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

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!




My Baked Okra Lasagna!

My Baked Okra Lasagna!


I have been cooking up a storm this last weekend! Why? The reason being………YAY I am one of the Top 36 in Master Chef USA Season 3 &

all my friends have been calling me and wanting to just barge in and see whats cooking in my kitchen:)

Me and my family love one vegetable and thats OKRA!!!! Some of my friends are not huge fans of it so I decided to make something creative yet healthy and currylicious for them so they fall in love with it:)

I made whats called “My Baked Okra Lasagna” – thats right! I baked my Okra after slitting ’em and applying my special curry rub on ’em!

Then I layer it with a curried onion tomato sauce and its ready in no time……This is such a great dish to prepare if you have guests to entertain who are vegetarians!

Slit the okra, apply my curry rub, throw ’em in a baking pan and in goes it for about 20 minutes at 360 degrees! Meanwhile I chop up some onions, garlic and tomatoes real fine and make an onion tomato sauce with my blend of curry powder & spices ….

Take your baking pan with the okra out and stack’ em up one layer of okra and one layer of onion tomato paste!

Absolutely healthy and currylicious….try this out and you will thank me:) for falling in love with “Okra”

Winning a Master Chef Apron from Gordon Ramsay, Graham & Joe!

Winning a Master Chef Apron from Gordon Ramsay, Graham & Joe!

On June 5th 2012, which was yesterday, the second round of Master Chef Season 3 auditions was telecast on Fox and it was my big day as I was cooking  for the esteemed judges!

We invited some of our close family and friends for a Viewing Party and they all came home to cheer and support me:) I was busy the whole day prepping for my Big day! I kept getting calls from friends and family who were so supportive.I had prepared so much food so all of us could just sit down, relax and eat while we watch the auditions that evening. The second round of Master Chef auditions were to be telecast on Fox at 9pm after Hell’s Kitchen at 8pm EST! And so we all settled down in our couchwith food and drinks and then IT BEGAN!















































The second round of auditions kicked off and suddenly after the emotional shocking exit of Luca, again a very good friend and works as a restaurant manager in New York- there I was! I was shown running out with the most prized possession- the Master Chef Apron towards my husband and my daughters:) I got several calls from family and friends asking me what my Signature dish was and were all eager to know what happened inside when the Master Chef door opens? and what the judges had to say about my Signature dish?

So I definitely wanted to share my experience prior to winning that apron with all of you. So here goes- My Signature dish was a “Spicy Egg Curry with Cashew Peas Pilaf and a Pomegranate Raita”. I basically grew up with this dish which was particularly made often in a place like Kerala where I hail from in the South of India. “Raita” is basically a coolant, it cleanses one’s palette off the spices and has a cooling effect!

I had just one hour to prepare the dish and one would think thats plenty of time but with all the commotion that goes around and fellow contestants cooking, coming towards you and asking you what you are making and what you added and how you plan to plate it – time just flies. There are families of contestants who are eager to watch, some are screaming and cheering, there is so much going on that I think it was very very very hard to focus! Anyway, I managed to finish my dish in one hour and was ready to go! I cooked my rice in the pressure cooker and looked perfect and smelled very nice- filled up the room. Most of my fellow contestants wanted to taste it 🙂 so I thought that was good. Overall, I was pretty confident going in but there still was that little bit of nervousness when the door opens and you still dont know what to expect! As I enter, I wave to all the 3 judges. The judges ask me to introduce myself and I tell them that I am a stay at home mom of 2 girls who used to work as a Microbiologist full time and quit my job to pursue my passion which is Cooking! Graham asked me where I am from and I said- New Jersey and then they asked me “Where are you originally from”? and I said -India. Gordon jumps in and asks me- “Which part of India do you belong ?” and I immediately have this smile and tell him proudly- Kerala! OMG! Gordon wouldnt stop because he loves Kerala and has been there and so he starts talking to me about the place. I keep rambling back and tell them that my mom doesnt feel that cooking is very reputable because back in India, if you are interested in cooking then you are considered a cook or a maid- A BIG NO NO- Not considered a noble profession!

I also tell them that I got to the US after my marriage which was 7 years ago and that my husband worked in NY city!  I also mentioned to them that “Ours was an arranged marriage” and they are all shocked to hear that. Joe even says that its not too late to change my mind LOL! Gordon says” Congratulations on completing 7 years of successful marriage”! and I thank them for their kind words.

OK People, now is the time…..Gordon says looking at the clock your 5 minutes is almost over and my heart jumps out of my chest- I am not even thinking clearly:)

It is so hard to be in that room with the judges and talk and plate at the same time. I was planning to make my “Pomegranate Raita” in front of them.

There was hardly any time left and i was moving like this crazy person trying to toast my spices and plate up my dish. I finally somehow manage and plate my dish! First Gordon walks up to me, tastes, walks back. Next was Graham, who walks up to me and asks me what spices I toasted and if I used fresh Pomegranates? for my Raita.

