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Township Resident Competes On TV’s ‘MasterChef’

Township resident Manjula Sarkar works on a dish during taping of the FOX TV program, MasterChef. Photo: Greg Gayne / FOX.

A township resident who said she developed a love for cooking watching her mother and grandmother is ready to impress three of the world’s most discerning chefs on the upcoming season of MasterChef.

Manjula Sarkar, a human relations manager for a township-based business, is one of 36 home chefs from around the world picked to compete in the FOX-TV reality show, now entering its 10th season.

Judging the chefs will be Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Aaron Sanchez.

Sarkar and the 35 other initial contestants battle for 20 positions – and the coveted “white aprons” – during the show’s two opening episodes, airing at 8 p.m. on May 29 and June 5.

Sarkar, a native of Calcutta, India, said she learned to cook by watching her mother and grandmother “in the kitchen and saw how they aced every dish they made. The different techniques, the different spices, the art of their cooking is what has driven me so far.”

In Calcutta, she said, “food is the most integral part of our life. Being a foodie myself, I have always appreciated food and different cuisines around the world. I think the best way to know one’s culture is through food.”

Sarkar said her journey to MasterChef began last August.

“The audition for the MasterChef had tens of thousands of applicants all over the country,” she said. “I was called to New York City for my auditions where I had to showcase my culinary skills and prepare a signature dish for the judges, followed by zillion rounds of interviews with the casting producers, directors of the show and a few executives from the production.”

“The experience was surreal, it was like landing on a gold mine,” she said.

Sarkar said she’s also a self-taught baker and makes decorative cookies for birthday parties and social occasions.

She said her future will include cooking and exploring new cuisines.

“My dream is traveling around the world, exploring the nooks and corners to learn food, to learn different cuisines, different techniques, different modes of plating and most importantly the stories behind every food,” she said. “I don’t know how things are going to be from this juncture but I do know that I would continue to follow my dreams.”

Throughout the competition, contestants will be given a number of challenges to meet, including cooking for a 10th anniversary pool party, catering a former MasterChef winner’s wedding reception, creating dishes for NASCAR drivers at the Irwindale Speedway, and traveling to the U.K. to run a dinner service at one of Ramsay’s restaurants.

The winner will receive a $250,000 grand prize and the opportunity to work in the judge’s restaurants.

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