'To be a turbaned Sikh walking the red carpet is a responsibility I do not take lightly': Mumbai chef Sanjyot Keer at Cannes 2024

19 May,2024 02:40 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Nascimento Pinto

In an exclusive interview with mid-day.com from Cannes in France, Mumbai chef Sanjyot Keer talks about his experience at Cannes 2024 film festival and local food he is relishing while there. He also dwells on the importance of cultural representation and wearing the turban on the global stage

Mumbai chef Sanjyot Keer, popularly known for his channel `Your Food Lab` is currently in France attending the Cannes film festival. Photo Courtesy: Special Arrangement

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Mumbai chef Sanjyot Keer has walked the red carpet at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival with several other Indians this year. Interestingly, he happens to be only the second chef after celebrity chef Vikas Khanna to do it, and that too in style as he was styled by celebrity stylist Eka Lakhani, with his outfit designed by Rachit Ajmera.

For Keer, who is known for his channel ‘Your Food Lab' on Instagram and YouTube, amassing around 9 million followers on social media, this platform is more than just showing up. Being a chef and creating engaging content about food, we all know how food tells the stories of different cultures and Keer has kept at it over time and even cooked Misal Pav with Ed Sheeran when he was in India. More importantly, Sanjyot produced an award-winning short film 'Before We Die' that brings to light the dire water crisis in the interiors of Maharashtra. It even won the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

With Keer in France, mid-day.com spoke to him about his experience spending time in Cannes at the film festival and exploring local food. He also talks about the importance of representing his culture and wearing the turban proudly in a foreign land.

What has your experience been like at the Cannes film festival? What are some of the favourite dishes that you have tried there that you haven't tried before?
My experience has been incredible so far. I'm just soaking in the culture, the glamour, the fashion, the art, and the food of the beautiful town.
Yes, I tried some Cannes specialities from in and around the region. There is a dish served called Bouillabaisse, which is a traditional Provençal fish stew. Bouillabaisse typically includes various types of fish such as scorpionfish, sea robin, and European conger, along with shellfish and other seafood, all simmered in a broth flavoured with garlic, saffron, fennel, and tomatoes. It is traditionally served with a side of rouille, a garlic and saffron mayonnaise, spread on grilled slices of baguette.

Another dish is Pissaladière which is a dish from Nice which is close by but is consumed widely in Cannes. It's a type of tart or flatbread topped with caramelised onions, olives, and anchovies. The base is similar to pizza dough but thicker and fluffier.

I also tried Socca, which is very similar to our Indian besan ka puda but with a different texture. It is a crisp chickpea pancake which is cooked in a wood fired oven like how pizza is cooked. It's a favourite street food here in Cannes.

I am always surprised how food sometimes crosses paths and is sometimes similar yet different in regions across the world and I always learn so much while traveling.

SEE PHOTOS: Cheese Chilli Toast to Masala Pasta: Mumbai chef Sanjyot Keer at Cannes 2024

Are you inspired to try making a fusion dish out of it now?
Definitely. I pick a lot of ideas when I travel and love to incorporate them in my cooking. I would love to create a few of these classics with a touch of my creativity, once I am back.

What role do you think cultural representation holds at an international festival by wearing the turban?
Wearing the turban is a part of my culture and identity. It holds a lot of significance to where I come from, and my roots. I wear it with a lot of honour and pride. While this festival is a melting pot of different cultures, representing my culture on a global stage like this brings me immense joy. To be a turbaned Sikh walking the red carpet is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I want to keep paving the path for my community to the best possible capabilities.

Fashionably, how do you choose your turbans and when do you usually wear it?
Personally, I don't think the turban is a fashion accessory. The turban is a part of me. I strongly believe it makes me stand out amongst the crowd and I am not ever afraid to wear it with pride.

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