and Gordon screams “Your time starts now”

I run to the pantry and its craziness —people stepping on me and pulling stuff-utterly chaotic! So what do I make????

I see spinach, cilantro and mint so I grab those first. Then I see some Israeli Cous Cous, Potatoes and Peanuts!

With regards to spices, the only Indian spices that I found were cumin and cinnamon. I decide to pick those up as well.

I come back to my station and start cooking. I cook my spinach and put it in a blender with my mint and cilantro and make my sauce.

I also saute some garlic, onions and tomatoes with the spices that I have and throw that in the blender as well to complete my sauce. Meantime I am trying to start on my Israeli Cous Cous and THERE YOU GO AGAIN! THE GAS REFUSES TO TURN ON! I am screaming like a mad person—-Frank Mirando my fellow contestant and a good friend is looking at me helplessly! After about 5 minutes of screaming ” My gas is switched off and cant turn it on — I cant cook – somebody help” There is this guy who comes crawling underneath and does something and the gas starts working ! I am relieved and start cooking my Israeli Cous Cous and Potatoes. I wanted to toast some peanuts in a pan so I am trying to work simultaneously with all the burners that I am given and lo and behold! The whole thing goes OFF AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

I am literally on the verge of crying – and screaming” Somebody fix my burners and gas” It switches off each time I start to work on a new burner ” I struggle to cook my beef with the one burner that started working while the technician works on the others. I lose so much time hustling with the burners and the gas that I hear Gordon scream” 2 min’s to plate”. I dont even have the plates picked from the pantry for plating. So I run a marathon to go get whatever plates my eyes laid on first and pick the, run back to my station and throw everything that I cooked on it and by then, TIME’S UP!!!!

We are asked to leave the room and let the judges taste and make their decisions!!!!I have a splitting headache by the end of this and am about to pass out.

Once the judges finish tasting, we are called back into the room. All of us stand in our respective stations and Gordon announces” The 12 of you whose names I call out come and stand to the right of me” and they all stand as per Gordon’s instructions:

Group 1: These are Ryan Umane, Samantha de Silva, Becky Reams, Mike Hill, Felix Fang, Scott Little, Tali Clavijo, Stacey Amagrande, Helene Leeds, Michael Chen, Joshua Marks, and Frank Mirando!

Group 2: The other set of 12 who were asked to stand on the left side of the judges were ” Krystal Mandap, Brain Kho, Audrey McGinnis, Nichelle Wright, Raiza Costa, Kaimana Chee, El Bronco, Melanie Lowry, Barry Plunkett, Thomas Wright, Kim Maloof and Joel Ringrose.

The other group of 12 of us including me are standing in our stations staring at everything and totally in shock!

Gordon finally announces that the group of people (Group 1) standing to his right has impressed them so much that they are going straight to the Top 18 where as the other group (Group 2) to his left has proved they are way over there head and will be going home:(

I am shocked and looking at the people who walk past me leaving the room- they had some amazing cooks whom I knew were truly talented:(

Well, the story aint over yet! I am standing there in my station- my heart beating so loud that I bet the entire room could hear it with so much of silence and tension ! The judges now ask us -the contestants standing in the work stations to come over to the front.

Group 3: Nandini Anant(thats me), Bubba Strickland, David Mack, David Martinez, Tanya Noble, Christine Ha, Rami Rassas, Sherine Taylor, Anna Rossi, AJ Rossi, Monti Carlo, Courtney Carey.

They decided to choose David Mack, David Martinez, Tanya Noble, Anna Rossi, Monti Carlo and Christine Ha to join the rest of the 12 contestants to make the TOP 18 who will enter the Master Chef kitchen. The rest were asked to drop their aprons and go back home.

Now here’s the question???? DID I DESERVE TO KEEP MY APRON????

According to, “Nandini is next and she makes Beef & Spinach Curry with Israeli Couscous and Potatoes. Graham says everything is cooked properly, but doesn’t scream out with flavor. Chef Ramsay says the flavors are good.”


