MasterChef India Winner Abinas talks about modernizing traditional cuisines, brand building & social media

MasterChef India winner Abinas Nayak quit his job at Infosys to pursue his passion for cooking. Native of Odisha, Nayak wants to travel around the country and document more indigenous recipes and present them in a modernized way. He spoke with Playknox about all his plans including the importance of branding and social media


What is the signature dish that won you the MasterChef title? How was your entire experience? 

It was not just a single dish that made me win the MasterChef so I would say that my first and the last dish were the most impactful one. My first dish was chicken besara with mustard paste, which is a traditional Odia dish and is quite famous. I gave it my twist and modernized it in my own way. The last three courses were ginger and mutton and the dessert which was Sudhata, the textures of milk. Along with these there were many dishes that I made which were quite impactful like tempered white chocolate that had six seven elements which featured different forms of milk. Chocolate cheese mousse was another one of the desserts.

My entire experience on MasterChef was life changing. It was always a dream to be on that stage and be able to present your cuisine on such an esteemed platform. It was such a pleasure to share with people about Odia cuisine. The whole experience was memorable. It was four months where we cooked and had all the hardships and a lot of fun along with a lot of learning. All this is going to stay with me forever in my life. I was successfully able to change my profession from an IT job to a Chef now which I wanted to do for a long time. 


What is next now for you? What have you been cooking during the lockdown? 

Next for me is to travel and learn but obviously after the lockdown and when things get better. I want to document a lot of recipes. I am also planning a lot of webinars and working on a book. I want to put it all together and the ultimate goal is to open a restaurant. During the lockdown what I have realised is a lot of people have started cooking so what I did is think and engage myself with documenting the masalas (spices) and basics of cooking that would help all the newbies who are trying to learn through my book. I published “Masalas by Abinas” which had a lot of Indian traditional recipes along with some international spice blend.


Also in the lockdown I have started making some traditional dishes that I had not made before. Apart from this I have also started one series called “Indian pantry one on one” where I am talking about the ingredients present in our day to day pantry in our homes because a lot of people are not aware of the facts that how we can use it so I am engaging myself in such activities. 



How important is the brand building process for someone like you? Are you collaborating with any brands? Tell us about your past collaborations? 

As of now I can’t reveal with whom I am working because it’s in process for now but yes brand building is very important in our sector especially when you are working in a creative field. Here we have to create our own image our own style which we have to do constantly so that people can recognise you and your work.

People recognise me because I have modernized regional cuisine and I present them in a modern way which is eventually my style. When we are in a creative field we have to keep creating different stuff so that people can recognise you and your brand. I am working with a few brands for now but it’s yet to be finalized so that is what it is right now. And obviously I am looking forward to more brands who want to work with me. I will welcome them with my open hands to be frank. 


What all cuisines are you interested in? What is your personal favourite dish to cook? 

See basically food is emotions for me. I love regional cuisines that are my major I would say and that is why I want to travel in India and learn to cook and taste all types of cuisines. Regional cuisines in the sense which talks about the indigenous ingredients and about the lost primitive methods. So I love cooking these recipes in the modern times but when it comes to eating I am a big fan of Hyderabad Mughalai cuisines that is Hyderabadi biryani and other non veg cuisines. I love making biryani for me and my buddies. And when it comes to comfort food then I would say I love making and eating the khichdi that is the meetha khichdi which my nani use to make for me now I have learned that and it is my go to food. 


How important is social media for someone like you? How do you normally like to engage with your fans and followers? 

Social media I would say is a gateway for all of us creative people out there. It’s a blessing I would say. Today Instagram has made it so easier for us to reach our fans and society also it helps us to tell them what we are up to and what we are cooking through you know Instagram stories and going live or IGTV. I love posting about stuff on my gram ( @abimilano) and fans certainly love it. It’s more of a reality channel for them to know us on a day to day basis. Nowadays I am going Live with a particular purpose that I told you earlier about the “Indian pantry one on one”. Well my purpose is to connect to my audience and make them learn what is present in some ingredients so that they can learn. There are a lot of tools on Instagram like the Q&A, it helps us both ways. I try to stay connected to my audience and I certainly love that I love answering the questions that they ask. All in all it’s a good influence I would say for both me and my fans.


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