Sashi Cheliah won MasterChef in 2018 with his methodical approach, and delicious, spice-laden Indian and Malaysian food. Now, Sashi will share his flavoursome recipes in his hometown of Adelaide with the launch of GAJA by Sashi.
The Singapore-born was the eldest of seven children – Sashi’s passion for food came early in life by watching his aunties and mother cooking in their cafe – even though a boy in the kitchen wasn’t encouraged in his culture.
“Whenever they cooked, I was always in the kitchen watching,” says Sashi Cheliah.
“Food is a huge part of my culture and there’s always plenty of food to prepare at every cultural festival or celebration. I can still remember being in the kitchen at ten-years-old, watching my mother cook and smelling the spicy aromas.”
Before starting his career in the food business, Sashi worked for 12 years in the Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) unit of the Singapore Police Force, where he trained in tactics, rescue operations, counter terrorism, kidnappings and high-profile protection in the riot police.
In 2012 Sashi moved to Adelaide and worked as a prison guard, which gave him more time to cook for his family. It was then he started following his cooking dreams, signing up to MasterChef on a whim after seeing a Facebook post.
“I don’t believe age should be a barrier to achieving your dreams, as it wasn’t for me!” says Sashi Cheliah.
In the finale of Sashi’s MasterChef victory episode, he received a record score of 93 out of a possible 100. Since finishing MasterChef, Sashi started a pop-up GAJA by Sashi restaurant in Melbourne, which has paved the way for a permanent restaurant space in Adelaide by the same name.
The menu at the Pirie Street restaurant has been created alongside Head Chef Miles Davis, previously from Hotel Longtime, and features a mix of Asian inspired dishes, sharing plates and Asian inspired cocktails. All of the dishes have been curated exclusively for GAJA by Sashi, with a little touch of MasterChef class. The menu features Sashi’s “Cari Vit” or Lychee Duck Curry – which was an award-winning dish for Sashi on MasterChef.
The fit-out was completed by Adelaide based interior design company Malbarosa & Co., and is based on Colonial Singapore, with a touch of modern style.
At the heart of the restaurant is a large mural of an elephant, which is the meaning of ‘Gaja’, and incorporates a reference to all the country’s that will feature on Sashi’s menu – China, India and Malaysia.
GAJA by Sashi opens to the public on Monday 11 November at 4/86 Pirie Street, Adelaide. GAJA by Sashi will be open for lunch and dinner, Monday – Saturday and bookings can now be made here.