LAHAN, Dec 19: Nepali chef Santosh Shah finished third on the UK's most prestigious cookery show, Masterchef: The Professionals on BBC One. Santosh captivated both the judges and audience with his show-stopping Nepalese cuisine and inspiring journey.
A native of Siraha district in eastern Nepal, Shah said he always wanted to show Nepali cuisines to the world. "I always wanted to bring Nepalese cuisine to the world stage and now this show has given me the opportunity," said Shah shortly after the finale on Friday.
His family and villagers from Karjanha in the southern plains of Nepal are overwhelmed by his feat. The happiness of his mother Sumaridevi in particular knows no bounds. She was found at her field when this reporter reached Shah’s home this morning. She was incredibly spry despite the fact she has already experienced more than 100 winters. Her grandson Raju Shah confirmed that she is a centenarian.
She had lost her husband when her children were still too young. She faced insurmountable hardships while raising her young children. With her courage and determination, she raised seven children – two daughters and five sons – providing them with motherly affection and teaching them good morale and life skills. That is why Santosh, who is the youngest of his siblings, never fails to appreciate his mother, giving credit to his mother for his success story.
Due to aging, Sumaridevi has hearing issues. Her speech is slurred. However, wrinkles on her face stretch a little bit to show she is overjoyed at her son’s success and popularity. “I’m so much happy to see his fame spreading far and wide,” she sounded emotional. “I’m proud of him.”
Recalling her early days, she said that Santosh did everything for her happiness. “When he was in Ahmadabad of India, he took me on pilgrimage in four dhams [pilgrimage sites].” Her eyes got wet as she praised her son uninterruptedly.
“Aab hamar jeevanke eketa lalsa chhai [I now have only one dream left],” she said, adding that she wants to see him getting married before she dies.
Not only his mother but his villagers are also proud of his success in the UK. They are happy that he introduced the Nepali cuisines representing Madhesh, hills, and mountains to an international platform and help globalize them. “Winning a competition is not everything. The most important is that a Madhesi beta [youth] made it to the international stage and got himself renowned worldwide,” said his neighbor Raju Shah. He guided Nepali recipes close to the victory, although he couldn’t make it to the title.
His childhood friend Pramod Mahato said Santosh is humble despite his professional heights. “A young boy from a rustic village has now become a chef at a renowned hotel in one of the richest countries of the world. However, he is still the same friendly and humble person whom I had played a lot during our childhood years,” he added.