Avinash Pattnaik grew up developing a fond love for plants and eventually, landed a job as an Agriculture Officer serving the Odisha Government.

But six years into the job, he realised his calling was elsewhere. So, he quit his job in 2016 and decided to pursue PhD while following his passion for cooking.

Today, the 35-year-old has made it to the top among 12 contestants at MasterChef India Season 7, dazzling the judges with his innovative recipes.

But the journey from quitting the job to making it to MasterChef was not straightforward.

“Many relatives even said that I have lost my mind. Amidst all this, I had some moments where I started to question my own choices,” he says.

“I am really passionate about food and flowers, and I kept thinking of ways in which I can combine the two,” he adds.

He started documenting lesser-known edible flowers in a blog which eventually gave him the idea to create floral fusion recipes.

“Many of my friends told me how I need a bigger platform to highlight Odisha cuisine through my unique recipes,” he says.

So, Avinash decided to showcase his talents on MasterChef and represent authentic Odisha food on national television.

He says he wants to protect the recipes of his homeland, his mother, and his grandmother from being forgotten.

Avinash has used numerous flowers — such as blue pea, coral jasmine, hibiscus, agasti, bahunia, palash, marigold, rose, gulmohar,  — to make sharbats, chatnis, and many other dishes.

“Both before and after MasterChef, my aim was and will always be to promote lesser-known edible flowers through my food,” says Avinash.

He also shares that his dream is to one day build a homegrown cafe, where people can come and enjoy authentic Odisha food with floral fusion.