'I want Indian food to be No.1'

Career by accident
In my growing up years, I had this strange urge of doing what others didn’t want to. So when it came to choosing the career stream, I chose Hotel Management because my friends were opting for the more fashionable courses like ‘engineering’ or ‘medicine’. Thankfully, despite people’s skepticism towards cooking, my family stood by me. Of course, I had my share of struggles and tough times in the initial years. But looking ahead and beyond the expected helped me in exploring new avenues. Also, I did not shy from hard work which eventually helped me.

Global tastes for desi food
Indian cuisine has become hugely popular owing to globalisation, the number of Indians traveling abroad have increased, as also foreigners coming to India. Books, television and the internet have made the world smaller. Also, many Indian chefs settled abroad are creating waves in the global food industry and in the process popularising India and Indian cuisine. As for me, I have always said that I will not rest until I make Indian cuisine the number one cuisine in the world!

Pillars of strength
Besides standing by my every decision, my mom instilled in me her basic thought of ‘cooking with love’. Really, if you put your heart and soul into something, it has to turn out into a masterpiece. My wife Alyona is adept at multi-tasking, managing home, me, our kids, our families and friends as well as office, business partners and finance. She dons these multiple hats with finesse which is most admirable. If not for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. In short, I am blessed to have these two women who have been my pillars of love and support.

Inspiration idols
My parents were my inspirations to become a chef. When I stepped into the culinary world, my father was the only icon for me. He not only cooked brilliant food, but also educated me about the science behind food items. I also gained inspiration from the different cuisines and ayurveda scripts of ancient India as well as the books of KT Achaya and Harold McGee. I like all contemporary Indian chefs. On the international front, there are many like Rene Redzepi, Rachel Ray, Matt Moran, Masaharu Morimoto, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Olivier, Wolf Gang Puck, Yoshihiro Murata and Georges Blanc, who I like.

Jack of many trades
To be honest, I never thought I would do the cookery show Khana Khazana. Its success was followed by my restaurant, website, digital commerce, a television channel, food products and merchandising, none of these were planned activities.

Following in my footsteps
My elder daughter Rachita is studying law. She is a complete foodie who can easily distinguish between good and bad food. My younger daughter Kriti has just appeared for her 10th standard exams and is a national level athlete, she loves to bake. As for following in my footsteps, it’s too early to predict that. They will cross the bridge when the time comes and I will support them in their chosen profession.

Personal flavour
Ghar ka khana, kadhi chawal, rajma chawal or anything cooked at home is my favourite.

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