The man, the legend, the chef – Sanjeev Kapoor has inspired millions of Indians, male and female alike to explore their kitchen’s spice khazana (treasure), and turn their cooking into a beautiful art form as well as a healthy bite. He shares his journey into the world of mouth watering delicacies.
India’s celebrity chef may today be the Man of the Kitchen but it wasn’t his childhood dream to pursue cooking. The opportunity fell on him when he was pushed towards it. Sanjeev explains, “On a friend’s behest, I applied for Hotel Management. I got a call from the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) Pusa, Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition, New Delhi, finished the admission formalities and then began my beautiful journey!” During his college years, Sanjeev would have never guessed that he would excel so tremendously in cooking. In fact he had another vastly different profession in mind. “I was actually planning to get into architecture!”, says this world renowned chef.
Employed at numerous hotels, Sanjeev worked his way up to the status of chef. And after an established stint as a chef, he was appointed Executive Chef at the Centaur Hotel in Mumbai. It was here that something serendipitous happened: The birth of Khana Khazana. Those were the days when cable TV was all the rage, and producers were experimenting with shows. “Khana Khazana happened during my tenure in Centaur. I was approached by a radio producer from Fiji to host a TV show for an upcoming TV channel, India’s first cable channel – Zee Network.”, says Sanjeev, recalling the phenomenal start of his illustrious career.
While Sanjeev remembers those days fondly, he also recalls the many bumps along the road. “The cookery show was tentatively called ‘Shriman Bawarchi’, which I just couldn’t relate to and actually refused to come on board if the name wasn’t changed. Besides that the production house insisted on having a female hostess standing next to me while I was cooking, which again, I found to be a big deterrent to my cooking and connect with the audience.” As the producers persisted, Sanjeev came up with the catchy name, and concept that led to Khana Khazana being the longest running show in Asia. He explains, “Khana Khazana took birth in 1993 and went on to become the most successful cookery show on Zee TV from India with an estimated viewership of over 500 million people in about 167 countries running non-stop on TV for more than 17 years!”
Khana Khazana took birth in 1993 and went on to become the most successful cookery show on Zee TV from India with an estimated viewership of over 500 million people in about 167 countries running non-stop on TV for more than 17 years!”
During the early years of the 90’s, experimentation was at its epitome, and Sanjeev Kapoor was equally unconventional when it came to traditional Indian cuisines. So, when asked about this experimentation with cooking, Sanjeev says, “Cooking is the perfect combination of science and art. What you finally see, smell and eat is art, but behind putting that art on a plate lies plenty of science.”
Cooking is the perfect combination of science and art. What you finally see, smell and eat is art, but behind putting that art on a plate lies plenty of science.”
Having inspired many male cooks all over the world, especially in India, he boldly challenged the stereotype that existed in the 90’s, “When I took up the title of being a television chef, which may seem totally mainstream right now, but 20 years back was unheard off – being a man in what was perceived as a woman’s world was tough.”, says Sanjeev.
This award-winning chef is steadily working towards the goal of making Indian cuisine number 1 in the entire world. For now Sanjeev has a lot on his plate: his book and restaurants, while also working on some initiatives in collaboration with the government. Speaking of what lies ahead, he says, “As for specific opportunities, I do have something up my sleeve which you will just have to wait and watch. Surprises are great, aren’t they?”
With all the experience this legendary chef of India has, he advises all those who love cooking, saying, “Working in a professional kitchen is not easy, but extremely satisfying if you love cooking.”
Bold and refreshingly out of the box, Sanjeev Kapoor is one who has been the dream man in every woman’s kitchen, while being equally inspiring to male cooks to challenge the stereotypes related to cooking.