Nikita Pathakji has won MasterChef the Professionals 2022 after 18 gruelling episodes of culinary tasks and challenges set by the series’ judges. Nikita is currently junior sous chef at Kitchen W8 and delighted Marcue Wareing, Anna Haugh and Gregg Wallace with her cooking that often drew inspiration from her travels around Asia.
Speaking about her win, Nikita said she was 'really proud', adding: 'I believe so much in those dishes, so for that to be validated, that feels so good’.
The competition started off with the famous skills tests, where the chefs were tasked with creating classic dishes from scratch with no prompts except for the name of the dish and the ingredients laid out in front of them. Following that, there were rounds which included cooking for some of the country’s top restaurant critics, making menus inspired by specific memories, taking on a street food challenge and even a round that required the competitors to create special food from scraps and leftovers that otherwise would typically be scrapped.
While this year’s series followed a similar format to previous years, there was one major difference with an all-new judge. Chef patron of Myrtle in London, Anna Haugh took over from Monica Galetti. Galetti cited wanting to invest more time in her restaurant, Mere, and spending more time with her family for the reason for her hiatus from the show.
The final of MasterChef: The Professionals always reverts to the most simple format: a three course dinner. Competing again finalist Sagar Massay and Charlie Jeffreys, Nikita's skilful cookery and beautifully presented plates helped them walk away with the coveted trophy.
Praising Nakita's journey, judge Anna Haugh, said: ‘You have changed so much since the beginning of this competition. As you’ve pushed yourself more, you’ve given us more. I’m incredibly proud of you.'
Nakita's winning MasterChef: The Professionals menu
Starter: Cured seabass with a spicy red pepper puree, aubergine puree and aubergine crisps.
Main: Her take on a traditional Northern Thai noodle dish, Khao Soi made with black cardamom and turmeric, crispy chicken thighs, herby chicken tortellini and crispy chicken skin.
Dessert: A honey and cardamom custard tart with honey poached apricots, apricot sorbet and a honey tuile.
Where does Nakita Pathakji work?
She is currently junior sous chef at Kitchen W8, which describes itself as 'a genuinely relaxed and friendly Michelin star neighbourhood restaurant'. While she cites her parents as the first people to teach her cookery, her CV boasts certification from Westminster Kingsway College as well as time spent in the kitchens of the Lanesborough Hotel London, Chelsea's Claude Bosi at Bibendum, and Core By Clare Smyth.
Who were the MasterChef: The Professionals 2022 finalists?
Nakita Pathakji competed against 23-year-old senior sous chef from the Marine & Lawn hotel in Troon, Sagar Massay and 24-year-old Senior Chef De Partie from Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Charlie Jeffreys. This year's final was remarkable in its celebration of young talent, with all three finalists in their twenties.
With such a high calibre of chefs coming through the ranks, judge Anna Haugh noted that 'it’s reassuring to think they’re the future.’
What do the MasterChef: The Professionals winners win?
While many people assume winners of MasterChef: The Professionals winners walk away with cash, a lucrative contract or a glitzy prize, the trophy is the only physical award they receive. They will of course often go on to secure spots in some of the country’s top kitchens, with previous winners opening their own restaurants, bakeries and private cheffing companies.
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