Ranveer Brar is a celebrity chef, TV show host, judge, and food stylist. He has also judged MasterChef India, alongside fellow chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and Vikas Khanna. He also became the youngest executive chef of his time in the country at the age of 25. In this exclusive interview with acadman.in Ranveer has shared his experiences at IHM Lucknow and Hospitality Industry.
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How did your interest came into Hotel Management?
It was at the age of fifteen when I decided that food was my true calling and to pursue it professionally. Before that I was acquainting myself with food, being it cooking at the langar or exploring the street foods of Lucknow or having conversations with the local grocer.
Munir Ustad was my first mentor when it came to culinary training. There is much I learnt from him, the concept of Tahseer, correct mixing of spices, cooking techniques and so on. After about 6 months, I realised I needed more formal training. My parents agreed to my decision too and I joined IHM, Lucknow.
What was your family reaction when you decided to pursue a career in it?
Coming from a family of landlords, the initial reaction was certainly not favourable. They preferred me to opt for more traditional occupations. But after seeing my intent to pursue my passion they understood and agreed.
Could you please give us an overview of your life at IHM – Lucknow?
I was fascinated to be there, eager to learn, to get my hands on everything ‘food’. To me, it was not about studying to clear the exams. I devoured the books available, spent time understanding the basics, the hands-on practical sessions were my favorite. With all that in place, getting through the examinations was a breeze. The key is to really love what you are doing.
How beneficial is it to have a degree in Hotel Management to become successful?
Your passion to pursue something becomes the basis for studying and pursuing it in depth, both in studies and life. That’s definitely the first rung of the ladder. Add to that, expert guidance, formalized training, theoretical understanding and hands-on experience, that becomes a whole package for you. What you then take away from the institution is what will determine your future course in life.
How did your interest come into cooking?
Food to me has always been this institution where learning never ceases. From cooking at the langar at a young age to exploring food on the streets of Lucknow, food has touched me in different ways. But it was when I cooked Rajma for the first time for mom and it earned plaudits from my father, that quite sealed the deal for me!
You became an executive chef at a very young age, 25. How did this happen?
I remembered one mantra from Munir Ustad – “To be a big person, learn to do the smallest jobs with love.” No job was too small, I was hungry to learn, to succeed. After joining the Taj group I quickly moved up the ranks, opened restaurants in Goa which were the biggest challenge for me at that time. I didn’t take a single day off throughout my stint at Goa. Then back to Delhi in 2003, I joined Radisson Blu Noida as the Executive chef, youngest in India at the time and with a reputation of a specialist in opening restaurants.
Which was your first job? How did you get there? How were your experiences there?
My first stint was with the Taj group of hotels, as a Junior Chef de Partie. I joined the Taj management Training programme through campus placement. After working with Munir Ustad I knew that putting my nose to the grindstone was the way to go, no shortcuts.
Do you recall any memorable incident from your first job?
That would be when I first met the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. I was a trainee then and felt like a glamour-smitten kid!
Which skills are required to become a good chef?
It is important to master the basics, remember and apply them throughout. To innovate with food one needs to have a thorough understanding of the techniques, the interplay of ingredients, their effects on each other, reaction to the cooking process or different stages of cooking and so on.
Please tell us about your specialties?
Let’s call it the food for love. I love cooking food from Awadh, also Mediterranean, specially dishes from Southern Italian cuisine. And yes, cooking desserts based on chocolate fascinate me!
You have a vast experience of working in the hotel industry. You have also hosted and judged different TV shows. Which time do you consider as the best experience of your life?
The entire time that I have spent with food has been a great experience! As a chef, I get the opportunity to envision the food and interpret that on a plate. The medium of television allows me to reach out to a larger audience, whom I cannot see or interact with directly, but am still able to establish a connection at a much deeper level.
For all the Hotel Management students, Ranveer Brar is a role model. Who is your role model and why?
Several, from my Biji, to Munir Ustad to almost every chef I meet, each has his/her own experience and interesting food stories to add. On a specific note though and on a global scale, I have looked up to Chefs Heston Blumenthal and Charlie Trotter.
Generally in our society, especially in small towns, a career in Hotel Management is not considered respectful. How do you look at it?
Hotel Management careers are way more respectable now than when I started. Especially at a time when we are promoting ‘Skill India’, and skill is the most important aspect of anything, including one’s personal growth. Hotel schools are skill schools, it’s not just kitchen or cooking skills that one picks up, you pick up life skills. So I strongly believe that hotel management students can never fail in any field. What one learns here, if learnt right, can become a stepping stone for any alternate career.
What message would you like to give to the parents who don’t want their kids to pursue Hotel Management?
The message I wish to give them is that this is the fastest growing industry in the country. It’s also one of the most paying and challenging fields of occupation. So if you wish your children to be successful and feel accomplished after facing genuine pressures, this is the field to be in. This is the industry for winners.
What would be your message to the students of Hotel Management across India?
Again, stick to the basics, the most important point to remember and you can never go wrong.