From Gurudwara langars to curating the menu for a cruise ship – at the age of 25, he is the youngest executive chef to have ever worked with a five-star hotel in India. He talks about food with the same childlike exuberance with which he cooks. Ranveer Brar, with his cult celebrity status and a conglomerate of restaurants and television shows under his name, has put India on the global culinary map. I had the opportunity of meeting Chef Brar aboard Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, and here are some excerpts from our interview discussing food, restaurants and the indulgent cruising experience.
Tell us a little about your journey – how Lucknow shaped you into the chef you are today?
For me, food has always represented an institution where learning never ceases. I had my first tryst with cooking at the langar. But my actual affinity towards cooking developed much later when I got exposed to Lucknow as a city. When I was older and started exploring the streets of Lucknow, the lanes, its food and folklore started unfolding before me. At that point, I got a taste of different sides of food and food connect, food history and food conversations as well. It opened up a completely new world of possibilities of what one could do with food. I had my first culinary tutelage under Munir Ustad, a skilled kebab vendor in Lucknow. I then completed my formal education from IHM Lucknow and began my career with the Taj Group of Hotels. I then went on to open several restaurants pan India and abroad.
Your very first stint with professional cooking was for a Gurudwara langar, at the age of 6. Tell us about that experience.
As a child, I was fascinated by the ‘buzz’ that happened in the communal kitchen, i.e the langar. The sheer volume of food being cooked by at least 50-60 people in that kitchen, turned out super delicious (without being tasted, since it was bhog) every single time made it extra special. It was also my earliest experience of cooking food in a large quantity. Cooking at the langar instilled in me the values of cooking selflessly and with emotion and definitely, the importance of a clean kitchen and hygiene in general.
From Gurudwara langars to curating the menu for a cruise ship – what are some of the keys things that've changed and some that have remained the same?