Milan Bhayana’s online fame started with a video he and his older sister Malaika made on the last Thanksgiving of the Beef Wellington he made. He had no idea the video would go viral and end up on a cooking reality show.
Milan, a 15-year-old sophomore at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, is one of 13 young chefs from across the country who recently appeared on Peacock’s “Top Chef Family Style” series. The show pairs each participant with an adult family member. The first episode of the series will air on Thursday.
Milan describes himself as a “very picky” eater when he was younger, a characterization with which his mother, Chandrani Ghosh, agrees.
He told Bethesda Beat last week that he started cooking when he was 7 or 8, but the real eye-opener came when he saw “The Hundred-Foot Journey” – a movie about competing restaurants. in a French village.
“They made a really nice omelet, and until that year I was allergic to eggs, and I remember when I got home I really wanted to make a fancy egg dish,” he said. said Milan. “So I tried making an omelet for the first time, and my mom taught me. This is where I really started to perfect recipes rather than cooking every now and then.
From that moment on, Milan realized that cooking your own meals was the way to tailor foods to your preferences.
Ghosh said his son has always had a “very demanding palate”.
“I think he got into cooking because he knows what he wants to eat, and that’s really to satisfy his own very demanding way of eating,” she said.
Milan tightened its culinary muscles last Thanksgiving by making Beef Wellington. Her sister posted a 15-second video on her TikTok account, challenging celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to give her reaction. The Beef Wellington video has attracted over 2 million views.
The siblings then started making videos together on a regular basis. Milan will typically spend a day cooking a meal and Malaika will sporadically film photos of him in action, Ghosh said.
Later, Malaika puts the clips together into TikTok videos which are usually less than a minute long and provide narration. It can take up to 10 hours to produce a video, Ghosh said.
As of Tuesday, Milan and Malaika had produced more than 40 videos together, some with millions of page views. A video, released in May, shows Milan making meat-stuffed tortellini and has garnered more than 8 million pageviews.
The videos became so popular that representatives of “Top Chef” reached out to Milan to tell them about the show, he said.
“At first I thought it was a joke. I thought it was someone who bothered me. But he ended up being the real “Top Chef”. And I started the application process the same day and ended up going to Los Angeles to compete, ”he said.
Milan had to make the cut in several preliminary rounds before heading to Los Angeles as a runner-up. During the preliminary rounds, he broadcast his cooking skills to the judges on Zoom, Ghosh said. The filming in Los Angeles that followed took place among the last 13 contestants, she said.
Ghosh and Milan worked as a team on the show. She said the show kept strict COVID-19 protocols, which included keeping all contestants in the same hotel and testing everyone three or four times a week. Milan received his first shot of the vaccine during recording, as that was when it became available to teens her age, she said.
Due to a nondisclosure agreement, Milan and his mother are limited in what they can reveal about the show before it airs. But he said last week that he particularly enjoys having his food judged by celebrities, including Meghan Trainor, JoJo Siwa and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
He said being on the show was a once in a lifetime experience. “It’s something that only happens once in a lifetime,” he says.
Bhayana has already had a moment of glory. At 13, he took part in an international tournament for the Magic card game in Barcelona, as one of the youngest players to compete at the professional level.
He said last week that he still maintains his passion for the card game and enjoys teaching it to others.
Bhayana said her friends were all “super excited” for her TV appearance this week in “Top Chef Family Style”.
“They all watch the show religiously,” he said.
Dan Schere can be contacted at [email protected]