Ask anyone who has fallen in love with cooking in recent times or who inspired them, and most would name Chef Ranveer Brar. With over 1.5 million followers on his Instagram account alone, Brar is a social media celebrity unlike any other. The reason? He has successfully managed to do what few have. He has managed to re-establish the connection between food and food lovers. Even Bollywood celebs love him! On his popular show, You Got Chef’d!, Brar got together with a bevy of famous personalities to rustle up some incredible gourmet delights and paired them with highball cocktails. Arjun Kapoor, Pratik Gandhi, Tahira Kashyap and Rohan Joshi appeared on season 3 of the show. The chef spoke to us about his favourite movies, cooking with the stars, and enjoying quality time with family during the lockdown.
What kind of films did you enjoy growing up, and what impact did they have on you?
I belong to the Doordarshan era. I am sure many will resonate with me when I say anything on television was special, right to the regional language movies with subtitles on Sunday afternoons. I used to love watching Bengali movies by Satyajit Ray. Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne was my favourite, and I can watch it even now. Choices were limited, but life was simple and contented.
Many of our films depict food and our relationship with food like Cheeni Kum, Daawat-e-Ishq, etc. Are there any food movies that you have really enjoyed?
Ratatouille has to be a common favourite among most of us chefs! My personal favourites are — Julie & Julia, a Danish drama called Babette’s Feast, Big Night, Waitress and Burnt.
You interact with many celebrities on your show. Tell us about some of your favourite/special moments with them.
It was a fun experience, to say the least. After the hard times of the past year, it’s great to reconnect with people in person and cook in a different setting. One of the major reasons I agreed to host this show was that this season focused on whipping up popular global cuisines and pairing it with drams of easy-to-make and extra smooth highball cocktails. Furthermore, the show offers a virtual world tour with your favourite celebrities, meaning double the fun! Towards the end of the episode, mixologists and DEWAR’s brand ambassadors Greg and Myles would step in and throw a bar challenge at the celebrities, giving them a double challenge to prove their cooking capabilities.
All the celebrities that I cooked with in this season of You Got Chef’d! were super fun. For me, the special moments were when my guests shared their fondness for food, especially during their travel. Cooking with Arjun Kapoor was super memorable! For the cool hustler that he is, Arjun prepared a terrific Shepherd’s Pie all by himself, even though he claimed he didn’t know how to cook.
Why do you think people feel so connected with you and relate so much to your social media posts?
I call them my extended family and not without reason. Your social media audience builds only when they connect with you. I am quite trend-agnostic. I just put my head down and do what I do. Food, I believe, is a common connect for all of us. We have all grown up listening to stories, and we all have one or the other memory attached to a dish. I simply work on helping to re-establish that connection between food and food-lovers. That it has resonated with so many out there is truly heart-warming.
This was another reason why I agreed for You Got Chef’d! season 3. It exhibited a similar ethos. The show connects with food lovers and encourages individuals to try different cuisines, bringing out the chef in them.
During the lockdown, you managed to spend quality time with your family. How was it to bond with them over food?
One opportunity that this quarantine period gave me was cooking for my family. As someone who was travelling 75-80 per cent of the year, I got to re-discover the comfort of home food. More than comfort meals, it's about making the best use of limited resources. I have always believed that less is more, and it’s a principle that needs to be in force now more than ever.
Your mother and son also feature sometimes on your social media posts. How much do they enjoy being part of your digital fame?
Ishaan absolutely loves photo or video-bombing my content, and the audience loves it! Last year during the lockdown, I started a series of lives on my channel every day to keep people motivated and constructively occupied. Until Ishaan had had his cameo piece, he wouldn’t let me continue the live!
My mom has her own presence in my digital content. My videos during the lockdown were all shot in the home kitchen, and even though mom didn’t feature in those videos, everyone knew I was cooking in her territory and that the kitchen needed to be left just as immaculate as she likes it.
Is Ishaan fond of cooking, and does he lend you a hand in the kitchen?
I think food and cooking are excellent means of keeping kids engaged and to bond with them. Ishaan has his own set of kids cooking tools, and he knows what he wants to eat and how. I remember I was toasting cardamom for sevaiyan, and he had just got up. I heard him asking my mom if I was making kheer!
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