Culinary sensation Kishwar Chowdhury is the first Bangladeshi-Australian to reach the grand finale of MasterChef Australia. She secured the third place in the last episode of Season 13. Kishwar faught for the title of MasterChef Australia against Justin Narayan and Pete Campbell. The final challenge of the show was set by Peter Gilmore, one of Australia’s most celebrated and awarded chefs. The finalists made a savoury dish of shaved squid, shiitake custard, koji butter and pinstriped peanuts. For dessert, they replicated Gilmore’s ‘golden crackle’ from Bennelong, his restaurant at the Sydney Opera House. After the final challenge, Justin was the frontrunner with 125 points to Pete’s 124 and Kishwar’s 114. While Justin walks away with $250,000, Pete is awarded with $ 30,000, and Kishwar receives $ 20,000.
Kishwar impressed one and all week after week throughout the competition with a multitude of recipes inspired by her Bangladeshi descent. She cooked traditional Bangladeshi dishes like ‘begun bhorta’, ‘jau bhaat’, ‘lau chingri’, goat ‘rezala’ and Rangamati barramundi curry in the MasterChef kitchen. As her love letter to Bangladesh, she served a fine dining version of ‘mishti paan’ to the judges in the semi final challenge.
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As her finale feast, Kishwar presented arguably the most iconic Bangladeshi food – ‘panta bhaat’, which the show referred to as ‘smoked rice water’, with ‘aloo bhorta’, sardines and a side of salsa. “This is the type of food that you wouldn’t see in a restaurant anywhere,” said Kishwar to the judges while presenting the dish. “So, it feels scary, but it also feels extremely rewarding to do this as my finale dish.”
Kishwar was born in Melbourne to Laila and Kamrul Chowdhury, who are the pillars of building a Bengali community in Victoria, Australia. Her father is from Bangladesh, and was a freedom fighter. He moved to Australia about 50 years ago as a student, and met her mother, who is from Kolkata.
Kishwar has a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Monash University, and a postgraduate degree in graphic design from the University of the Arts in London. She moved to Dhaka for five years for work. She returned to Melbourne in 2015, but travelled to Dhaka four to five times a year, before the pandemic hit.
Having experienced different cuisines from different continents, she grew her knowledge of mixing spices, and understanding ingredients from across the globe. Kishwar also mentioned that previous MasterChef contestants, Adam Liaw and Poh Ling Yeow, have inspired her.
With the support of her husband and two children, she competed in the grand finale of the renowned cooking show. She is now a step closer to her dream of writing a cookbook on long-forgotten Bangladeshi flavours and recipes, as a legacy for her kids.