People | Made In India, Served In Australia

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Made In India, Served In Australia
Text by Viseshika Sharma and Photograph by Poulomi Dey
Published: Volume 21, Issue 12, December, 2013

Meet Rishi Desai, the Kolhapur boy who captured our MasterChef Australia-obsessed hearts

While we are with the most recent season’s contestant Hrishikesh Desai, he capably juggles telephone interviews and a Facebook chat with fans. He poses cheerfully for Verve’s resident shutterbug, before neatly folding up his apron and putting it away. “My wife ironed it for me so I want to keep it pristine,” Rishi explains. Mitra, his spouse of 12 years, is back home in Canberra with Sharang, their young son. They share chores and he concentrates on the non-Indian fare while she does the desi khana. Leaving English at the office, they speak only Marathi at home, so as to improve Sharang’s fluency in the language, even while being quintessentially Aussie and spending most weekends on the beach.

Life hasn’t been normal since his last day of filming. “I got on the plane to go home and the air hostess recognised me and then some of the passengers did. In Australia you have your 15 minutes of fame, so you ride the wave as long as the show’s on TV and then it slides back to normal,” says the organic chemist who’s hanging onto his day job. Rishi is certainly very recognisable in India, for a few people stop him to say hello. He seems to be enjoying the spotlight, having done five pop-ups at the Burbury Hotel in the Australian capital, and enjoyed the experience, but the family is impatient to have him back home so the happy occasional chef is keen to return.

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