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Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Celebrity Chef

Monday, November 6, 2017, 12:28 Hrs  [IST]

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the celebrity Indian Chef, who was decorated with Padma Shree by the country last year, will be curating the Food Street, a Culinary Theatre, at the maiden World Food India 2017, a mega exhibition by Ministry of Food Processing Industries of the Government of India for the food and food processing sector of the country, scheduled between November 3 and 5, at India Gate lawns in New Delhi. At the curtain raiser of the World Food India event in Delhi, Chef Kapoor spoke to P Krishna Kumar. Excerpts:

Q What will be the Sanjeev Kapoor touch at the World Food India and especially at the Food Street that you are curating?
The Food Street and the Culinary Theatre at the Food Street will be one of its kinds. While I want you to keep guessing on the names, I can tell you that you will have world’s top Michelin Star Chefs at the culinary theatre at the show, along with top Indian chefs you can think of.

The endeavour is to impart and inculcate a sense of pride in Indian cuisines. For that we have to bring in a major transformation in our own mindset. We want, not just people in India and Indians settled outside India but, people all over the world to say with conviction that Indian food is incredible. Yes, we know that India has a fabulous culinary heritage. But, world doesn’t know about it. We haven’t been able to promote and market our food to outside world. When it comes to food, we don’t talk about many hidden treasures. If you talk about Super Foods, we have variety of them, which unfortunately is not known to the world. The Ragi Nachni Roti of Karnataka, Madra of Himachal are a few, which is not only tasty but healthy as well. Even in our Ayurveda, there are so many recipes. Yes, they are quite complex to crack, but induce healthy living. The idea is to make the world know about all these.

Q What do you think we need to do to make Indian food appealing to the world? Generally, chefs do some customisation when they introduce food to a new market. What are your views about it?
Customisation is a reality of life. However, Indian food repertoire is so vast that we need not worry too much about customisation to take it to the world. While other countries have very limited recipes, we have rich heritage of food. We have 50 to 100 dishes in every 100 kilometres. That is the kind of repertoire we have in our country. We can pick the dishes as per the demand and palate of a place and present it. Our range of cuisines is so vast that we need not worry too much about customisation.

Q There is a new initiative by FSSAI to create a digital repository of Indian cuisine. How World Food India can contribute to that?
World Food India is associating with all agencies associated with food in the country. Any initiative associated with food would succeed when all agencies and stakeholders join together. World Food India is not limited to processed food alone. The endeavour is to create a platform for all stakeholders of the food industry and take it to the standards of Anuga or SIAL and make India a ‘Food Destination’ of the world.

Q One of the objectives of World Food India is to reduce food wastage which happens at different levels through the farm to fork journey. As a celebrity chef who has been associated with many campaigns, how can you contribute to this cause, especially the wastage happening in hospitality industry?
Yes, of course, since I have the reach and appeal in the industry, I can use that goodwill for this cause as well in my own way. I also have my own food channel as well as communicate with the industry through different other channels on a daily basis. I can use all those platforms to create that awareness. I will definitely be embarking on that.

Q There was too much of resistance from restaurant industry when a Union Minister advocated smaller portion size in hotels and restaurants. However, even President of Worldchefs supported smaller portion size. What is your take on the issue?
We are a democracy and everybody has the right to air their views. The critical issue is reducing the wastage of food that is happening, which otherwise can be used to feed the hungry. The wastage has to be stopped. There may be differences of opinion on the ways to stop it. The Harvard Professor who got the Nobel for Economics this year has put forth the Theory of Nudging. Government has the right to nudge the industry. It is not necessary that government has to use strong-arm tactics to make the industry understand certain things. The theory of nudging can work here, that is what the Minister also tried. There is nothing wrong in it.

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