REALLY?  FOR A PERSON WHO NEVER EVER COOKED BEEF IN HER LIFE, NEVER TASTED BEEF or HER DISH—–There were people who cooked beef all their life and did not get it right—-it wasnt cooked properly, well the judges made the comments themselves on the show on how undercooked their beef was or how overcooked it was?

GORDON RAMSAY even makes 2 or 3 digs on my plate and says” THE FLAVORS ARE GOOD”. Why in the name of God wouldnt you let me proceed to the TOP 18?

If I can cook beef well without even knowing about it or cooking it for the first time and after even having not tasted it, why on earth would you send me back home???

More than half the country is struggling to achieve Vegetarianism and wants to follow and maintain it rather than slip and fall back into eating meat again. They need help, they need more recipes, more good vegetarian food with variety!!!

Also, they need absolutely healthy but delicious recipes to cook up in a few minutes at home everyday!


I must also say this that I am immensely thankful for the opportunity that the Judges gave me on Master Chef. It was an absolutely fun, learning experience and I have taken away the best and positive experience with me!

Thanks to all my followers on facebook and twitter who have showered their love and support in this journey of mine- You are the best audience!




7 Responses to “Top 24 of Master Chef Season 3! DID I DESERVE TO KEEP MY APRON????”
  1. Harish says:

    With due respect to your culinary skills the main reason why they had you on the show even though they very well knew that they will be getting you out in the first couple of rounds was to have some culturally mixed sample of people.. They didn’t want just one sect of people participating all through the season which might make it very boring to watch.

    I firmly believe that making something without even tasting it is definitely credible enough to warrant you a spot in the next stage but not sure you would be have been able to make some stuff without actually tasting or knowing its taste, in the next stages.

    Reality shows are 50% based on TV viewership and the other 50% on Talent… Master chef is just one of the platforms, there are plenty of people out there reading your blog and inspired seeing you cook, Good Luck !

  2. vishy says:

    U made ur presence felt and chose to keep ur principles…That scores over the rest …rest really doesnt matter.. Master Chef is prob one of the platforms..there could be many others…All of us r with u… keep ur spirits high …

  3. Hey Nandini hats off to you for what you have done. I completely agree with your friend that none of us would have dared to do what you’ve done. I would have chickened out had i know that i had to cook with an ingredient i have never ever seen with my bare eyes. But you did and you stuck to ur principle which is awesome. To me you are one helluva cook i especially like the way to present your dishes and the way you coin those names for dishes. Your blog is awesome and you must continue to write more and more. BTW i am planning to watch the MC which is going to be telecasted today in India to see how you got that apron for your signature dish. Good luck Nandini. Keep up your good work.

  4. Lekha says: proud of you!! did well and thats all that matters at the end of the day!!! Good luck and god bless!!

  5. aimee says:

    Nandini ~ you SO deserved to stay and cook your food. You did a wonderful job cooking with an ingredient that you never even tasted. Gordon had no bad comeents at all…so why you? Go figure…same with Sammi, nothing wrong with the cake and they sent her packing lol. To overcome that kind of obstacle shows you are a truly talented cook. Remember, its a show and in no way is a true measure of your ability. I hope we can taste some of your food sometime this summer. We would love to have you over to “catch up”. We just watched tonights episode and so sorry to see the talented 19 year old Michael leave.

    Good job & keep on cooking!!…..please stay in touch with Sammi! She realy looked up to you & we appreciate you taking care of her in LA!! See you soon…

  6. Gina says:

    Hi Nandini. I met you and your husband in Whole Foods yesterday. The food you were preparing looked wonderful. I took your recipes and will try them out. I goggled you after learning you were on M.C. (I don’t watch TV very often) and read your story. I am very impressed that you left your well paying job to pursue cooking (your passion), that is what is important in life. I was also impressed that you were able to cook the beef on M.C. Being Vegetarian since childhood and never cooking meat I would never have been able to go near it. Thanks for sharing your recipes and story. We need more talented vegetarian chefs! I wish you continued success in all of your endeavors. Gina

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