Master of spices
At the age of 25, he was the youngest executive chef to manage the kitchens of a five-star establishment in India. Within a decade, he opened a restaurant in the United States, hosted a television show and is now the fourth season judge of Masterchef India, along with culinary personalities like Sanjeev Kapoor and Bikash Khanna. “I haven’t written a book yet,” Brar said bluntly.
For Brar – who replaced Chef Kunal Kapoor as one of the judges on the show – success did not come easily. Despite coming from a well-to-do family, he decided at the age of 16 to work in a small kitchen in a kebab shop in his hometown of Lucknow. “These guys keep secrets about their ingredients and spices. Munir Ahmed, the owner of the stall, let me into his kitchen. He would take me to the market to buy spices and grind them, but when it came to mixing spices with meat, he would drive me away, ”reminds Brar, who got his call in the perfume in the charcoal smoke. Meat on skewers.
Brar’s parents wanted him to become a doctor, or an engineer, or join the armed forces, but he was determined. “After failing to convince them, I decided to run away from home. I was with a friend until they were forced to come closer, ”said Brar, who then graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) in Lucknow.
The chef’s culinary adventure began with the Taj Group in Delhi on the 22nd, where he had the privilege of working with the opening team of three of the hotel’s restaurants – Cafe Fontana, Machan and Ricks. This was followed by a stent at the Taj’s Goa property and Radisson Blu in Noida. Ironically, these five-star kitchens kept him away from real cooking. “I missed bringing up culinary creations,” said Brar, who loves to draw and sculpt in his spare time. After a call from friends who started a restaurant in Boston, USA, Brar packed his bags and moved in 2006. “We opened a French-Asian restaurant called Bank, which was in a beautiful old bank building. It won many awards and accolades until the recession hit us in 2009, ”he said. In addition to her business problems, Brar heard that her father had cancer. “It was a downward spiral for me. Suddenly, I realized that everything was out of our control and everything could go wrong, ”Brar added.
When Brar returned to India to take care of his father, the Indian culinary scene was undergoing rapid change. Dedicated television channels for food were introduced and restaurants were willing to experiment with cuisine. “People in India saw food as an industry, not a job,” he said. Brar G Khana Khazana – was able to cash in on Boom with five shows on Snack Attack, Home Made, Breakfast Express, Health V Test V and The Great Indian Kitchen.
Of these, The Great Indian Chef has influenced him the most. “It connected me to real people and their connection to food. For example, I met a 60-year-old Vishnu woman in Jodhpur who was evicted from her village because she was a widow. He has raised his family by cooking in a kindergarten, ”he added. Brar explored culinary traditions across the length and breadth of the country while cooking a langar meal at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and distributing fresh-baked bread in South Goa.
With MasterChef India, airing January 26, Brar is ready to embrace bouquets and brickbats. “With the new vegetarian twist, it will be interesting to see how the competitors innovate The competition is not only about cooking skills, it also tests one’s aptitude and mood, ”he said.