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Sanjeev Pandey

I want to win so I can continue to practice my dedication and devotion to representing Indian Cuisine here in America.

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How long have you been cooking?

I come from a farming family, growing up, I used to passionately watch my Grandmother, my mother, and my aunts cook in the kitchen of my joint family home of roughly 60 members in my village in India. The process of bulk cooking and serving a big family always intrigued me. Little did I know that this will be a profession I will be joining. I started cooking on a regular basis when I opened Indian Harvest since 1999.

What is your signature dish?

Allahabadi Aloo, a very simple dish made out of cubes of potatoes tempered with coriander seeds seasoned with turmeric, salt, and lemon juice topped with fresh cilantro. During my stay with my grandparents in my native farmland in India, at the time of coriander harvest, this was a staple my grandmother would prepare. This dish takes me back to those memories with the fresh smell of coriander. It is a vibrant dish, full of textures and flavors that are unlike many mainstream Indian offerings.

What will you do with the $50,000?

Winning this award would mean having the opportunity to eradicate those financial worries that all of us experience from time to time. It would also allow me to continue doing what I love with some relief from the financial stress involved. Winning this would allow me to further develop my skills by collaborating with other chefs in my network and bring on young and new talent so that they can be given the blessed opportunity to do the same with the newfound resources.