Sashi Cheliah holds the record for the highest ever score in a Masterchef Australia finale.
Raised in Singapore, Sashi has lived in Adelaide with wife Rabicca Vijayan and children since 2012. Sashi applied for the 2018 season of the popular cooking show and went on to win with 93 points out of the maximum 100.
Throughout the season, he was vocal about his desire to open a fusion restaurant heralding Indian and South Asian flavours. Since its culmination, Sashi has made that dream a reality, spearheading a series of pop up restaurants around Australia and overseas, including GAJA by Sashi in the Melbourne CBD.
Sashi is now bringing GAJA to Adelaide!
“All the dishes are exciting because they are curated specially for GAJA by myself, with a little touch of Masterchef,” Sashi tells us. “Guests can expect to find a mix of Asian inspired dishes, sharing plates, and Asian inspired cocktails.”
Patrons will even get a chance to taste Sashi’s “Cari Vit” or Lychee Duck Curry – which was an award-winning dish for Sashi on MasterChef.
Adelaide’s GAJA will sit on Pirie Street, joining the bustling restaurant scene that is continuing to grow.
“I’d like GAJA to be a destination visited by everyone,” says Sashi. “Adelaide’s food scene has grown so quickly over the past five years, and we have some amazing produce and chefs in the industry.”
The fit-out was completed by Adelaide based interior design company Malbarosa & Co., and is based on Colonial Singapore, with a touch of modern style.
At the heart of the restaurant is a large mural of an elephant, which is the meaning of ‘GAJA’, and incorporates a reference to all the country’s that will feature on Sashi’s menu – China, India and Malaysia.
So, what’s the inspiration?
“It comes from my love of elephants,” says Sashi. “GAJA means Elephant in three languages – Sanskrit, Tamil and Malay. A GAJA personifies a number of positive attributes, including abundance, fertility and richness, boldness and strength, and wisdom and royalty.”
When Sashi chats to us, he is in South Africa, soon to return to Sydney. He is also currently working on a cookbook.
It would seem that Masterchef was only the beginning.
GAJA will sit at 4/86 Pirie Street and is set to open to the public on Monday, 11 November for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.