Minnesota cook who mastered Indian cuisine in the Midwest making run on 'MasterChef'

A Minnesota stay-at-home mom is heating things up in the kitchen on FOX’s hit TV show MasterChef this season.

Shari Mukherjee has advanced to the last nine of the reality cooking contest and will be competing Wednesday on FOX 9 at 7 p.m.

We caught up with the self-taught cook as she was whipping up a butter chicken and naan waffle lunch with the Indian flare that has made her a standout on this season of the FOX hit television show.

“This apron means everything to me," she says. "I mean, I have to say when I got this apron, it was probably a top five moment in my entire life. I felt I had proven myself."

Shari has an incredible backstory. She is originally from tiny Millville, Minnesota, a city with a population of less than 200, and married her husband from India.

The couple now raising two young children in Rochester.

"I really am a Minnesota girl, born and raised here," she says. "Very Midwestern. I didn’t grow up eating fancy foods by any means."

Ten years ago, Shari barely knew how to cook and her in-laws worried their son would eat only salads and boiled chicken after the couple got married. So Shari buckled down and taught herself to master authentic Indian cuisine.

An open casting call in Minneapolis last fall for Gordon Ramsey’s show, where home cooks from across the country battle for the title of MasterChef, led to the experience of a lifetime.

"I just went into it with 'I’m going to be myself.' If they like me, awesome. If I make it, awesome. If I don’t, it’s ok. I knew if I got on the show, it would throw my life into a whirlwind. I’m a stay-at-home mom. What do I do with my kids? What happens? I was going to be happy either way. I just wanted to try out."

The show has already been shot and Shari is sworn to secrecy about how she did. Contestants are battling it out for $250,000. The show airs Wednesday and then there is an elimination round on Thursday.