Nepal | January 16, 2021

A culinary super star


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It is good to hear that a Nepali chef, Santosh Shah, is promoting traditional Nepali cuisine in the United Kingdom through the Master Chef TV show on BBC. When our cuisine gets discovered in the international market, it will help our country’s tourism sector and the people in so many ways. I have many Australian friends who usually travel to Italy, France and Spain simply to discover the European food tradition and the time-honoured culinary heritage.

This undated image shows chef Santosh Shah cooking a dish. Photo courtesy:

It may not be an exaggeration to say that in the western world the master chefs are no less popular than the movie stars because the phenomenal dish that they make is delectably as thrilling as a movie with a cliffhanger.

Anyone should be thrilled to see their food in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Therefore, food is unquestionably a fountain of gastronomic delight.

I am greatly fascinated by the stories of Shah about how he became a chef when he had no knowledge about becoming one in the first place.

Like many Nepalis, he had gone to India to look for a job in the restaurants to make a living.

His dish washing work turned out to be a closely guarded formula in earning him international fame in a short span of time.

To me, Santosh is an inspiration for many who must slave over a hot stove. In our country, we have the tendency to look down upon menial jobs such as dish washing. We do not give much importance to the hospitality sector.

We tend to think that working in restaurants is only for poor people. We have never been able to think outside the box that work in a restaurant can turn someone into a global celebrity.

I have been cooking in a restaurant since I jetted off to Australia.

Initially, I was taken aback when I had to work in the kitchen. I did not have any prior experience about preparing food. I was reluctant to work in the kitchen in my early days in Melbourne. But I started working there to pay my bills and university expenses.

Over the past few years, my commitment to culinary excellence has encouraged me to compile a food dictionary. The food dictionary is something that I really take pride in. We never know our destination and dreams. We are guided by time and the situation.

I had never thought about publishing a food dictionary.

However, after having worked for years in restaurants, I have learnt so much about food. I am really optimistic about the hospitality industry that it will bring economic prosperity to the nation.

It would be great if Shah were to run culinary schools to promote Nepali cuisine throughout the world.


A version of this article appears in print on December 04, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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