Celebrity chef Ranveer Brar has announced that the new season of the reality show “MasterChef India” aims to highlight the diversity of India through its microcuisines.
Brar, who is returning as one of the judges for season eight, said that the show will offer a platform to chefs hailing from small towns and villages across various regions of the country.
“As food people, we always feel microcuisines and microcultures are becoming a big focus of conversation. And to represent that, we need home cooks of that region. When we start a season, we have conversations about microcuisines and microcultures, and we look for cuisines that need to be highlighted.
“Like, we have a home cook from Chalsa, a small village in West Bengal, one home cook from Kuri, a small village in Rajasthan’s Bhopalgarh, one from a small village in Meghalaya. So, the idea is that we want to celebrate this microcuisine through them,” the Lucknow-born chef said.
The competitive cooking series, which premiered on SonyLIV on October 16, also features Vikas Khanna and Pooja Dhingra as celebrity chefs. Dhingra has replaced chef Garima Arora this season. Khanna, the Michelin star chef, believes contestants coming to the show from smaller towns represent the change in the field of culinary arts in India.
“We know Kashmiri cuisine but on the show there’s a girl from Pampore (Kashmir) making her dishes, which are almost forgotten recipes. So, for us, every day is a learning experience. They become the instrument of change and we become the platform. We absolutely love it,” he said.
“This time our diversity is to an extreme because the reach of the show is so wide that you will see people coming from states and cities from where people have never come,” he added.
The 12 participants will be trained and transformed into culinary geniuses by the three judges of “MasterChef India”.
The programme has an impressive roster of celebrity chefs who will present challenges to the contestants.
Brar said he was amazed to see how serious home cooks were about pursuing a career as chefs in India today. “India sees the opportunity of ‘MasterChef’ as a big platform and hence you see home cooks have more drive and will to succeed. That’s the biggest difference between earlier and this season,” he added.
Khanna, also a restaurateur, a cookbook writer, and a filmmaker, said his connection to “food” has remained constant despite wearing several hats as a professional.
“Nothing celebrates a culture like food and for me, that’s the core element. For almost 25 years I’ve lived in New York and the only thing which connects me to people there is how I bring stories of Indian cuisine and culture. That relationship doesn’t change.”
He added, “The form may change, from restaurant to books to cafes to social media, but the core doesn’t change. Hopefully, till I retire, that relationship remains the same.”
Brar believes he has a “personal” relationship with food and it is a mode of expression for him.
“Whether I’m happy or sad, I’ll always go to the kitchen, and whatever I have learned along the way, I express myself. If people connect to it, I feel lucky. The extension of this relationship is to connect with people but primarily it is a very private relationship,” he said.