With his million dollar smile and affable attitude, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor has stolen many-a-heart with his tantalising delicacies served with his customary style. One of the biggest powerhouse in the world of flavours became a household name with his hit Indian TV show ‘Khana Khazana’ - the longest running cookery show in Asia which aired in 120 countries for around two decades and had over 500 million dedicated viewers.
Remind the master chef about his iconic show and he smiles fondly at the memory. “I believe 21 years of hosting was not too long. Through the show I wanted to make cooking and the art of serving food a celebration in itself. I gave the audience what they liked. Until then people presumed that cooking and working in the kitchen was a tedious routine activity. I believed otherwise and slowly the bandwagon grew.”
An avid traveller in the hunt of new and exciting flavours and always eager to add new flavours to his encyclopedic tastebud, Sanjeev has a special place for Kerala in his heart. “Kerala cuisine is synonymous with its fish curry delicacies. After landing in Kochi yesterday, I headed to the nearby toddy shop, Mullapanthal. Each item that I tried there was unique. The ‘karimeen pollichathu’ that I had there was cooked perfect and delicious. Surprisingly it was not oily either. Wherever I go, I believe in trying out the regional flavours.”
The chef extraordinaire is also an entrepreneur, his 36 books having sold an estimated 10 million copies around the world, his website receives 25 millions hits a month and he has his own 24-hour HD TV Channel completely dedicated to food. Ask him what prompted him to start the channel, he says, “Food was clear in my mind and regarding my understanding of our country we have three religions of entertainment - films, cricket and food. First two have been explored and exploited much but food still remained untouched. So I believed that the next big thing in entertainment will be food and thus ‘Food Food’ happened in 2011,” says the self-confessed foodie who was selected as one of the top five celebrity chefs in the world along with Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal and Wolf Gang Puck by CNN’s Richard Quest.
Of late, there is a surge of cookery reality shows on the telly. Quiz Kapoor on his take on the phenomenon and he says, “It was 15 years back that I did India’s first cookery reality show called ‘Kitchen Queen Show’. It did well but at that time the scale was smaller for a reality show of that sort. The only difference now is the scale has become much more grand. I agree that at times too much exposure is not good but right now the scene is just perfect.”
Sanjeev Kapoor is a celebrity judge on ‘MasterChef Season 3 - Kitchen ke Superstar’ and another forthcoming show titled ‘Sanjeev Kapoor Ke Kitchen Khiladi’ will soon start on Sony channel.
Sharing some nuggets about his success, he says, “cooking should be smart, easy and thoughtful. If you think cooking tough things is the key to impress folks then you are wrong. Degree of difficulty has nothing to do with cooking. Another important thing is cooking is a creation of new things. A dish becomes your signature dish only when you put your own innovation into it.”
India being a melting pot of thousands of cuisine cultures, is also known for welcoming the world cuisines. Ask the chef what is the ‘in’ thing in the multi-cuisine world, he says, “Our people are beginning to know more and more about international cuisines because of the growing exposure they get through extensive travelling. Though there is no particular cuisine that can be labelled as the next in thing but there is a clear indication of people going in for healthier foods and following good eating habits.”