MasterChef Australia’s popular Brendan Pang’s passion for food was sparked by his Chinese-Mauritian grandmother, whom he fondly refers to as ‘grand-mere.’ Building upon her foundation, he ventured into dim-sum, a dish he is now famous for.
The chef, who was recently in India, for the first time, hosted a six-course dinner in Bengaluru, at The Leela Palace’s Pan-Asian restaurant, Zen.
Having emerged from the crucible of MasterChef Australia, Chef Pang says the show had a profound impact on his culinary evolution. “I’ve always thought there was just one way of doing something,” he reflects. “What MasterChef taught me was that you can do something and make it taste or look good in so many different ways.”
The show’s constraints of limited ingredients and time propelled him to get creative in the kitchen. It also instilled in him the invaluable lesson of staying true to his Chinese-Mauritian heritage.
Since his appearance on the show, Chef Pang’s career has flourished on multiple fronts. He now devotes himself full-time to the food industry, running his own dumpling kitchen called Dumplings in his hometown of Perth. (His frozen range of dumplings can be found in stores across Australia.) He has authored two cookbooks This is a book about Dumplings and This is a book about Noodles.
Discussing his menu for India, Chef Pang emphasises the significance of culinary traditions passed down through generations. “It’s about sharing my style of food.”
“For me, the deep-rooted connection to food and my family is what sparks my enthusiasm. I cherish the memories of being a home cook, of sharing the love of cooking with my loved ones. It’s a profound part of who I am.”
Drawing parallels between Indian and Chinese-Mauritian cuisines Chef Pang says both have rich historical and cultural backgrounds. “I feel closely connected to this cuisine as my Mauritian upbringing was influenced by a rather strong Indian fix”.
“Growing up we ate a lot of dholl puri, little fritters, and fried goods on the street, as well as many Indian sweets and I loved every bit of it. Many of the flavours I’ve experienced in India are approachable and familiar to me, even though they might be slightly different. So I’m quite excited to try some more.”
Pang started his Indian culinary adventures with a dosa. “I’ve fallen in love with the rich flavour… I’ve had it before, but that was nothing like the one I’ve had here in Bangalore. I also tried some Chinese-Indian, which was really tasty. It combined all the flavours and aroma I love—lots of garlic, spice, chilli, and fried foods.” And then, there was barfi. “I found it exquisite, a perfect symphony of sweetness and texture.”
For the The Leela Palace event, Pang presented his unique take on Chinese cooking, paying homage to tradition while infusing it with a playful spirit. Guests savoured his renowned silky prawn wontons served with a savoury-sweet-sour vinegar dressing and homemade chilli oil.
The meal also featured pan-fried mushroom and truffle potstickers, truffle and egg fried rice, and sweet and sour fish.
“For Bengaluru, I’ve brought my own take on Chinese cooking,” Pang reveals. “It respects tradition with time-honoured recipes, but I’ve added a trendy, approachable, and fun twist.”