Jagmeeta Thind Joy
“It’s always a great feeling to be back in Punjab. Incidentally, I spent a few days in Chandigarh last month for my brother’s wedding,” said celebrity Ranveer Brar as he arrived at Hotel Park Plaza in Zirakpur. When you live far away from your roots, the feeling of a home run is indeed special. No one knows that better than Brar who comes calling to the city to conduct a live seafood recipe workshop for city-based hoteliers, restaurateurs and caterers organised by Gadre, a manufacturer of premium seafood and India’s first and only Surimi (fish paste) manufacturer.
“The processed seafood space in India is growing exponentially and Punjab is a huge consumer,” remarked the chef who has been roped in by Gadre to innovate with recipes using seafood. Interestingly, this association with seafood has come a full circle for Brar who started his career in 1999 with a seafood restaurant in Goa. “I spent a lot of time researching recipes and also understanding seafood. It has been an intrinsic part of my cooking now,” shared the celebrated chef, who has a string of television shows to his credit. He is currently hosting Season 3 of ‘Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha’ on Epic Channel.
“Today convenience in cooking is a lifestyle but be it homechefs or professionals, everyone’s still keen to give dishes a personalised look and feel. Unlike the West, we don’t take to packaged food as it is, we look at using it and giving it our own special spin,” says Brar. And that’s where he steps in. At the workshop Brar, cooked and shared recipes of Amritsari crab fingers with corn chutney, Fish kebab and lobster bites, Kadhai pakoda made using seafood. “Today cooking and healthy cooking are not two distant terms. We all love to rustle up special meals but at the same time are looking to reduce not just our cooking time but calories too,” said the chef who dishes out equally thoughtful shows on television like Thank God It’s Fryday, Breakfast Xpress, Homemade and the one that has got him a growing fan base – The Great Indian Rasoi.
Featuring secrets hidden in traditional kitchens, The Great Indian Rasoi introduces one to the real heroes of the culinary world – the rasoiyas, the khansamas and chefs who are keeping long lost recipes alive. Curated by Brar, it’s a show that is also close to his heart. Much has to do with the fact that Brar started his culinary journey as an apprentice with Ustad Munir Ahmed, Lucknow’s legendary street kebab vendor. “Today, chefs are rockstars. There is so much appreciation for the profession but youngsters need to know that first one has to be a good chef and the celebrity status, if at all, comes much, much later,” says Brar.
Interestingly for him, 2016 is going to be a “treadmill year”. “I have opened a restaurant in Delhi and I am set to open restaurants in Mumbai, Bangalore and Boston. I have two travel shows coming up including one in Australia,” lists Brar who is all set to release his book, Come Cook With Me (Harper Collins) in May. “It is a semi-biography and will also have a compilation of recipes,” shares the chef who is also looking forward to a meal at the world acclaimed restaurant Noma soon. “I am lucky that when I am in Australia in March, Noma is doing a pop up restaurant and I have been wanting to try their food for long,” he sums up but not before sharing his secret to staying fit – green tea.
(This article first appeared in The Indian Express)