Joyeeta Ray catches up with India’s most popular celebrity Chef, entrepreneur of culinary-based enterprises and host of the longest running Asian cooking show “Khana Khazana”, in his swanky dining space Khazana, in Brampton, that is already nominated for the 2016 Top Choice award shortly after its inception.
You will find him in most Indian homes. Sometimes he is smiling at you from the cover of cookbooks. Sometimes he is hosting cooking shows on television. Sometimes he is the inspiration behind the finger-licking delicacies brought before you. Wherever you find him, he leaves an indelible impression.
It’s not just his easy demeanour that makes you feel you’ve known him all your life, even if you’ve just met him. Or the way he holds his own in a room full of global achievers. Or the way he makes the most complex culinary creations seem as easy as whipping up an omelette. It is his simplicity and humility that usually comes from growing up in a home with high values.
His exclusive need to be different is another factor. Each dish carries his signature. Be it in the way it’s artfully served, in its unique blend of ingredients or its taste that makes your taste-buds sing in ecstasy.
Over an exquisite selection of appetizers, main course and dessert aesthetically served in an elegant ambiance, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor feeds my curiosity.
SSZee Media: Welcome to Canada and congratulations on your new Khazana fine dining restaurant in Brampton. You have several restaurants across the world. What took you so long to come to Canada?
Sanjeev Kapoor: For opening a restaurant anywhere in the world, there’s a lot that has to be researched, developed and logistically taken care of. Besides this everything happens when the time is right. And going by these things, it does take a little time. It doesn’t matter how much time I took to come here. What matters is that I’m here to stay!
SSZEE: You are famous for your unique infusions, taking well known delicacies to another level. How is Khazana different from traditional Indian restaurants?
SK: In the restaurant scenario, the tradition is to marry the contemporary. I’m sorry to say that most of the restaurants serving Indian food in North America, barring a few, have not been updating and upgrading themselves. Khazana has tried to fill that gap and vaccum.
SSZEE: Do you plan to open branches of Khazana elsewhere in the country?
SK: Yes, of course, why not! Infact, I’m already working towards it.
SSZEE: On TV shows and Masterchef India, you encourage and propagate a lot of lesser known, regional Indian cuisine. Have you followed that through with Khazana as well?
SK: Absolutely! When I said contemporary Indian food marrying traditional offerings, I meant exactly that. We are less of fusion and more of regional Indian cuisine showcasing the best from India, and not just limited to North Indian Punjabi food.
SSZEE: Where did your love for cooking come from? Were you active in the kitchen as a child?
SK: The love for cooking was certainly passed onto me by my family – my mother, late father and brother, all were doing their bit. I’ve been pretty active in the kitchen since my childhood. I certainly did start early! My parents were my role model.
SSZEE: Who owns the kitchen in your home?
SK: Leaving me sometimes, it has to be my wife, Alyona!
SSZEE: How old are your children? Have they inherited your cooking skills?
SK: The elder one, Rachita is 21 and the younger one, Kriti is 18. Both have an avid interest in cooking.
SSZEE: You are a Celebrity Masterchef, an entrepreneur, TV Show Host of “Khana Khazana” which is one of the longest running culinary shows in Asia, broadcast in 120 countries; as well as associated with the 24/7 TV channel FoodFood. You have won several prestigious awards and the author of best-selling books that have sold over 10 million copies worldwide. What else is left for you to achieve? Do you have plans to introduce a “Sanjeev Kapoor Culinary Academy”?
SK: It’s just the beginning! There’s a lot more to come! As far as the culinary academy is concerned, that will happen too in the second stage of this restaurant cycle. We would like to share our knowledge with cooking enthusiasts from this part of the world as well and in the process I’m sure the learning will be mutual.
SSZEE: Now that you have a base in Canada, how often can we expect to see you here?
SK: I’m just an invite away. I love this country and I always take back sweet memories from here. Plus, there are talks for more restaurants. So, it would be fair to assume that I’ll be seen more often.
Interview was conducted by Joyeeta Dutta Ray for SSZee Media
Joyeeta Dutta Ray is the Editor in Chief for SSZee Media, where she brings her multiple interests and multi-country experience to the enterprising portal, that is based in London, Mumbai, Toronto and Los Angeles. She is also an advertising consultant, published author and blogger, currently residing in Toronto, Canada.