'I Was In An Uncharted Territory': Depinder Chhibber’s Shock Elimination From MasterChef Australia Ends With Tears

On Tuesday night, a bombshell hit our screens when Depinder Chhibber was eliminated during a pressure test challenge in the Northern Territory.

With Simpson’s Camp as their beautiful backdrop, Depinder, Pete, Tommy and Kishwar went head-to-head in a cook inspired by the landscape around them. Guest chef, Rayleen Brown provided a selection of native Indigenous ingredients, and they had to use one or more as the star of their dish.

“We had a pretty good idea that we would be cooking with Indigenous ingredients considering we were in the heart of Australia,” Depinder told 10 play. “But what we didn’t know was that we were going to see Rayleen Brown, which was epic! I have her cookbook and have watched all her videos, so I just didn’t expect to see her face-to-face. None of us could ever dream of having her there and having the opportunity to cook for her.”

Depinder was eager to showcase the flavours of Indigenous ingredients in her dish and decided to stray from her usual style of cooking.

“I knew if I used too many Indian spices, or strong flavours, it was going to be really hard for the native ingredients to shine. So, I was going to do something really different that I’d never done before,” she said.

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Jumping completely outside of her comfort zone, she created a Tomato Salad with Tomato Gazpacho and a Warrigal Greens Damper. Despite the dish sending her home, she was still very proud of what she made.

“I’m not going to say that I am embarrassed with what I put up because I was in an uncharted territory. I was really happy with the dish, the way it presented and held together with different textures and flavours. I did use quite a few Indigenous ingredients and I just wanted to make a delicious plate of food for the judges,” she said.

Cooking in the Northern Territory was a highlight on her MasterChef journey, but she mentioned that she did struggle more with this pressure test.

“The kitchen is so challenging and sometimes it comes down to how you’re feeling on the day. If your mind isn’t in the game, you could be the top cook in the competition, but you still end up going home,” she said.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time that I went into the kitchen, I felt extremely positive and extremely good about cooking, but I think during the pressure test, my mindset and not being able to shake off the team challenge weighed me down.”

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Depinder believes it isn’t just about having one ‘bad’ dish, there’s a lot more that goes into being eliminated.

“It also depends on how everyone else is going. At the end of the day, it’s a competition, so it’s not just your dish, if somebody else has stuffed up a little bit more than you have then you could be lucky. So, it’s a bit of luck as well.”

Looking back at her MasterChef journey, Depinder said it was an experience of a lifetime that she feels so fortunate to have been a part of.

“It’s hard to describe in words because I enjoyed every single moment. I was really glad I got to go to the NT and do the VIC road trip, because they were like massive bucket list items for me. But overall, it was one of the best experiences of my life, after my marriage day, of course,” she laughed.

The MasterChef journey helped her grow not only in the kitchen, but also with her own self confidence.

“I am a very harsh critic on myself, so I started being nicer to myself. I started realising that I can do a lot more than I thought I could. I think that’s just the nature of the competition, it brought out the best in me and helped to bring out the best that I could have done in terms of both desserts and Indian cuisine.”

For Depinder, one of the best parts of being in the MasterChef kitchen was having the judges as mentors.

“That was like the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve never had anyone so huge taste my food. We took it for granted, having the three of them as mentors, watching over our shoulders, giving us advice, tasting our food. It’s like an experience in itself,” she said.

She admitted that at first, she was terrified to have them trying her food, because it was simple, homecooked dishes. “But lucky for me, they were always so encouraging of our styles of cooking because they just cared about our flavour and the taste of the food.

“Just because it is a homestyle dish, it doesn’t mean you can’t serve it, which I think is amazing – it’s taken the show to a whole new level, and it’s opened up doors for so many other home cooks watching because they’re probably thinking we can do this as well.”

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Now that one chapter has ended, it's only the beginning for Depinder’s culinary career.

“I have been working at Three Blue Ducks with Andy for a couple of months now and it’s amazing. I would love to write a cookbook and I’ve actually started working on what I want to include and what the purpose of the cookbook will be.

“In the near future I would like to open up a niche restaurant where I serve food that has been inspired by home style cooking as well as extremely authentic Indian regional dishes, similar to what I created on the show, but with my own twist.”

Follow Depinder on Instagram: @depinder_

Watch the new season of MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on 10 or watch on demand on 10 play