Out but not down after MasterChef

Life in the MasterChef pressure cooker had its moments, but Cordeaux Heights contestant Dalvinder Dhami has endured more stressful times.

She was 21 years old when she left Singapore for an arranged marriage in Australia.

She didn’t know her husband-to-be and was desperately anxious about her new life.

‘‘I was worried what I would do if things didn’t work out,’’ said Mrs Dhami, 35.

‘‘It’s scary leaving all your family back in Singapore and living with a new family, a new husband, but I did it.

‘‘[Husband] Nick was very down-to-earth, easy-going. He loves eating home-cooked food and I learnt [to cook] to impress him. He doesn’t eat out now because nothing else is good enough.’’

The mum-of-three was eliminated from the famed televised cooking contest in an episode filmed about six weeks ago, which aired on Monday night.

She had become a fan favourite with her fusion of spicy Singaporean cuisine and the milder, creamy fare of North India, and her curry was declared ‘‘best ever’’ by the spice-shy judge George Calombaris.

A lacklustre ‘‘green olive gel’’ and lack of seasoning caused her elimination. ‘‘I guess I didn’t boil it enough and was rushing for time and just lost the plot a little bit,’’ Mrs Dhami said.

She learnt her first recipes as a newlywed, when she would rack up large phone bills calling her mother in Singapore.

‘‘It was really fun learning to cook over the phone because I’ve got the phone in one hand and I’m stirring with the other. My mum’s saying ‘just put a little bit of this and a little bit of that’.’’

Mrs Dhami works part-time for the Department of Human Services and helps out in the family’s Eagle Boys Pizza franchise in Dapto.

She hopes to one day open a home-style restaurant in the Kiama area, but in the meantime, she will sell fresh-cooked dishes at the Shellharbour Markets, next on June 24.

She has cooked at two previous markets, but is expecting business to pick up post MasterChef.

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