Chef Ranveer Brar, who will co-judge the fourth season of the popular cookery show `MasterChef` India along with Chef Vikas Khanna and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is a humble, chirpy and happy-go-lucky fellow.
Apart from being a chef, he is also a television show host and a food stylist. His television shows include `Breakfast Xpress`, `Snack Attack`, `Homemade`, `The Great Indian Rasoi`, `Thank God It's Friday` and `Health Bhi Taste Bhi`.
Born in Lucknow, he got inspired from the street food in his hometown. Brar's restaurant in Boston, Banq, won numerous Awards, including the best new restaurant in the world by the magazine, Wallpaper. He also has the luck of cooking at the James Beard House, NY, of which he is an honorary member. He came back to the country in 2010 after having tasted success abroad.
His Indian restaurant, Kashmir, won the Best of Boston award in 2010. At present Ranveer is the Senior Executive Chef Novotel, Juhu Beach, Mumbai.
In an interview with Anindita Dev from Zee Media Corp, the 36-year-old chef talks about his expectations from MasterChef and much more.
Why did you decide to join Master Chef as a judge?
If you do television, you understand the power of expression that comes with it. For a chef entering television, there can be no better platform in India than Master Chef. It gives you the right kind of space for creativity and to freely express your thoughts.
How do you feel about this season of Master Chef going the vegetarian way?
My personal take is that as an Indian, and more importantly as a chef, every time I travel abroad I come across a lot of friends who are chefs by profession. We get the respect outside India because of our ability to experiment and create a variety of vegetarian delights. The whole concept of a vegetarian main course was alien outside of India. So, if there is any best place to bring vegetarian concept of food, then it would have to be Master Chef. Moreover, it is a competition. So it is a good twist to the show. A new challenge, a new change is always good in a show. And it is not as if Master Chef has turned vegetarian forever. It is just this season that it decided to go the vegetarian way.
How will this season be different from the rest?
This season is all about inclusiveness. We have included a lot more of India in this season. It is not about not cooking non-veg. There were a number of people who wouldn't have even cooked food in a kitchen where non-vegetarian was cooked. And that was the reason they couldn't join Master Chef. Now, a large number of people have turned up for this season. It will be a bigger representation of India.
What inspired you to become a Chef?
I grew up in Lucknow which is famous for its street food and kebabs. It was the street food and Lucknowi kebabs that inspired me. The culture of the varieties of food that I tasted as a child inspired me to be a cook.
The mindset of Indians towards chef as a 'profession' is changing now. What do you have to say?
Today, I have a voice. With fame comes the responsibility of what you say. If the country is watching you, there ought to be substance, something worthwhile to speak about. I am very happy how things have turned out for chefs now. From being called karigar and baawarchi to chef and celebrity chef. Chefs are allowed to express themselves in various ways and means. However, I also feel that right now we are still figuring out. More than media , public is understanding that being a chef is all about cooking and they connect with food. Also, people have started noticing the honour attached to being a celebrity chef. More than that it is the relationship that we share with food which is important.
If not a chef, what career would you have chosen?
If not a chef, I would have been a painter maybe. I have interest in painting and I do it well. I paint professionally even now.
Difference between the style of cooking of men and women?
Men are more mechanical when we cook. Women are more attached. They cook it with feelings. From personal experience. The feeling a female chef puts in the food places her way ahead of men chefs.
Who's your favourite Chef?
My personal favourite would be Charlie Trotter, who is no more. I was a big fan.
Your signature dish?
My signature dish would be Dora Kebab. It is my personal favourite. It is a type of Kebab cooked on a smoked silken thread.
What are your expectations from MasterChef?
I have traveled across India and I have done a lot of travel-based shows and food shows for Zee as well, but I never had the chance to taste the food cooked by an amateur. I have never had food cooked with feeling and love for food. In restaurants and travel shows, we have food made by professionals, and those who are in this field for generations.That is different. I am just expecting a great relation with the amateur cooks in the show who have been cooking at home because they love food and the connect that I develop with them is what I look forward to in MasterChef.