Lastly, Joe walks towards me and I think al the judges could hear my heart beat -it was that loud. Joe has this intimidating way of looking at you and tasting your dish that it completely freaks me out.

Now up until this point, I had not mentioned to them that I was a Vegetarian and have never cooked or eaten meat. Growing up in India, I was raised a vegetarian and my husband is one too! So I have been a vegetarian for 32 years now. I dont eat any kind of meat or fish:) due to 2 reasons- 1) Religious and 2) because I am against killing of animals:)
I knew what was coming next – Joe Bastianich asked me the question that I was looking to avoid the most:) He said to me” I cant wait till your next challenge and see how you handle it?” Graham asked me how I would cook meat if it was given to me in a challenge and I said to him “I would cook meat but not taste it”

I had to repeat that several times and be assertive that irrespective of whatever happens, my principles do not allow me to taste meat and I wouldnt do it.

So finally Gordon says, YES or NO?everyone……

and he says For me, ITS A YES. He said it was one of the best dishes and authentic curry that he had ever tasted. This was a huge compliment for me!!

Graham said he liked the technique that I displayed in toasting the spices and adding them to the dishes! Graham said he was skeptical about the meat part but solely based on the dish- he gives me a YES!!!YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Finally it was Joe Bastianich’s turn. He also expressed his concern about my Vegetarianism and was trying to intimidate me by saying what if my hands are smothered with blood from some animal 🙁

I was freaking out and all I said to them was” Please give me a chance”

Finally Joe says  the most amazing words to me- “Your plate and dish represents you, it represents finesse and class”!!!!!!

I was weeping like a baby by the time he finished his words………

I had a blast and a great time with the judges and I will cherish those few minutes with them my entire life:)































I am thrilled to be on the TOP 36! of Master Chef Season 3:)

Please support me by liking me on my Official Fan Page: and follow me on Twitter at #MC3Nandini

Stay tuned for the recipe of my currylicious Signature Dish: “Spicy Egg Curry with Cashew Peas Pilaf and  Pomegranate Raita” coming up on my blog soon!

My moments and clicks from Master Chef!

My moments and clicks from Master Chef!

Congratulations to every contestant who made it to the Top 100 ! I was told that there were 50 000 hopefuls who auditioned all over the country out of which they chose the top 100 home cooks. And I feel that in itself is a huge accomplishment:)

The amount of passion that every contestant cooked with was immense and I felt shocked and honored at the same time to compete with everyone.

Last night was epic, a blind contestant Christine, a high school student Samantha, 19 year old Michael Chen and Josh who won the hearts of the judges with his Shrimp Étouffée ! He’s the tallest guy I ever came across 🙂 They have all been awesome friends.
I remember that Kelly had to sit up all night to stitch up her dress that got torn somehow in the sets and she was so upset! She mentioned to me that she hardly got any sleep before her auditions of presenting her Signature Dish before the judges:(
Well I also have to mention Victoria Redstall the lady in red dress who writes about serial killers. She visits all the famous jails and interviews and writes about the lives of Serial killers. I had the most fantastic time chatting with her:) and listening to creepy stories!
(I have clicked a picture with her that I have pasted below so you guys know who she is- the woman in red – Victoria Redstall).

And then there was Jason Maur the attorney who can chop slice and cook! Look for him @maurpowerfoodie!We also saw Scott Little get an apron. Lastly, the single mom – how can I not mention my good friend Monti Carlo and her son DANGER. Being a mom of 2 girls myself, I could immediately relate to her and we connected well. She is a great friend and love that kiddo Danger! She s a great single mom, courageous and with a great sense of humor. “for real, shut your mouth” to Graham Elliot is what won her an apron 🙂

Well it was a great night last night but don’t forget to tune in tonight at 9 pm on Fox to watch yet another fun interesting ride with my inspirational judges Gordon, Graham and Joe Bastianich! Tweet me @Curryliciousme or my official Master Chef twitter account which is #MC3 Nandini Anant to let me know your thoughts!

Well good luck to all the contestants who cook tonight!






Do you think Samantha deserved an Apron?

Do you think Samantha deserved an Apron?

Master Chef season 3 airs today June 4th at 9pm on Fox channel and tomorrow Jun 5th as well!

Watch me cook my signature dish tomorrow! Do you think I will get an apron from Gordon, Graham and Joe?

I would love to know what you guys thought about my Signature dishes after you watch the show!

I was blessed to meet some very talented wonderful people at the auditions and I am posting a picture of this person who has become such a good friend of mine. She s none other than Samantha Kate! She s the sweetest girl I have ever met and my roommate! We had such fun throughout the show and I personally thought she should have got an apron:(

Here s a picture of me with Samantha!

Tune in to my blog to view more pictures and interesting stuff from the auditions of Master Chef!


You can see my disappointment and my husband s when Sam didn’t get an Apron. Are you kidding me? That Quadruple Carrot Cake was delish!