“I have been teaching for such a long time... since I started working,” notes Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the original Khaana Khazana and your ma and or grandma’s favourite culinary role model. “And about 10 years ago, I thought of setting up a proper culinary school. I spoke to many people, but most of all Symbiosis, which suggested setting up a distance-learning course.
Back then, I said it was not feasible.” While the work began five years ago, Kapoor mentions it was three years ago that the Symbiosis School of Culinary Arts finally opened. It entailed a course that covered the entire gamut of gastronomy and its business. “As the lockdown happened, we realised more and more things were moving online, and we also pivoted towards that direction.
We were trying to figure out how, when one of the directors who used to be in our company suggested tying up with an online platform.” And so, Sanjeevkapooracademy. com was launched. “We launched three courses: one, on how to start a food business from home serving restaurant style food; two, starting a food business with home-style food; and three, a course on immunity foods,” shares Kapoor, adding, “As you and I speak, we are in the process of launching more courses, given the amazing response to what we have already done.
Many people are launching online learning modules, so we are trying to understand what works and how and why it does. We are also exploring leadership courses in our particular field and so these new courses are going to launch on other platforms,” the chef explains. More than 25,000 people have joined Sanjeevkapooracademy. com in the iteration it is now.
Quizzed about attaching his name to the academy, Kapoor says, “Once your name is involved in a product, it brings many things with it. It’s not just the good things that people are joining because of you; that goes without saying. There are also those expectations of quality, which we give. But if a person is opening a value restaurant, and not a premium one, and someone orders a tandoori roti, just because it is a premium restaurant doesn’t mean you are coating the same tandoori roti in diamonds, which a value restaurant won’t be able to do.”
And he continues this teaching even as I criticise my own learning in culinary school. Responding to my complaint about how we were taught more about economics than culinaria in my particular school, he reminds us, “Just because you cook really well and people tell you to open your own restaurant, does not mean you are going to be a success. You need to learn costing, margins, ordering, and so much more. It needs to be a balance of art and finance.” Yes chef !