Chef Ranveer Brar on his newly launched food app, culinary journey and importance of a balanced diet
Chef Ranveer Brar speaks to Firstpost about the conceptualisation and future of his latest food app, his style of cooking and word of advice to the emerging culinary explorers.
The app is a culmination of Chef Ranveer Brar's more than 20 years of culinary experience and innovation, by bringing more than a thousand recipes personally curated by him.
Hyperlocal, eating seasonal, exploring regional and sub-regional cuisines are the trends that the Brar sees staying strong in the foreseeable future.
Brar's advice to budding chefs: Always stick to the basics. Having a good knowledge of food science and its application to cooking is the best way to go about it.
In today's day and age when virtual has become the new 'real', courtesy social media, it is rather challenging to devise something that matches the specifications of the virtual world and, at the same time, hinges on the experiences of the real one. More so, when it comes to a digital application that concerns food! How can one possibly discern what looks good and what tastes good by a mere look or read?
Celebrated chef Ranveer Brar has somehow tried to bridge this gap with his latest mobile app, named after him — Ranveer Brar App. The app is a culmination of Brar's more than 20 years of culinary experience and innovation, by bringing more than a thousand recipes personally curated by the chef himself. It wouldn't be wrong to say that the app is more than just a repository of culinary delights.
The app offers the user a number of features that provide a variety of recipes ranging from regional food to street food to even homemade food. It also helps one to custom select recipes if one suffers from certain allergies. In addition to that, it caters to the regular nutrition regime of people who prefer eating right to working out vigorously.
Born in Lucknow in a Sikh family and an IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) alumnus, Brar's celebrated culinary skills and experience results from his various travels across the country and abroad. Most of his TV shows like Food Tripping, Raja Rasoi Aur Andaaz Anokha, Thank God It's Fryday are a testimony to his travel-inspired cooking style.
Ranveer Brar App was launched in Mumbai on 15 April where the chef presented a lunch platter which featured an eclectic mix of recipes from his repertoire. Brar, in an email conversation with Firstpost, talked about the conceptualisation and future of the app, his style of cooking and word of advice to the emerging culinary explorers. Below are excerpts from the interview:
What was the idea behind developing this app?
For me, sharing my food journey with the world at large has been as important as interpreting my experiences on the plate. With the focus shifting more and more to the digital space, an app was indeed the next important step. The idea was to not just create a repository for recipes but to make it a one-stop kitchen-buddy and holistic food guide as well. The Hungama team was equally excited about the concept and then there was no looking back!
What was the selection criteria like — in regards to various recipes that feature in the app?
The selection criteria, essentially, were the recipes that I have cooked — be it in my restaurants, my career, in my TV-shows or in my home — or the recipes that my family has cooked. I did not want to put up recipes which were not cooked by me, because I cannot vouch for it.
Do you think today's generation has become far more concerned about their eating habits than ever before?
More than just healthy food, I feel the present trend is to focus on overall well-being, which I find very encouraging. If you refer to our old manuscripts and eating guidelines or what our ancestors ate, the emphasis has been on eating a balanced diet that includes a bit of everything that the body needs, rather than the lack of anything. So, that’s the thought pattern we are slowly but surely shifting back to.
The food delivery services and diet apps are a rage today, how and where does your app fit in? Who is the target audience?
Well, the idea is to eventually tie in with a food delivery service, and the app. So there are two opportunities that we are looking at. The biggest opportunity I think we have is the weekly grocery delivered to your home, and then two days of fresh produce delivered through the app in advance. We are tying up with a third party to ensure that concept can be plugged in as an interface in our app.
How does technology and food blend as a concept? Can they complement each other in any way?
I think technology and food can blend seamlessly as a concept because over the years we have learned that everything has come onto the phone — our food’s getting delivered by ordering it on the phone. Everything is becoming more and more seamless and more on the phone. Hence, I strongly believe that technology is making food recipes, food people and the entire food ecosystem more accessible.
How much has the social media boom helped the food and hospitality industry?
Well, I think, I always tell people that compared to my times and the present social media times and I’ve come to realise that the entry level barrier is extremely low now, which allows everybody to express themselves, if not on television then definitely via other mediums such as Facebook and YouTube which I find very exciting. There will always be a gap on how food looks and how it actually tastes because you know unlike music or dance or any other art form where you can see or hear and judge, here you can’t see and judge; you got to taste and judge. That eventual judgment will always be based on how the food tastes.
How much has travel been a part of your culinary journey?
Tracing my culinary journey, starting from Lucknow, to Delhi, Goa, Boston and back, there has been an influence of so many cultures on my thinking as a chef and a person and that it, in turn, is what I interpret on to the plate. Travelling is something I still enjoy, be it as part of a show shoot or my personal itineraries. There’s always a takeaway in terms of the local food and also the people I meet, who in turn have their own interpretations of cuisines. What I create is a reflection of what I experience.
Are indigenous flavours, ingredients making a comeback to the palates of the fast-food-munching generation?
Absolutely. Hyperlocal, eating seasonal, exploring regional and sub-regional cuisines are all trends that I see staying strong in the foreseeable future. No matter how far we go, we always end up coming back to our roots, and the culinary scene is no different. There is a growing awareness and interest that encourages revisiting [to the practices of the past] along with innovation of heirloom recipes and ingredients, especially indigenous grains and seeds, such as millets.
When you devise a new recipe what are the things that you look out for? Apart from the basic ingredient itself, do you also like to incorporate the local histories and flavours of that place?
I will not cook a dish if I don’t understand the cultural relevance to it, or the history of it, or the story of it or if I’ve not had it or experienced it there. I think cooking a dish in isolation, creating a recipe in insolation is not what I would like to do now when I am 42. I would like to look at the bigger picture where the recipe is six individual pictures. I ’d like to look and understand how and where to take the culture and the food equation.
Your advice to emerging chefs and food explorers?
To chefs, professional or home-based: Always stick to the basics. Having a good knowledge of food science and its application to cooking is the best way to go about it. This is something that’s ingrained especially in the Indian cuisine, so there’s a lot we can learn from even our regional and seasonal recipes.
To food explorers: Street food is a great way to explore and understand the cuisine and culture of any place. It’s a good idea to connect with the locals (the online peer groups are a blessing) revisit places, and also older establishments and how they have witnessed culinary evolution around them. Above all, have an open-minded approach when you sample any new cuisine.
Ranveer Brar App is live and available for download on Android and iOS.
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