EXCLUSIVE: Anaheed Sarian Speaks to Masterchef Australia Star Anushka Zargaryan

By Anaheed Sarian - armenia.com.au | Monday, 22 July 2019

By Anaheed Sarian - armenia.com.au

This picture was last Tuesday morning, after Australia found out that Anushka Zargaryan had been eliminated from Masterchef, that I had the pleasure of interviewing this mysterious woman who captivated the attention of so many, but particularly her Armenian-Australian kin.

Our conversation was filled with enthusiasm. Anushka was brimming with excitement to share her story and her message with Armenia Media and its readers: “What took me to Masterchef was a love for cooking. It’s something I wanted to do for myself, I loved the show for so many years!

“What I got out of it was a clarity for what I want to do next, which is absolutely priceless. I’m 50 years old with a new direction in life, new inspirations and new ideas that I’m really passionate about!”

I was interested to know, as are many followers of her journey, what Anushka sees in her future. She is passionate about using cooking, and specifically baking, as a tool for helping people overcome mental illness. She believes strongly that food is more than consumption, that it is a creative outlet - both expressive and therapeutic.

This is the focus she wishes to highlight now. She hopes that through her personal experience and expertise, she can pass on the gift of ‘food as therapy’ to others. It’s a heartwarming concept.

One might conclude that Anushka wanting to share her personal victory with others makes her a true winner!

Of the many challenging and wonderful dishes Anushka presented this season, she notes her absolute favourite one was made during an episode where family members were invited to the set.

She had 20 minutes to create her dessert that day and somehow, through the support and encouragement of seeing her family there, she made it happen. Her fennel and apple combination was something they new and loved from home and were adamant that she could recreate in this hardcore Masterchef team challenge.

I was too shy to ask for the recipe!

On friendship and peers, Anushka revealed: “We made lifelong friendships in the house. Living together like families do and the pressure of the whole experience brought us together. No one could relate better to us than ourselves!”

“We had each other’s backs. Some friends who I absolutely adore are Walleed, Tati and Sandeep. We all supported each other and are great friends outside of the show. We are currently collaborating on new food products and business ideas together.”

Being away from family was difficult, and Anushka explains that she felt disconnected, as though she had let go of her duties to pursue her dream. What she has done, however, is teach her family that it’s never too late to try.

With a 29yr old son and 26yr old daughter, she is no longer nurturing them as children, but showing them the amazing success one can have with determination and practice.

I think it’s a phenomenal approach, to remove time or place, and simply imagine the possibility of trying something new, something for your personal self that will empower you and your loved ones no matter what stage of life you’re in. Anyone can be inspired by her message.

Born in Armenia, Anushka moved to Australia with her family in 2001 and cites cooking as part of the Armenian DNA and culture.

She believes our affinity with flavour and culinary experimentation comes from our location in-between Europe, Asia and the Middle-East.

The unique Armenian cuisine that continues to shine and develop over time serves as Anushka’s greatest educator, so much that she is taking a tour around our homeland this August to re-engage with the ingredients and aromas she fondly remembers, and brainstorm exquisite dishes.

“Armenians… we are proud of who we are, and I have that within me too,” she told me. “I knew that going on national television, Armenians are identifying with me, because of course that’s what I would do if I saw myself represented on TV.”

“So I was always aware that I’m representing my people and my culture, and I really wanted to do that in the best light. I wanted people to see Armenian-ness in me, to make other cultures aware of us and who we are through my character and my creations. I really hope I have made everyone proud and inspired all Armenians to be brave with their dream.”

Anushka looks forward to meeting us all in Sydney on the 29th of September for a special masterclass where she will share with us her modern-Armenian cuisine - what a treat! Follow armenia.com.au and FB.com/ArmeniaOnline for details.

Right now you can find her first release of recipes on anushkaskitchen.com.au (spoiler, they’re delightful!).