MasterChef star Sashi Cheliah has been busier than most people of late. Not only did the former show winner have a starring run in the current season of MasterChef Australia Fans vs Faves, he is also spreading the word about his own meal kit brand and setting up a new restaurant in Chennai.
The effervescent former prison guard’s life has done a complete 360 since winning MasterChef back in 2018. Apart from his two Adelaide restaurants, Gaja by Sashi, and Gaja Express, for the last two years Sashi has been overseeing the success of his own brand – Sashi’s Secret.
Sashi will be exhibiting the range, which features pastes and coconut milk for dishes such as beef rendang and curry laksa from Malaysia and Singapore where Sashi grew up, at the upcoming 2022 Naturally Good Expo at Sydney’s ICC from June 6-7. “Four of the kit varieties are already stocked in Woolworths, but we will also be pitching to distributors at the expo to try and get the kit into additional retailers,” explains Sashi. “It fits in well into the natural health space as it doesn’t have preservatives and uses very authentic ingredients.”
Showcasing the flavours of his Indian Singaporean heritage and the Malay region has always been a passion of Sashi’s. The 42-year-old’s next big venture will be opening a new 94 -eat fine dining restaurant in Chennai in July called The Pandan Club.
“It’s Peranakan food or Nyonya cuisine which comes from the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia. It’s a cuisine that’s not that well known in India so I think it will generate interest with its aromats, but it’s still a risk none-the-less,” he says.
“It’s been challenging to not be over there in India during COVID restrictions, and organising everything remotely, but thankfully I have a good team in Chennai. I plan to travel there every two to three months initially, and then every six months.”
Sashi is especially excited about presenting a fine dining concept to diners in the area. “In India casual eating and street food is so accessible, so presenting refined food is something different. We really wanted customers to experience something special.”
Apart from that, Sashi also has a cookbook coming out in August featuring his favourite Singapore street food dishes and hopes to introduce Sashi’s Secret to more key overseas markets including India and Southeast Asia.