In an emotional moment, Nepal's Santosh Shah, runner-up of "BBC MasterChef UK: The Professionals" wiped his tears off as he arrived in his home country on Thursday.
Dozens of fellow chefs, admirers, and onlookers welcomed Shah with garlands of flowers and rudraksha along with a wagon of cooked foods and rhododendron- the national flower of Nepal.
"I am extremely happy. A Bhanse (cook) is getting such recognition and welcome, I feel like I'm in London. I wish other chefs also would get grandeur like this. Chefs from our country should stand amongst the world's Master Chefs," Shah told reporters as he touched down here on Thursday afternoon.
The first Nepali chef to reach the finale of Master Chef UK, Shah, who hails from the Karjanha villages of the Siraha District in Nepal's Southern Plains, bagged second place in the last season of the cooking show.
Impressing judges with his culinary arts that managed to be authentic yet modern, Shah became an icon for many around the globe as well as in his homeland.
The 35-year-old Chef from the Himalayan Nation stunned the world with his preparation of chargrilled octopus with marinated Timur Pepper (grown in the Himalayas) wrapped in Taro Leaf (another local ingredient) served with hemp chutney, curried yogurt, and a side of nettle leaf and potato.
After achieving the height on an International arena, Shah announced that he has many moreplans in the pipeline, from a food map to a book on traditional cuisines.
"I have several plans for the future. I have prepared a world map of food and I plan to induct at least five Nepali foods in every country. If we look at India, 'naan' is theirs. Likewise, Chhwela (a typical Newari dish) also should be known by its name of Chhwela around the globe and I have prepared a world map for it," Chef Santosh Shah said as he unveiled his plans for the future.
"I also am preparing a book which will be published soon. I am here for research purposes as well. The book will be published in five languages and will be published from Penguin Books (a British Publishing house) along with a Nepali cookbook. Apart from that, I am planning to open up my restaurant in London and later here too. I will mainly focus on Nepali cuisines in the coming days," Shah added.
Shah started his culinary journey in the UK working at Dishoom, an Indian chain restaurant over a decade before. In his professional journey, which now has stretched over 20 years, Shah has worked with Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, at Kochhar's restaurant, Benares, and also as executive chef at The LaLit London.
Shah currently is the head chef at Cinnamon Kitchen in London.
( With inputs from ANI )
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