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Sashi thankful for local support


Adelaide-based MasterChef winner Sashi Cheliah may have a large fan base across the nation but the 40-year-old father of two was especially keen to thank members of two local Catholic communities for their support and love following his victory.

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Amidst the media hype immediately following his record-breaking score in the program’s grand finale, Singapore-born Sashi took time out from his hectic schedule to speak to The Southern Cross and express his gratitude to members of the Clearview/Kilburn parish and St Gabriel’s School Enfield.

“I would really love to thank the Church, especially Father Leon (Czechowicz) – they prayed for me nearly every Sunday, so I really want to thank them for all their support,” he said.

Forced to spend six months away from his family to film the series, it was through the care of those at the Good Shepherd Church and St Gabriel’s, where Sashi’s sons Marcus, 12, and Ryan, 10, go to school, that Sashi found comfort in knowing his family was being well looked after.

“I came back for the Christmas and Easter breaks, but other than that I was in Melbourne,” he explained. “It was very hard, but we had support from everyone, including the Church, Father Leon and St Gabriel’s.”

Although raised a Hindu, Sashi has close ties to the Catholic community.

“Because my wife is Catholic and my kids are Catholic, I go to church every time they do,” he said.

“I’m very open in terms of religion and embrace everyone. I have a rosary always in my pocket and am a very spiritual person. I was raised in both religions (Catholic and Hindu), so it is a bit of a combination for me.”

“Respect is the most important thing…we respect each other’s faith, my wife and I, so it works out very well for us.”

The eldest of seven children, Sashi was a police officer with the Star Unit in Singapore before he migrated to Australia in 2011. He was working as a case manager at the women’s prison in Adelaide before his selection on MasterChef.

In terms of his career change, Sashi couldn’t pinpoint what exactly led him from prison guard to cooking, although he said food had always played a role in his family.

“Cooking was a day-to-day thing for me but for some reason over the last couple of years, I became more passionate about it,” said Sashi.

“I come from a big family and cooking is a really important part of our life and family tradition.

“Even for St Gabriel’s, I’m always there every year at their Cultural Night.”

Sashi’s wife and sons were there to watch him in the final, along with his mother and aunt who travelled from Singapore.

Following his success in MasterChef, he set up a pop-up food venue in Melbourne and he plans to use his prize money of $250,000 to establish a restaurant in Adelaide.

Sashi also indicated he wants to work with ex-prisoners to provide assistance, rehabilitation and opportunities to obtain employment in the food industry.


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