MasterChef’s Depinder Chhibber Reveals Which Contestant She Had a “Love-Hate” Relationship With

Depinder Chhibber
Network Ten

Depinder Chhibber was a true standout on MasterChef Australia 2021, plating up dish after dish of spectacularly mouthwatering food inspired by her family and her memories of her childhood in India.

In a shock twist to the season, Chhibber was eliminated from the competition after her Italian style tomato salad with a tomato gazpacho and warrigal greens damper didn’t quite hero the Indigenous ingredients enough.

Chatting to POPSUGAR Australia after her exit, Chhibber said that while cooking at Simpsons Gap in the Northern Territory was one of the most amazing experiences of her life, it was also rife with difficulties.

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, but battling with the elements was a whole other challenge,” she said. “There was wind, there was sand blowing into our eyes, we were trying to make sure that the food stayed away from the sand and then there was the heat as well!”

In addition to that, the 29-year-old pharmacist also said it was a deeply emotional experience being on Country and being so warmly welcomed by the Indigenous community.

‘Our emotions were so heightened yesterday, and it was such an emotional episode, even from the very start because the beautiful welcoming ceremony by the local Indigenous women,” Chhibber said. “They welcomed us with so much love, and they said, ‘This is to protect you and the land will protect you, and it will help you heal.’

“That was just such a wonderful thing to say, especially going into a challenge. When I got eliminated I was so emotional because I felt so connected to the place that I was in, and I was so present. So it was an absolutely wonderful experience.”

Another wonderful experience was the opportunity to collaborate with her fellow contestants during team challenges, with Chhibber forming a special bond with one aspiring cook in particular.

“The team challenge where I was paired up with Justin, that was so much fun. We share a really funny relationship as well, like a love-hate, brotherly/sisterly relationship that’s full of banter,” she revealed.

“So when we were in the team together we ended up doing really well together even though we have such different personalities — he’s so laid back and I’m so full-on. It was just one of the funniest and one of the best experiences I’ve had in a team.”

Since leaving the competition, Chhibber has been working on compiling her own recipes for a cookbook, has plans to open a small restaurant that celebrates regional Indian food and has also been gaining experience with MasterChef judge Andy Allen at his restaurant.

“I taking a break from work in my day job [as a pharmacist] at the moment, and I’m currently doing some work with Andy at Three Blue Ducks and getting some experience to see where it takes me with food,” she revealed. “It’s such a different style, but at the same time it so rustic and I love that style of food. So I’m just learning and brushing up on my professional kitchen skills, because I had no idea what it’s like to be in a professional kitchen.”

When it comes to her cookbook, Chhibber says that she hopes to inspire home cooks to feel comfortable when attempting Indian recipes.

“I want to get it out there as soon as possible,” she said. “Because I want people to experience simple Indian homestyle cuisine — stuff that they can make at home, in a very simple way. It’s nothing too complicated, the ingredients aren’t going to be specialty ingredients, they’ll be things that you can find locally. I don’t want people to feel intimidated by Indian cuisine, I want it to be more accessible and mainstream than it is right now.”

The aspiring cookbook author is also navigating the social media world now that she boasts almost 68,000 followers on Instagram.

“I’ll be filming lots of videos as well, because I feel like I have a lot of fans and supporters that have been through this journey with me,” she said. “And this is my way of kind of giving back to them as well.”

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