A Web of talent

A new digital mentorship programme on YouTube aims to provide a platform to youngsters to showcase talent in food, fashion and music

What do renowned chef Nikhil Chib, musician duo Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj of MIDIval Punditz and designer Nikhil Thampi have in common? Talent, you'd say. But it doesn't just end there.

Nikhil Chib, Nikhil Thampi and Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj of MIDIval Punditz
Nikhil Chib, Nikhil Thampi and Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj of MIDIval Punditz 

The quartet are part of the new online talent hunt show, The Step Up on YouTube, which is tagged as 'India's first digital mentorship program'. Over the five-part webisode featuring three segments — food, fashion and music, Chib, owner and executive chef of Busaba, will hone the culinary skills of future chefs. Raina and Raj will mentor wannabe musicians and Thampi will show budding designers the ropes of the fashion industry.

For Chib, technique is crucial. He will go beyond imparting the basic knowledge of cooking, presentation and plating. It is the thorough understanding of flavours that go behind creating a great dish is what he wishes to teach participants. "Playing with flavours and integrating them into one dish, to be able to distinguish how each flavour can change the way we enjoy food… that's how great food is crafted," he says.

Raina and Raj clarify that they will not spoon-feed musicians on the show. Instead, they will inspire the mentees to create something original. "We have tasks — four core ones — over the four weeks of mentorship. These will range from recording live music to making remixes, but the all-important final task will be to make an entirely fresh piece of music.

We will also help them in understanding newer software used in the industry," says Raina. Raj adds that they staunchly support individuality, but it is also vital to be able to understand other artistes and musicians and collaborate with them successfully.

Thampi stresses that getting into the fashion industry entails creativity, inventiveness as well as hardcore business sense — values he would like to share with the participants. "In the first two weeks, I will introduce them to the business – learning about vendor mentality, accounting tactics, vigorous research on fabrics and the likes will be part of this segment.

The following week will be dedicated to a runway experience, and help them realise that the runway 'attitude' for the clothes is more risqué, compared to the versions needed in prep wear. I will have contestants create their private collection, expose them to the sales dynamics and how to manage orders. This will give them first-hand experience in 'running' the business," he says.

The webisodes will be released as digital content on the Internet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

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