Find out about MasterChef Pankaj Bhadouria and her journey from being a teacher to becoming the first MasterChef of India as well as her life since.
With over 1 million followers on Instagram, Pankaj Bhadouria has kept herself in the hearts and minds of the public well after she became the first MasterChef out of India. She has shown an indelible entrepreneurial spirit in everything she touches, whether that be as an author, restauranter, public speaker, television host or food traveler. With all of these accomplishments, Bhadouria is adamant that she is a mother, first and foremost. So how did one of India’s most beloved and recognizable chefs get to where she is? Her story might surprise you.
Pankaj Bhadouria was born in New Delhi in 1971 into a climate that would not have supported being a professional chef as a viable career option for a female. She lost her father at the young age of 13 and it was a heavy blow to the family. It is possible that this early example to her of the fragility of life may have planted the seeds for her to ultimately find the courage to follow her dreams later.
After the passing of her father, her mother did not have the kind of formal education that would grant her the kind of job position that she desired. This reality, as well as her mother always stressing the importance of being educated, had a great influence on Bhadouria pursuing higher education.
She first attended IHS Puma where she embarked on a one-year training course in food preservation and canning technology. From here, she took her education further by getting her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English. During the time of her studies, she, unfortunately, lost her dear and influential mother at the age of 22.
Bhadouria continued her education even beyond finishing her Master’s. She received a Bachelor’s in education from Lucknow University and began a teaching career. Her wealth of qualifications helped her rise through the teaching ranks and she succeeded as an educator for 16 years. A television advertisement then changed the course of her life.
Pankaj Bhadouria auditioned for MasterChef and managed to make it through round after round. Then, though, came a dilemma. As part of MasterChef, she would have to attend a three-month boot camp that would take her away from her home, her two children and her teaching position. Despite independently finding someone well-qualified to fill her position during her absence, when presenting her plan to her superiors at the school, she was denied. Furthermore, she was told outright that she was not to participate in the competition and that her desire to do so was not out of a love of food but for the excitement of glamour. She was deeply hurt by this, as her feelings were that, as a dedicated mother of two, she could hardly be swayed by glamour.
The pull of what her life could be and the potential for deep regret, if she did not try, was too strong. Bhadouria decided to risk it all and go to the boot camp. She quit her position and went on to see how far she could get in the competition.
Her years as a teacher prepared her well for the competition. As an educator, she was well accustomed to planning for the day, working within a stipulated time, meeting deadlines under stress and outperforming colleagues. Also, the multitasking that comes as part of living as a woman and as a dedicated mother offered further applicable skills. The life and career experiences she already had by the age of 38 proved to be assets in the competition and helped propel her to complete victory.
Chef Pankaj became the first Masterchef India Winner. Her win was a thrilling day for all women of India.
The life of chef Pankaj Bhadouria after her inspirational win is a stunning example of how to take one success and take the opportunities that come from it even further. Shortly after becoming known worldwide as Masterchef Pankaj Bhadouria, she launched her own cooking show on the Star Plus network. This show was met with widespread acclaim and led to her hosting several other cooking shows over the years. She even participated in later seasons of MasterChef, where she put contestants through a pressure test.
Pankaj Bhadouria’s career has since taken her in many exciting directions. This includes successful turns as a restauranteur, brand ambassador, author of several cookbooks, tech entrepreneur and so much more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Masterchef Pankaj Bhadouria
She began her career at 38 after leaving her teaching career of 16 years.