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A Conversation With MasterChef Jeet Kaur Sawant

I’m a huge fan of MasterChef US, I’ve been watching it since the first season! I watch all MasterChef’s actually – Australia, India etc. I also have a food blog on Instagram @fortheloveofspice that I share my culinary journey of blending cultures via recipes. My husband really was the one who constantly pushed me to apply, and has truly been my greatest supporter, cheerleader, and critic on this journey. This couldn’t happen without him!
MasterChef Jeet Kaur Sawant

MasterChef US is Living a Dream

Being on MasterChef US is like living a dream. It was truly wild to be standing in front of and breathing the same air as Chef Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, and Joe Bastianich. And to be able to cook for them and have them taste my food – it was surreal.
I still can’t sometimes believe this did happen in real life. I’ve met some fantastic people via this experience, and found a confidence and validation in my cooking that I think is probably the best thing that I could’ve received. I’m truly honored by this production and the judges and I can’t wait to see you all in the MasterChef kitchen!
When did you start your journey as a Chef?
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but grew up in a very foodie Sikh home in New Delhi India. Growing up, I was surrounded by all north Indian flavors and deliciousness, and visiting my family in the US every year opened my palette to new flavors. I think all of this has had a huge influence on how I view recipes or foods from cultures around the world.
MasterChef Jeet Kaur Sawant
MasterChef Jeet Kaur Sawant with top Judges
Growing up in a north Indian home, I learned the basics like chai, roti etc. early on but it was when I came back to the US to pursue my undergrad degree at Purdue University in Indiana, one fine day I felt like I couldn’t eat anything available to me anymore and just needed some dal. Didn’t know how to make dal, so called my mom at 4.30am her time in India, crying, asking her to walk me through the recipe. Got all the ingredients, made the dal, and relished every bite of it.
It was a mediocre dal at best, but it was the most satisfying meal my soul had had in days. So, from there I started cooking other foods from back home for my college friends, it was mostly foods I grew up with and was familiar with. It wasn’t until I met my now husband, Ojas Sawant that I started exploring different cuisines and recipes.
Ojas is a Maharashtrian who grew up in Kuwait so a lot of Middle Eastern flavors are what he used to crave. Now, Middle Eastern food is a part of our weekly menu rotation at home 🙂 Meeting him was the unlock for me for the cuisines of the rest of the world and I found a new excitement in experimenting with flavors I already know and love, and fusing the best of what other cuisines have to offer to create dishes that are truly global, with our collective best showing up on the plate.
Explore how food is a reflection of cultural heritage and identity, and how it is used to maintain cultural traditions and practices.
 I think every house tells a story of their cultural heritage, traditions, and identity through their food. Recipes passed down from generations, the distinct taste that each cook in the house brings to the same recipe and ingredients they all have, the spice cabinet in each home, no matter where we are in the world, this magic that food brings with it, is universal. You can experience every home’s unique flavor and their musical note if you will, in the food they prepare for you or for their family, and it’s the most amazing thing to me.
Aroma is one of the most important aspects of food and invites a fascinating intellectual question: How does aroma influence our perception and enjoyment of food?
It is said that all your senses are engaged when you’re eating food, and aroma is probably one of the first things that you connect with when you’re getting ready to eat. I think aroma helps create this intrigue in our brains that I think is very important in pursuit of delicious food. We hear things like, “man, that smell is making me hungry!” I think if something didn’t smell appetizing, we wouldn’t be particularly excited to eat it!
Your Favorite cuisine which you wanted to try and always wanted to have?
I grew up in new Delhi, so truthfully, in my humble opinion, Delhi food is the best! With influences from all over the world, Delhi is the perfect melting pot with the best of everything your foodie he
art desires. However, my personal most favorite cuisine has got to be Indo-Chinese.
I enjoy it even more than Indian or Chinese cuisines on their own, because I think it takes the best things from both of them and has created something brilliant with this combination. My love of biryani is an exception to this statement – that will forever be my most favorite dish in the world.
Food and culture are deeply interconnected, prompting an essential intellectual question: What role does cuisine play in shaping and expressing cultural identity?
Having lived away from my family for so many years, your food becomes like a box of memories – when you cook and eat it, it’s like you’ve opened the box and are living through those cherished moments again with your loved ones.

You’re much closer to your culture with your food I feel. It instills a sense of pride, being able to share your world with others via food, to learn from others and teach something back, truly beautiful. I think food and how memorable it can be is a great way for people to come together with, because the memories around food you never forget! Theirs always great food at the best memories, and to be able to have the opportunity to create that is a massive honor. It can become this meditative, creative outlet with a sense of giving back to the world in some way.

News Shot 24
Author: News Shot 24

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