Throughout the competition, Kishwar struggled with what she perceived as her identity as a “home cook”. Now, standing at the grand finale, Kishwar finally feels like she’s come full circle on a life-changing journey she never could have imagined.
From the semi-final challenge where the contestants were tasked with designing courses to showcase their culinary identity, to her perfect-scoring finale dish in round two, Kishwar told 10 play how different the last cooks in the competition felt.
“It was unapologetically, very boldly showing who I am. Using Australian natives, using Bengali heritage techniques in my cooking, bringing my two worlds together and putting myself on a plate.”
“The last few dishes I put up in MasterChef I’m extremely proud of and it’s been received that way as well,” she added.
In the last few days, videos of Kishwar’s dishes have racked up millions of views, with support flooding from across the world. But it was her time in the MasterChef kitchen that really allowed her to shake off the shackles of what it means to be a “home cook”.
“It was my journey in MasterChef that led me to believe yes, this is a grand finale-worthy dish,” she explained.
“Being in MasterChef, researching other chefs, learning through all the chefs and mentors who came into the kitchen, it made me think what do I have in my heritage cuisine, what’s part of my identity that I can relate back to what these industry greats are teaching me?”
With just a few points separating Kishwar, Pete and Justin as they went into the third and final round of the grand finale, Kishwar said she was nervously excited at the prospect of being one of the few people in the world to attempt a Peter Gilmore pressure test.
“It’s actually so surreal and by the time you’re in that space you’ve gone through months of the competition. I felt like going into the pressure test, my journey in MasterChef let me believe that I could do this and get through this.
“I leaned in, trusted the process and the recipe. Pete, Justin and I were mentally prepared for anything at that point,” she added.
Having reached a state of zen over the last few weeks where she was accepting whatever challenge was thrown her way, Kishwar said the grand finale was no different. But getting the opportunity to have her family watch her from the gantry was truly special.
“Having Mum and Dad there… they hadn’t seen me, they didn’t know what I had gone through until they watched the show. In that moment they didn’t know about all the challenges, the huge mental growth I had gone through. I was probably a bit of a different person.
“I went on this huge journey and I had such a better understanding for my food, my family and it really all came together for me at the finale.”
Since the finale, Kishwar revealed that she had been working in the kitchen with Chef Yomoda from Ishizuka.
“I’m still there at the moment and then, at the end of the month, I’ll be releasing my menu with Adam D’Silva at Tonka, so I’ll be in the Tonka kitchen with my Bengali menu.”
In her audition for the judges way back in the very beginning of the season, Kishwar tearfully told the judges how passionate she was about releasing a cookbook celebrating the Bengali dishes that had been handed down to her.
“It’s such an integral part of why I started this journey in the first place,” Kishwar said, “and while I was on MasterChef I felt like what I wanted to pass through that cookbook has changed… I feel like my identity — or my idea of identity — who I am as a cook changed on the show. So I’m bringing all those recipes and hopefully, within the next year or so, I’ll have it all together.
“I have this platform now and now my life starts. Now my hard work begins.”
Follow Kishwar on Instagram @kishwar_chowdhury
Want to relive Kishwar’s journey? Every episode of MasterChef Australia is on demand on 10 play