Priya Krishna Talks About The Generational Divide In The New Season Of MasterChef - Exclusive Interview

No one else gets creative with flavors like Priya Krishna. Krishna is a master of taking classic common foods and putting her own spin on them. Her book "Indian-ish" is a prime example of Krishna's approachable and creative content, which is shaped by her own skills and her upbringing. The book brings inspiration from multiple generations while appealing to a modern audience with dishes such as saag feta, a play of the classic saag paneer. This is why Krishna was the perfect choice as a guest judge on "MasterChef: Generations." This season of "MasterChef" is putting generations to the test, pitting four cohorts against each other: Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z.

Krishna judged her fellow Millennials to decide who would make it into the competition. We spoke with Krishna in an exclusive interview to discuss the differences in how generations cook and find out why she thinks a Millennial is poised to take home the trophy this year.

Cooking growing up

This season of "MasterChef" features people from four generations. What are some of your favorite foods to make with your family?

I have to go with my dal from my book "Indian-ish." Dal and rice. It's my comfort food.

You recently wrote an article about cooking with your mother while you were growing up. What cooking lesson did you learn from her?

I think moving away from the mentality that I have to be standing in the kitchen all day feeding my family. Women are busy. We've got a lot going on. We are working now, and my mom was a working mother and she fed us in the 20 minutes between when she got home from work and we sat at the dinner table. And I think that mentality, that cooking shouldn't be a chore, it should be something you enjoy and it doesn't have to be something that takes all day — that is the biggest lesson I took away from her.

As a Millennial, what skills and traits do you think millennials bring to the kitchen?

I think Millennials have an open mind. We are children of the internet. We grew up on YouTube. We grew up seeing cuisines of different cultures. We aren't afraid to go outside of our comfort zone. We are also both analog and digital. We understand the value of a cookbook, but we also look to Instagram for recipes. So I feel like we are sort of equally skilled in the digital-first realm as we are in the print, more analog realm of cooking.

Don't fake it when you make it

When you were judging, what made the difference between the dishes that made the cut and those that didn't, and were there any consistent mistakes or traits you saw across the board?

I feel like the biggest mistake I saw was people putting things on a plate that they thought we would like rather than just putting themselves on a plate. I feel like oftentimes people are like, "Oh, the judges will love this." or they're trying to be super fancy for the sake of being fancy, but we just want food that tastes good and represents who you are. And I think the dishes that I gravitated towards the most were the ones that really told an authentic story about the person.

Was there any particular dish that stood out to you?

I can't remember the contestant, but there was this delicious pasta dish. It was ... I'm trying to remember what all it had in it. It was just so cozy and it was such a cold day in California the day we were shooting, and I just dug into that pasta. I think it had goat cheese, it was very creamy.

Was that the ravioli?

It was the ravioli. Yes, yes, yes. It was the ravioli and it was just very comforting. It sort of reminded me of the first pasta that I loved as a kid.

Working on 'MasterChef'

What was it like working with Gordon Ramsay and the other judges?

They were so nice and so welcoming. They could not have been kinder. I flew in from London. It was such a whirlwind and they just made the transition so easy. I was very intimidated. They're all pros, but they made me feel like I was one of them.

What differences do you see in how the generations approach cooking?

I think it's like a lot of what I just said. I think with Gen Z is very much chill first. And then you have the Boomers who are very much, they grew up with cookbooks, they grew up with, "This is how it's done." Gen Zers really aren't afraid to play fast and loose, and I think Millennials are sort of somewhere in the middle. I think we understand the rules, but we're not afraid to break them.

If you had a signature dish, what would it be?

Oh, God. Can I say dal again? Dal or maybe the most popular dish in "Indian-ish," my cookbook, which is my saag paneer, but instead of paneer, you use feta and it is by far the most popular thing and it's the best and most luxurious way to eat a pound of greens. And I probably make it once a week.

What was the inspiration for replacing the paneer with feta?

It's my mom's dish. When we went to Greece when we were younger, she ate spanakopita, which combines spinach and feta, and she thought these two things went so well together. And I think she was out of paneer one day and she had a block of feta, so she was like, "Why not try it?"

The best barbecue around

Recently on Instagram you posted about getting barbecue. What is your favorite barbecue spot?

I recently went to Barb's Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas. And I just think what they are doing is so creative and so fun. And it's like they understand how to make really good barbecue, but they also have these little touches that make it really special. Like the lime zest on top of the ribs and the green spaghetti side. It's just a delightful restaurant.

Do you have any go-to menu items when you go there?

The green spaghetti for sure.

What tips do you have for upcoming generations learning to cook?

Just keep cooking. Repetition. Repetition is really the best thing. Buy cookbooks, try things that feel completely unfamiliar to you. That's how you're going to expand and extend your point of view.

What generation do you think is going to take the trophy be home this year?

I think Millennials, I feel like we are truly right smack in the middle. We are the most flexible. I feel really good about our crop of chefs.

Is there a dish that you think is the epitome of Millennial food?

Probably avocado toast.

Do you have any favorite avocado toast toppings?

So I'm actually allergic to avocado, which is the most anti-Millennial thing ever. But when I used to eat avocado, I used to put chaat masala on top of it.

Watch new episodes of "MasterChef: Generations" starting May 29th, 2024 on Fox.