‘If you have passion for something, you will eventually shine.’ It was difficult to miss the conviction in Reality TV show, Masterchef India Season 5 finalist Dinesh Patel’s voice as he spoke to a well rounded gathering of people who were there to attend his masterclass in Radisson Blu, Agra.
It was a winner’s journey through and through as Patel shared his struggles and successes with the audience, but only after he had conducted two interactive recipe sessions featuring a starter and a dessert. He played heavily on fusion and chose Agra-special delicacies to highlight his recipes. For starter, he put together Agra Petha Savoury Salad which was an interesting play between sweet of Meetha Petha from Agra and savouries like a paneer pakoda crumbled and tossed for a vegetarian version.
For dessert, he introduced the participants to an equally innovative Shahi Tukra Summer Pudding. “Summer pudding is a favourite summer dessert in England that is made with cream and fresh berries. What I have done is made mousse out of the Rabri to go with Shahi Tukra and paired it with strawberry and traditional fried bread. In short, a mix of elements, texture, sweetness and contrast, that’s the twist in the dish.”
That the sessions were a hit could be judged by the noises of approval coming from his guests along with prodding for suggestions to make his recipes calorie controlled.
“Sin is allowed when it comes to Indian desserts. How can you have an Indian mithai, that is not meetha?” he was overheard telling a group who wanted to find out if there could be an alternative to the sugar syrup being used in the Shahi Tukda inspired Summer Pudding that he put up for dessert. The event was hosted by Alka Ladhani, Executive Director and Head of Food and Beverage, Radisson Blu, Agra, who actively engaged Patel in a heart to heart talk at the end of the session.
For those who have been following Patel’s journey on TV would remember him as a bright contestant keen to prove his mettle in main kitchen recipes. “Having a successful Patisserie business to run and given my expertise there, desserts came easily. The challenge was to prove that I could be as good in the other aspects of the meals, primarily the main course,” he confided. Something that he eventally did and with aplomb.
A lawyer by profession, who chose kitchen over courtroom, Dinesh’s journey has been very inspiring. From being a mehndi artist at the weddings at the age of 11 to his experiments with baking, and eventually turning that into a business venture at the age of 14, Patel lived his passion while continuing to excel in academics.
“I come from a modest and conservative Gujarati family with working parents. Consequently, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who has been a big influencing factor in my cooking,” he said.
“Since my mother used to often come late, I started experimenting with cooking. It was something I liked to do on the side. But eventually, when I started gifting cakes and biscuits, people started asking if I would take orders. Initially, I was scared because this was not what I wanted to do, but I decided to give it a go. At 14, I started my own business,” he shared.
At the same time, Patel continued with his studies and was a straight ‘A’ student through his academic journey that took him to England. “My business never hindered my academics, nor my academics my business,” he said with a hint of pride.
But it was after he had graduated and started practicing that he realised that he enjoyed more being in the kitchen that working on legal cases. It was then he decided to pursue his passion and start a Patisserie business in England. “Thank God my business sustained well enough to support me at that time!” he laughed.
Open to starting a venture in India, Patel expressed his desire to playing with Asian-fusion cuisine. “The patisserie industry is still very young in India. We are struck with what the west has already experimented with and moved on. So many innovations are happening in the industry right now and I would love to be a part of that. Ideally, I would like to focus on fusion desserts as I do in England and play some more with our traditional mithai ,” said Patel sharing his future plans. We wish him good luck!