Living his food dream

QUEANBEYAN'S new MasterChef Rishi Desai has been having a blast on the new series of the Channel 10 staple as he makes his way closer to achieving his "food dream" of opening his own restaurant.

So far the 35-year-old public servant has survived more than a fortnight on the show, and the elimination of four other contestants.

"It's been really fun, an absolutely fantastic journey. You can go in thinking you know everything but there's still something to learn on the show", he said.

In a chat with The Queanbeyan Age this week about food, family and future ambitions, Mr Desai said one of the most challenging aspects of MasterChef was being away from his wife and his 6-year-old son Sharang while filming the show in Melbourne.

"I'm used to being able to plan in advance, and that's not really something that happens on MasterChef. It's much more day-to-day with the challenges on the show."

One of the best experiences he's had on the show was one of the first, an egg separating race held in the middle of the MCG, a challenge he went on to win. 

 Another was creating the liver lollipops for the first invention test of Kids' Week, saying he wanted to make something he would make for his own son, something kids would be able to enjoy. 

He praised the shows judges - elite Australian chefs and restaurateurs Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, and food critic Matt Preston - as being fantastic and willing to help out any of the contestants they see to be having trouble in a challenge.

He spoke about how cooking is a part of his life, saying: "I'm always in the kitchen, ever since I started. If you couldn't find me in the house I would be in the kitchen. Whenever I get stressed from work, I'm able to just go to the kitchen and cook something, try to figure something out."

Ever since learning to cook when he was five or six, Mr Desai has been keen on experimenting and broadening his experiences with food. 

He says he doesn't like to cook using the same flavour more than once in a week, switching it up between Indian, Chinese, South-East Asian and Italian, which has become a favourite in the household.

Mr Desai said his "food dream" had evolved since he began MasterChef, and after initially wanting to open a restaurant with a modern Indian menu, he's expanded his dream to a restaurant that celebrates the cuisine of many former British colonies.

Flavours from India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, North Africa and the Caribbean would be part of a constantly evolving menu in the fine dining restaurant.

Having been a Queanbeyan resident for the past three years, Rishi said he wants to keep living here for the long term.

"I couldn't think of a better place to live than Queanbeyan. It's got that sense of country life while still being close to Canberra. It's fantastic, I love living in Queanbeyan," he said.

Local man Rishi Desai is cooking up a storm on MasterChef.

Local man Rishi Desai is cooking up a storm on MasterChef.

Local man Rishi Desai is cooking up a storm on MasterChef.

Local man Rishi Desai is cooking up a storm on MasterChef.