Santosh Shah (Nepali: सन्तोष साह, born 5 November 1985) is a Nepali chef born and raised in Karjanha village in Siraha district of Nepal. He is the head chef at Cinnamon Kitchen London UK. He was the executive chef at The Lalit London.
He participated in MasterChef Professionals 2020 and became the first runner up. However, MasterChef Professionals fans praised him as ‘people’s champion’.
From humble beginnings on the streets of Nepal, to winning the nation’s hearts on Masterchef: The Professionals, chef Santosh Shah is putting Nepalese cuisine firmly on the map, with pride of his Nepalese nationality.
Santosh’s first culinary job was as a kitchen and commis chef in an Indian hotel when he was just 14. From then on, he worked tremendously hard, rising through the hospitality ranks in India, and eventually moving to the UK in 2010. Once in London, Santosh worked at some of the most renowned Indian kitchens, holding positions at Michelin-starred Benares restaurant and super trendy Dishoom, before becoming a Sous Chef at The Cinnamon Club and eventually Head Chef at its sister restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen.
Santosh worked at The Cinnamon Collection with Vivek Singh for three years, cooking for MP’s at The Cinnamon Club and City workers at Cinnamon Kitchen. He then took a position as Executive Chef at the five-star LaLit Hotel in London.
• Present :The Cinnamon Collection with Vivek Singh
• May 2018: The LaLiT London 5* Boutique Hotel – Baluchi Restaurant | A Pan Indian Destination
• February 2015 – April 2018: Cinnamon Club by Vivek Singh
• January 2014 – February 2015: Brasserie Blanc by Raymond Blanc
• February 2012- January 2014: Benares Restaurant, Berkeley Square, London, UK
• September 2011 – February 2012: Dishoom Bombay Café, Upper St.Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, UK
• April 2011 – September 2011: The Spicy Affair Restaurant, Croydon, UK
• December 2009 to April 2011: The Cambay Resort, Gujarat, India
• December 2008 to November 2009: Hotel Mediteran, Budva, Montenegro, Europe
• May 2005 to December 2008: Holiday Resort, Gandhidham, Gujarat, India
• September 2003 to February 2005: The Grand Bhagwati, Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India
• August 2002 to August 2003: Hotel Surya Palace, Baroda, Gujarat, India
• June 2000 to July 2002: Leo Resort, Junagadh, Gujarat, India
• British Curry Awards – Best in London City and Suburbs
• Conde Naste Johansens Awards for Excellence – Best Dining Experience in UK & Ireland, 2019
Diploma in Hotel & Catering Management IHCM, Baroda, Gujarat, India August 2002 to August 2003
I.A. (10+2 Arts) A.N. College, Patna, Bihar, India
What’s next? Santosh is looking forward to the future and what it may hold. His goal is to open a Nepalese restaurant in London and be awarded a Michelin star. For now, he will continue working on his skills, and learning from his mentors, to continue bettering himself and his cooking.
Santosh Shah Journey in Masterchef:
Getting to finals week of MasterChef: The Professionals is a dream come true for Santosh Shah.
The Nepali chef now based in London wowed the judges on his way to making the week’s final six.
Cooking for celebrity chef Andrew Wong, Santosh impressed with his stunning take on dim sum – his Yomari dumplings from Nepal were stuffed with chocolate, cashew nuts and chilli, topped with orange and cinnamon.
Santosh went on to cook a second dish for the judges – crispy chilli chicken, Indo-Chinese style, with crispy lotus roots, seaweed and vegetable pickles, served with hot and sour soup and crispy noodles.
The judges were so impressed that they announced his food was the best dish of the day and sent Santosh straight through to the finals round.
Always wanted to bring Nepali cuisine to the world stage and this show has given me this opportunity,” Santosh told the BBC.
The show has also turned him into a celebrity back home in Nepal, where he has been interviewed by top TV shows and his face is all over national media.
Santosh is not the first contestant to say Master Chef is very tough.
“We have to be mentally strong, we are timed, and put under immense pressure. I practice each dish numerous times in advance,” he said.
“Then there is the pressure of the camera and the judges are quite demanding. The competition is getting tighter and more demanding as chefs get eliminated in each round.”
Chef Santosh Shah’s Achievement
“MasterChef has been an incredible and life-changing experience for me. I will continue to keep learning and experimenting to create unique Nepali dishes for global food lovers,” he says.
Given his background, his achievement in getting this far is certainly being noticed.
“Santosh is already a celebrity among the Nepali community in the UK as well as back home,” says Kul Acharya, owner of the Holy Cow fine-dining restaurant and takeaway chain in London, who also worked as a kitchen porter and chef before setting up his own business.
“Though the South Asian community is well-established in the UK, for a Nepali chef to make it to the MasterChef finals is extraordinary.”
MasterChef shows are not aired directly in Nepal for copyright issues, so many Nepalese follow Santosh on social media and watch the show on YouTube.
He has received congratulatory messages from, among others, Binod Chaudhary, Nepal’s only dollar billionaire; and Prabal Gurung, a celebrity fashion designer originally from Nepal and now based in New York.
Whatever happens this week, the future seems bright for Santosh.
He recently met prospective investors to discuss launching a Nepali restaurant at the heart of London. “They were not interested at the beginning. But after I was selected to be on MasterChef, they have invited me for business meetings as soon as I am free.”
Nepali chef Santosh Shah becomes runner up in the Masterchef Professionals finals
LONDON, Dec 18: Nepali chef Santosh Shah came in third place on the UK’s most prestigious cookery show, Masterchef: The Professionals on BBC One.
Santosh captivated both the judges and audience with his show-stopping Nepalese cuisine and inspiring journey.
“I always wanted to bring Nepalese cuisine to the world stage and now this show has give