Pankaj Bhadouria is an Indian chef who became the first winner of the Indian cooking show MasterChef India Season 1 in 2010.
Pankaj Bhadouria was born on Wednesday, 14 July 1971 (age 51 years; as of 2022) in New Delhi. Her zodiac sign is Cancer.
She did her schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya, New Delhi. She pursued her graduation at Lucknow University. Her educational qualifications involve a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in English literature, and a bachelor’s degree in Education.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Pankaj’s father’s name was Vinod Khanna, and her mother’s name was Priya Khanna. They were both chefs. When she was thirteen years old, her father died, and when she was twenty-two years old, she lost her mother. She has a younger brother.
Husband & Children
Pankaj got married to Charu Samarth on 25 April 1995.
She has two kids, a son, Siddhant Bhadouria, and a daughter, Sonalika Bhadouria who is a social media influencer.
A school teacher
Before choosing her career as a chef, Pankaj worked as a teacher for sixteen years at City Montessori School, Lucknow.
Pankaj started her cooking career in 2010 by appearing on the first Indian cooking show ‘MasterChef India Season 1’ on Star Plus. She became the winner of the show.
In 2012, she started her own culinary academy ‘Pankaj Bhadouria Culinary Academy’ in Lucknow. The academy provides professional and certificate courses.
She also opened the cafes Tramp Tree Cafe, and Cafe by Default in Lucknow.
After winning the Masterchef show, she hosted the TV shows that include Chef Pankaj Ka Zayka on StarPlus, Kifayati Kitchen on Zee Khana Khazana, 3 Course with Pankaj on Zee Khana Khazana, Rasoi se- Pankaj Bhadouria ke Saath on ETV, and Sales Ka Baazigar on ETV.
Pankaj wrote her first cookbook ‘MasterChef India Cookbook’ in 2011. She later wrote other cookbooks that include Barbie- I am a Chef, Chicken From My Kitchen, and The Secret’s in the Spice Mix.
Pankaj has appeared in various commercials for the brand like Knorr, Taaza Tea, Eastern Masala, Samsung Smart Oven, Kent Juicer & Pasta Maker, Sensodyne, Reliance Fresh, Kelloggs, and Tefal.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- In 2011, she promoted the Indian cuisines at Cambridge University in a lecture that she delivered there.
- In 2015, her name was featured in the list of ‘9 People Who Made It Big After Participating In Reality Shows’ by India times.
- In 2016, she won the Chef of the Year Award by Right Choice Award.
- In 2016, she won the Outlook Social Media Kitchen Queen of the Year Award by Outlook Magazine.
- In 2018, she was honoured as ‘First Ladies’ by the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind.
- In 2021, she won the Impact 2021 prize by Dainik Jagran.
- In 2021, she won the Mission Shakti Award from UP Government and Femina.
- She was chosen as the ambassador for the promotion of Olive Oil in India for a campaign called Olive Oil Revolution by the Spanish government.
- Food: Khichdi
- Film: Bollywood- Jab We Met (2007), Devdaas (2002), Barfi (2012), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995); Hollywood- Love Story (1970)
- Song: Firework by Katy Perry
- Holiday destination: New York
- Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- She owns a Ferrari.
- She owns a Volvo S90.
- She owns a BMW.
- Pankaj follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- She likes to travel and dance during her leisure time.
- According to Pankaj, her parents used to organize parties at home and cook food for them, which led to her interest in cooking.
- Pankaj had to leave her job as a teacher to participate in the show MasterChef India. In an interview, she shared about this and said,
I started my career as a school teacher teaching English to ISC classes. The call for the MasterChef audition on television was the turning point in my life; this prompted me to go for it and later to quit my job of 16 years.”
- In an interview, she talked about her journey in the show MasterChef and said,
MasterChef was a turning point in my life. My first selection to the top 12 was a challenging one that awakened the dormant competitive spirit in me! From there on, there was no looking back. I got into the “danger zone” only once throughout the journey, but sailed through it. I was more determined to win and with God’s grace, I did.”
- In 2012, she participated in an event named ‘Be a Hero,’ in which she made the largest sandwich in New Delhi.
- In 2015, two Nepali children Bahadur, and Krishna alleged that Pankaj’s husband, Charu had beaten and threatened them.
- Pankaj has spoken on various platforms that include TEDx seminar IIT-BHU, Varanasi, TEDx Indus Business Academy, Bangalore, TEDx IMT, Hyderabad, TEDx IIM, Shillong, and International Youth Forum for Policy, Change and Development at Sharda University, New Delhi.
- She is often seen doing social work. Once. she taught skill development to the children at a railway station.
- In an interview, she said that her family has always supported her during her journey in the show MasterChef India. She said,
It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my mom-in-law. She is like a rock, manages everything in my absence. Once while shooting I was missing my family and my mom-in-law immediately came with my son to Mumbai and spent four-five days with me. My husband is very supportive too; I turn to him for any kind of advice. My children are so proud of me when they get to hear good things about me from outside and their friends.”
- In one of her interviews, she talked about women choosing a career in cooking. She said,
Now if you see, a lot of women can be seen as professional chefs. But, yes, earlier was a different case. This is true with every other profession. Earlier girls were not allowed to step out for a long time.”
- Pankaj is a passionate animal lover and often posts pictures of them on social media.
- In an interview, she said that when she cooked, she tasted the food that led to her weight gain, and to keep herself fit, she works out regularly and often posts pictures on Instagram.