In a tête-à-tête with Maria Goretti, the TV chef discusses her love for all things food
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Popular TV host, food blogger and now cookbook author, Maria loves food and cooking. Her recipes are easy, simple and garnished with plenty of love. So, it’s no surprise that her cooking show on Living Foodz was called I Love Cooking! Recently, her first book From My Kitchen to Yours won an award from the Gourmand World Cookbook jury–an international organisation founded by Edouard Cointreau, which annually selects and honours the best food and wine books from around the world. Subsequently, Maria has also been nominated and will be competing with the best celebrity chefs from around the world in the category of cookbooks for the Gourmand International Awards, 2017. We caught up with the award-winning author and here’s what she had to say:

1. Tell us about the inspiration for your book From My Kitchen to Yours.

As with my blog The Maria Goretti Corner…, the inspiration for my book has been my family and friends, the food that we all love and the memories that I have—my book is a little piece of me. Writing a book is no walk in the park—it requires a lot of research and, single-handedly, it takes a lot more time than it would if I had a team helping me out. And yes, the second book is coming soon.

2. In your book, the recipes are simple, yet wholesome and homely, and you share plenty of cooking tips. Is there a reason you have kept it this way?
Yes, I like to keep my food simple, yet wholesome and let the flavours be the hero. I wrote my book because I wanted to share my recipes with my readers, hence cooking tips is a must to help them out. It gives me great joy when someone replicates my humble recipes and prepares food for their loved ones the way I do. I have an emotional connection with cooking and I create recipes that give me joy.

3. With great food, there is always nostalgia. Which are the dishes that you remember eating during your childhood?
Most of the food that I make is the food that I grew up eating. I have a few of my mum’s dishes that I have added to my kitchen. Growing up, there was a lot of East Indian influence in my mum’s cooking along with a touch of Austrian cuisine. I remember eating my mum’s chow, vindaloo, prawn curry and orange marmalade. In fact, the recipes my mum has handed down to me, I have kept them as pure as 24 karat gold—I do not want to modify or alter them because that would mess with their taste. My mum’s recipes are my legacy and I love them just the way they are. All the recipes in my book From My Kitchen to Yours have the Goretti tag to it and I have tried and tested each one of them.

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4. Tell us what you learned at Gordon Ramsay’s institute Tante Marie Culinary Academy in London?
Everything! From baking to cooking techniques to creating recipes, we pretty much covered it all. This gave me enough confidence to not be afraid to make mistakes in the kitchen. I do believe that any skill can be taught. However, it is the passion and love for what you are doing that infuses it with a life of its own.

5. You know your food, you are eloquent and you are easy on camera, with plenty of viewers calling you one of India’s best TV celebrity chefs. What do you think was your key to being a successful chef on TV?
I started my career being on television (as a VJ) so I had experience of facing the camera. And I love cooking, so I guess blending the two together was effortless and put me in a comfortable space. This got translated on camera and was easy for the audiences to relate to.

6. Which dish have you got the most compliments for?
The yummy lasagne that is finger-licking good till its last bite. Although, anything you serve with love is bound to get you compliments, but this lasagne is always polished off.

7. You are constantly whipping up delectable dishes. With all this cooking, how do you manage to stay fit?
I eat almost everything I like, but I make it a point to run every day and that works for me. Also, I think thin. I believe it is important to enjoy the food that you eat rather than keeping a count on calories. The key is self-control—you must eat everything that you like in moderation—that’s the best way to live.

8. You have been a successful VJ, and we have seen you regularly on TV and on the silver screen. So, we are curious, have you always had a flair for cooking or been a foodie?
I have always been a foodie. However, cooking is a new-found love that is going to stay. The best part of being a VJ was that I travelled extensively, which gave me the opportunity to try out new cuisines all the time.

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9. What are your future gastronomic plans? Many celebrities have opened restaurants and cafés. Do you see yourself headed in that direction too?
No, not in this point of time. I respect and I am in awe of all my friends who have gone out there and opened restaurants. As I know the kind of time and energy that goes into it, now, I choose to continue fuelling my passion with food, cooking and writing. But you never know what the future holds as I have always believed that the sky is the limit.

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