Exclusive MasterChef Tamil Judges: Vijay Sethupathi is a big time foodie & prefers home cooked Indian meals

MasterChef Tamil hosted by Vijay Sethupathi is currently the talk of the town reality show and boasts of three esteemed judges Chef Aarthi Sampath, Koushik Shankar and Harish Rao. From Vijay Sethupathi hosting to Tamil cuisines, the judges opened up about all, read ahead.

Priyanka Goud
Written by Priyanka Goud , Journalist
Updated on Sep 02, 2021 | 08:12 PM IST | 299.6K
Exclusive MasterChef Tamil Judges
Exclusive MasterChef Tamil Judges: Vijay Sethupathi is a big time foodie & prefers home cooked Indian meals

One of the highly anticipated reality shows MasterChef Tamil is currently airing on Sun TV from August 7. The Tamil version of the world's popular culinary show is being hosted by Makkal Selvan Vijay Sethupathi. The show boasts of three esteemed judges who have years of experience in the culinary industry. Chef Aarthi Sampath has managed the reputable Rainbow Room at the Rockefeller Plaza, along with  Chef Vikas Khanna on the “Billionaire's Club Dinner”,  hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Chef Harish Rao has 22 years of experience being a head chef in renowned hotels like ITC Grand Chola, Top Toque, Sheraton Park, Leela Kempinski, and much more. Chef Koushik Shankar is popularly known for his fusion cuisine and has worked with over 40 F&B brands spread across the country. 

We at Pinkvilla, have exclusively interacted with the three judges to let you know more about the cooking reality show and here are a few excerpts from the interview:

What is the one thing that each one of you will be most specific about while tasting the dishes?

Chef Koushik: MasterChef Tamil as a title holds a lot of reputation, so the perfect dish is a combination of the thought process and execution. The dish has to be presented on time. It has to be perfect in terms of taste, presentation, and technique. Even naming the dish is as crucial as making it. Basically, it has to be perfect in every aspect.

Chef Harish: I second with chef Koushik. We always bear in mind that these contestants are not professionals. They are home cooks who want to become chefs. However, personally, I feel that it comes down to the taste for me at the end of the day.


Chef Aarthi: I agree with both the chefs. Any good food requires a perfect combination, for instance, the dish should look visually appealing since the visual appeal enhances the taste. If there are proteins in the dish, they should be cooked properly, the sauce should be smooth and have the right consistency. It all again boils down to taste. But it can’t just taste amazing and not look great.

How is it having Vijay Sethupathi as the host on the show?How is he like off-screen, does he give any suggestions about judgment?

Chef Koushik: He is awesome! All three of us are huge fans. Until the show, I was a fan of Vijay Sethupathi, the actor, but after meeting him in person, I am a fan of how he is as a person. He genuinely loves everyone around him. I was very nervous when I came on board. I told him
the same. He just gave me a big hug and said I’d do great. He truly is the Makkal Selvan. Talking about judgments, he tastes every food that is presented, he appreciates what he liked in the dish before giving polite feedback. He always looks forward to encouraging the home-cooks.


Chef Harish: He is an amazing person. The first time we were on sets checking the lights, camera angles, and placements. He requested us to meet him. I had my inhibitions since he was a great star but all of it disappeared the moment we met him. He is like any of us with no star attitude. The best part was, he introduced himself to us like we didn’t know him. He is very grounded and it gets easy for us when we have him around for the shoot. He is energetic and helps us keep calm when we get nervous. He is a sweetheart to everyone around, right from the cameraman to the home-cooks.

Chef Aarthi. I feel the same. I have so much love and respect for him as a person. Just the way he explains things holds so much enthusiasm and enjoys every moment he is a part of. He is a curious child in my opinion, especially when it comes to cooking. He’d ask if he doesn’t know something. Additionally, he is sensitive to his surrounding. If someone is unwell he will immediately know, and he does not limit himself by only asking, he will arrange for the
medicines. He does anything in his power to make everyone feel good. He is exceptional.


Is Vijay Sethupathi a foodie, and which is his favourite cuisine?

All three judges commented that Vijay Sethupathi is a foodie. He will try any food that comes his way and is also intrigued about how a particular dish has been made. He is not fussy with his food but loves to try diverse cuisines. Nevertheless, he prefers Indian cuisines to all other cuisines and is content with a simple home-cooked meal.

After two decades of this celebrated TV franchise in English, MasterChef Tamil is releasing and you three are the judges of the first-ever season. How does that feel?

Chef Harish: It feels great. I was the last of the judges to be on board for the show and I can only express my gratitude to Mr. Prasad, Mr. Sanjeev, Innovative film Academy and Endemol Shine India for trusting me. I still can’t believe it. MasterChef Tamil is a surreal experience. It feels like destiny.

Chef Aarthi: MasterChef is a huge banner to be associated with first of all. I was having a routine day at work when I initially got an offer to be a guest judge for a pressure test challenge, but when they chose me to be a judge, I was overwhelmed and excited at the same time as the makers of Innovative Film Academy and Endemol shine trusted my abilities as a chef to judge a huge show. Moreover, I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to be connected to my own land. MasterChef Tamil has been great so far and I assure you it will keep getting better in the upcoming episodes. Overall, it has been a learning experience every day and I had no inhibitions before agreeing to be a part of this reputed show.


Chef Koushik: I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time for MasterChef Tamil to happen to me. There are so many chefs out there in terms of talent, and I can only thank Innovative film Academy and the team associated with MasterChef for giving me the opportunity. When I first got a call for the same, I thought it was a prank but the journey since then has been phenomenal. We got to meet 14 amazing home-cooks who are full of possibilities, and Vijay Sethupathi, of course. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Is MasterChef going to be galore of Tamil dishes or can the audience expect to see any other cuisines too?

Chef Aarthi: I believe MasterChef Tamil is unique in its own way because we as Tamizhans take pride in what we serve. However, we don’t shy away from experimenting with food. The show will feature an array of Tamil cuisines, a variety of cuisines from other regions of India and the rest of the world as well. The audience will get to witness the influence of the Tamil culture on western or Asian cuisines. If one has watched the show, there were some phenomenal dishes inspired by diverse cuisines like the Pongal cheesecake, a laksa-inspired dish, an innovative take on the arancini, to name a few.


Chef Koushik: MasterChef Tamil as a show intends to reach beyond boundaries, in terms of cuisine as well. Though Tamil cuisine itself has a galore of different sub-cuisines like
Chettinadu, Kongu Nadu, Tondaimandalam, and many more, the show aims to not limit the myriad of flavours and innovation that the contestants can bring into the kitchen from other cuisines as well. So, audiences can see an assortment of cuisines on the show.

Chef Harish: Definitely. MasterChef Tamil will showcase a profusion of Tamil cuisine, however like the other judges said there are no restrictions on what the home cooks can prepare on the show. We believe that food is food and as long as it tastes great, has an element of surprise and is enticing, the cuisine is secondary. Having said that, yes MasterChef Tamil will literally be a feast to the eyes for the audiences.

Do you feel like you are connected to the contestants in some way as you were once in the same shoes when you won Season 3 of Chopped?

Aarthi Sampath: Yes, I do. Chopped was very challenging. It wasn’t easy to cook a dish in 20 minutes and then be subject to criticism. I truly understand what they go through before presenting their dishes to us, be it the nervousness, the pressure, and the feeling of wanting to do better with every dish. I do feel connected in every way. However, at the end of the day, we have a job to do as judges and hopefully, our comments will help them enhance their culinary art.

ALSO READ: MasterChef Tamil: Host Vijay Sethupathi introduces 14 contestants on the first day

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