Born in Kashmir in September 1981 to mom Santosh and dad Kuldeep, he grew up in a close-knit Kashmiri Pandit family. Like any ancient culture, food was central to everything he knew. With a large family of close uncles and cousins, mealtimes were big affairs. The family would sit down together on huge carpets, feasting, and laughing around dishes, which often included lamb, lentils, fish, and vegetables.
Due to the militancy in Kashmir and at the age of eight, he and his family were forced to move to South India. At his new home in Bangalore, the going was tough, and his parents had to work very hard to rebuild their lives. The family did not have a fridge, and the food would often spoil as it was left unheated. Santosh, his mom, taught him how to reheat food and cook basic foods like Dal, Rice, and Tea. This was Sandeep's first school of cooking, and soon the kitchen was his happy place.At MasterChef Australia 2019 - The Spice Angel
Sandeep represented the Indian food traditions and dishes, like none before him. Sandeep received rave reviews from legendary chefs like Rick Stein and was the first contestant in MasterChef Australia history to win a Perfect 30 score with an Immunity pin. His Lobster Masala is considered one of the best dishes in the MasterChef Australia's history, and he was given the title of the best Indian cook in the 11 seasons of MasterChef Australia.
"You're the best Indian cook that has come into the show in the last 11 seasons. You came in as a student, but you're leaving as a teacher"
"If there was ever a habit of Sandeep that stands out, it’d be his love for food and an equal love for feeding people. Bangalore has shaped his love for food as no other city did, and the reason for that is that Bangalore has always been a melting pot. The pub city of India is also the Silicon Valley of India, and both these aspects make it a food lovers paradise.
Sandeep's personality is similar to that of Bangalore, rooted in tradition but very modern. The pure East meets West city, multilingual with Beer at the center of everything."
A Kashmiri Pandit by birth, a passionate Indian cook by choice, and an IT Project Manager by Profession, an Indian by Heart and an Aussie since December 2016. Sandeep reckons the previous sentence would be a sufficient one-liner about himself.
Life was a breeze up to 1989 until the storms of militancy in Kashmir blew Sandeep's family out of Kashmir. His grandfather passed away in the shock, His uncle’s wedding seemed anything but fun and they were on their way out of Kashmir, in a Truck, over the mountain passes of the Pir Panjal. When the world seemed bleak, Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT, as they call it), his mom’s employer, gave them shelter and a decent job to his mom at Bangalore. Thus, his large family of Grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins, his sister, and himself were forced to be apart. This was the most painful part of Sandeep's childhood, and yes, it still pains.
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