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INTERVIEW – British Tamil Brin Pirathapan crowned MasterChef Champion 2024

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Brin Pirathapan, a British Tamil veterinary surgeon, has claimed the prestigious title of MasterChef Champion 2024, winning the 20th series of UK TV’s biggest cooking competition.

In an interview with the Tamil Guardian, 29-year-old Brin spoke of the inspiration he drew from his Tamil background to create bold, creative combinations of flavours that led to him being awarded the coveted MasterChef trophy.

Speaking the day after his historic win on Wednesday evening, he credited his parents, father Gopal, a civil engineer, and mother Darley, who works for a bank, for inspiring his love of food and flavour, and said he felt lucky his Tamil culinary culture had such an integral role in his cooking.

“[My parents] are great cooks and I’ve been lucky enough to be treated to amazing Tamil flavours throughout my life,” said Brin.

“With this Tamil background, I’ve seen how every dish is there for a reason, how certain things do or don’t go with certain things, and how flavours marry up.

“I’ve taken those lessons from our Tamil culture at a foundation level and put them into the different types of cuisine I do and the modern European way I cook.

“Even though you might not see a curry on the plate, the Tamil food I’ve been exposed to has taught me how to refine my bold dishes to be packed full of flavour - I wanted my food to look pretty but to be as flavoursome as a pile of rice with six curries which you eat with your hands.” 

In the final episode, his parents spoke of how they had arrived in the UK in a “difficult situation,” with ethnic conflict raging in Sri Lanka. "They came to the UK because Sri Lanka was not a safe place to be,” he told The Times. Brin was clear they played a key role in his MasterChef journey.

“When I look at my childhood all I saw is that they tried to do as much as possible to give me every chance we could have to succeed at life and not be hindered that they came over in a difficult situation,” he told the Tamil Guardian.

“They gave me so many opportunities and it’s made me the person I am today - really it’s made me a MasterChef champion!”

Brin said he felt totally overwhelmed by the support of his Tamil parents and the community at large. He was born in Ilford and grew up in Chelmsford, Essex before moving to Bristol, but has won support from across the country. There was an added element of his family seeing him pursue his passion that made them even more proud.

“We cannot express how proud we are,” his mother Darley said during the final episode.

Throughout his time on MasterChef, the Tamil influence on his dishes shone through.

Brin said his dish in the second round, a sambal-crusted rack of lamb with an aubergine relish, was based on the kathirikai curries he would eat growing up, showcasing how his cooking is an amalgamation of his Tamil heritage and British upbringing.

He fondly recalled how his favourite dishes growing up were mutton curries and mutton rolls, which at times he loved so much his mother had to tell him not to eat so much of at parties, and which he jokingly attributed to being a slightly ‘larger’ kid.

 “You have got this pastry with an incredible crunch filled with tender bits of meat wrapped in all these spices, that was top-notch for me,” he said. “Even the vegetarian curries, like fried aubergine, when you’re a teenager you see how tasty these are.”

As he delves into the food industry, he is particularly keen to ensure his Tamil influences are central to his cooking and to learn more about the basis of Tamil food.

“In all honesty, I want to have more of the Tamil influences on my cooking and bring as much of our culture into what I do as much as possible and refine it. And now I have a platform that I can do that.”

Some other noticeable Tamil-inspired dishes during the series included a pork tenderloin and four-way onion dish, in which he described the onion as the basic ingredient of Tamil cooking, and a tiger prawn curry which he told judges was inspired by his father’s memories at school.

“These are ingredient combinations that Brin is inventing,” said MasterChef judge, Gregg Wallace. “That makes him dangerously clever. He’s got technique, he’s got creativity.”

“In my experience, Brin is unique. One of the cleverest talents I’ve ever, ever seen.”

Brin’s competition-winning dishes started with fried capers, pickled chilli, pickled and charred shallots, orange and honey-glazed octopus with tempura mussels, herb tuilles dusted with scallop roe, an orange gel and samphire on a romesco sauce.

His main course was spiced venison loin, beef short-rib and pickled mushroom tartlet, celeriac and miso purée, salt-baked beetroot and pak choi, served with a gochujang and red wine sauce split with a herb oil. He finished his menu with a dessert of white chocolate and cardamom and saffron cremeux, with pistachio meringue shards, whisky-poached mango, raspberry gel, pistachio crumb and a mango, lime and chilli sorbet.

As for the next steps, Brin hopes to refine his online content, release some cookbooks and create some supper clubs or private dining, as he finds his future in the food industry

“I just really hope that I’ve managed to make our Tamil community really proud,” said Brin. “If I’ve done that, I feel like I’ve really succeeded.”


MasterChef Series 20 is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. 

All photographs courtesy of Shine TV/BBC

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