In the year 2019, a daughter from Chandigarh sent an application for participation of her mother in MasterChef India – Season 6 — the mother was amongst the Top 5 chosen contestants to go into further rounds to Mumbai, Maharashtra. She had cleared all 3 levels of audition rounds and her winner recipe was named as ‘Pure Veg Chicken-Leg’ -the preparation was purely original – the authentic recipe was built up from scratch using Bengal Gram (Chana Dal) and all purpose flour (Maida)——She is Archana Srivastava. “At the time of getting into MasterChef, I was demotivated by many people, and had to listen to things like ‘ek aam mahila kya kar sakti hai – tumne nahi jana chahiye’ (What will a woman do, you shouldn’t be going there), still I decided to go. I came out of my kitchen and people accepted me with open arms.
At an age of 52 people have started recognising me and I have received their love and appreciation — brands like Amul, Nestle invite me today on their platforms.” -Archana describes her MasterChef stint as ignition, further she says “I loved to watch MasterChef India, whenever it was aired or relayed repeatedly I got glued watching the television. I always thought I would go there once, and that did happen,”. Joyously Archana says, “This was my turning point in life, the Air Force -Eastern Sector Panagarh had applauded, appreciated my participation and encouraged me with a letter of approval—I became popular, and a feeling of celebrity prevails around me — the MasterChef experience was awesome!”.
Born in Kanpur, Archana Srivastava was brought up in Lucknow in a joint family, her father was an Accounts Officer in the Defence Department and mother was a homemaker, she grew up with 2 brothers and a sister. Archana completed her schooling in Lucknow, and graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts and got honours in History from Meerut University, Uttar Pradesh. While pursuing her graduation she got married to an Air Force officer. As her husband’s job profile demanded and his posting happened Archana had to move to various regions and cities of India like Chennai, Kashmir, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Pune, Jaisalmer, Chandigarh, and Panagarh. While she was in Chandigarh in the year 2005-06, she did her Diploma in Cosmetology from S.D. College, Chandigarh. Through all these years of living in various cities, Archana loved exploring the different cuisines of the different states — her love for cooking had grown from her childhood—she used to work with her mother in the kitchen.
In the year 2016 she was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and she had to stay away from cooking for almost one and a half years, but that time span came -and- went, and Archana’s food journey continues. Archana is the Secretary of ‘The Air Force Wives Welfare Association’, here she has taught many women in the fields of cooking especially making Indian pickles and desserts, and she also counsels youngsters about healthy living. On 5th April 2020 Archana began her own food group on Facebook by the name of ‘Xperience Food by Archana’- the group is growing daily, and she also marks her presence on Instagram and YouTube too. Archana wants to open up her dream restaurant and for that she has recently done an Entrepreneurship Certification course from IIM Bangalore. She says, “I love to cook——I learnt cooking from my mother and mother-in-law a lot. I want to revive all those lost Indian cuisine recipes and present them to the world with my touch to them,”. She has fully engrossed herself into it, she credits her husband – her daughters for all that she could do today, and also admires her friends for their unconditional support throughout this journey.
In her signing off message to today’s women, Archana says, “Women must know their strength, women are capable of doing anything, and can achieve anything. Take the family into confidence and start work. Plan things, create a proper structure and then execute — here, age is just a number. But, one thing- never compromise on your health and fitness,”.