'MasterChef Australia' Star Sumeet Saigal's Fusion Sauce Victory Means A Lot More Than Meets The Eye

As she secures a Top 10 spot with her winning InTALIAN Simmer Sauce, Sumeet Saigal has lots to celebrate.

MasterChef Australia 2024 contestant Sumeet Saigal with Curtis Stone

MasterChef Australia star Sumeet Saigal with Curtis Stone. Image Source: Channel 10

Since entering the MasterChef Australia kitchen at the start of this season, Sumeet Saigal has made no secret of the fact she’s a self-described ‘Sauce Boss’. Eager to showcase the versatility of Indian ingredients and spices that can so often be pigeonholed by the masses as merely useful for ‘curries’, Saigal has made it a goal of hers to combine traditional and contemporary flavours to create delicious sauces and pastes to tantalise the taste buds. 

Thursday night’s immunity challenge on the Channel 10 cooking show was unquestionably right up her alley, where contestants were tasked with creating a fusion sauce that took inspiration from two countries. Adapting flavours from Indian and Italian cuisines, Saigal showcased her creation with InTALIAN meatballs and naan with oregano chilli butter, and yes you guessed it right, she won! 

Besides securing the first spot in the Top 10 and her sauce now being stocked in Coles supermarkets, one of Saigal’s greatest personal victories in all of this is the increased self-confidence she has in her culinary skills and career dreams. Afterall, she resigned from her job as a sales manager in order to appear on the popular cooking show.

“The whole MasterChef experience is a journey of culinary growth, but it’s also a journey of personal growth,” the 46-year-old tells Draw Your Box. “You discover so much about yourself as you're going through the journey.” 

While life on the outside understandably involves other familial, career and personal commitments and influences, time in the MasterChef kitchen has given the mother-of-two a chance to solely focus on her food dream and developing her cooking skills.

“There you are in the sort of environment where all you're doing before seven is breathing food. You know everything about it,” she explains. “You're reading, studying, practising, thinking, writing – you're just so engrossed and so immersed in the experience of MasterChef.” 

When it came to this challenge with celebrity chef Curtis Stone, Saigal says she walked in “with real intent” and “determination” on the day. After winning the challenge, she remarks “the voice that said, ‘How dare you dream’ – you know, shut up – because now my dreams have just gotten bigger”. 

Many viewers have since reached out to her on social media to not only praise her cooking, but share the impact she’s had on their own food dreams. 

“People have reached out and said, ‘Oh my god. You know, I've always wanted to do this and never been able to do it, and you've made me believe it’. And really, that's what it's about,” she reflects. “Yes, it's a sauce on a shelf… Yes, it's incredible. Yes, it allows for expression. However, it is also a manifestation of that dream coming true. Someone just breaking barriers and going, ‘No, I want to do this, and I'm going to find a way to do it’.” 

Of course, being in the public eye sparks a mixture of reactions, with Saigal saying her core audience comes from Australia as well as Indian viewers.

“On social media, you’re gonna have all sorts of opinions. You're never gonna be able to please everybody. The Prime Minister is not popular with everyone,” she laughs, adding that she’s grateful for both the positive reactions but also the critiques that can help her to learn and develop. 

As she now enjoys the security of being the first contestant into the Top 10, Saigal imparts some wisdom for aspiring chefs at home who also want to experiment with different flavours to create unique dishes. 

“When we start going down the route of fusion cuisine, it's got to be fusion and not confusion,” she says. “So that's one of the things we have to find a real fine balance with. I think that comes down to actually understanding it, and everybody at home can do that.” 

Saigal says to first find the “common thread” that “ties the two things together”, and then pick “others that complement”. 

“You just have to give it a go, because a lot of it is trial and error… have fun with it,” she says. “That's what food is about. You can't be too serious about it, you actually have to enjoy it – because food is enjoyed.” 

MasterChef Australia star Sumeet Saigal's InTALIAN Simmer Sauce is available at Coles

MasterChef Australia star Sumeet Saigal's InTALIAN Simmer Sauce is available at Coles. Image Source: Channel 10

Saigal entered the MasterChef competition alongside 21 other home cooks for a chance to win $250,000 in prize money. They are Alex Crisp, Darrsh Clarke, David Tan, Gillian Dinh, Harry Butterfield, James Holmes, Jonathan Hooper, Josh Clarke, Josh Perry, Juan De La Cruz Torales Villarreal, Khristian Walker, Lachlan Whittle, Lily Davies, Lourdes Leschen, Mimi Wong, Nat Thaipun, Savindri Perera, Snezana Calic, Steph Griffen, Stephen Dennis and Sue Bazely.

The judges this year are Andy Allen, Poh Ling Yeow, Sofia Levin and Jean-Christophe Novelli. 

Saigal’s InTALIAN Simmer Sauce is now available on Coles shelves for a limited time. MasterChef Australia 2024 continues on Sunday at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.