Get cooking on the mark 3, 2, 1… because celebrity chefs Ranveer Brar, Vicky Ratnani, Gautam Mehrishi, Pankaj Bhadouria, Kunal Kapur, Ajay Chopra and Rakhee Vaswani are coming to your city scouting for talent. And what’s up for grabs, you ask? If you win the cook-off pitted against the best cooks in your city and eventually all over India, you stand a chance to be on national television on Living Foodz with one of the LF chefs. To ease your worries, read about what chefs Ranveer, Ajay and Pankaj had to say about their experience on Food Fiesta and their expectations from this season:
“My favourite part of Food Fiesta is that it gives me the chance to cook with, and alongside, other chefs. It also gives me the opportunity to explore local cuisines. Last year, in Chandigarh, during my interaction with the crowd, I asked them about the must-try places and off I went discovering. I loved the stuffed Tandoori chicken at Tehal Singh’s Dhaba, the chaat at Gopal’s and the soya chaap at Wah Ji Wah.
Overall, the creativity and application in the food space has picked up big time over the last couple of years. There’s been a good mix of cuisines and dishes cooked. It’s fascinating how tier II cities have caught up with the metros in terms of knowledge, skill and availability of ingredients. This year, I am looking at this cook-off as an opportunity to assess the audience to see how far they’ve come—it’s like a dipstick of how the food game has changed, but laced with lots of fun. Interacting and engaging with the foodies is always refreshing. Last weekend, when I was at Indore to kick-start Food Fiesta 2017, I gorged on the coconut pattice at Chappan Dukan and Dahi Bada from Sarafa Bazaar.”
—Chef Ranveer Brar
“I am very excited for Food Fiesta 2017 because there’s always a good exchange of ideas, views and flavours—all this put together with a bunch of people who are genuinely excited about food is what makes it a real fiesta! In the previous years, I have seen a number of good recipes come about with the numerous ingredients provided. I love the mystery box challenge because it really gets the contestants ticking with passion and enthusiasm. Some contestants get common ingredients, but what each contestant does with that common element is unique, and then there are those who make two to three dishes with their box of ingredients—it’s all happening! After tasting all that delicious food, I feasted on chole bhature and tikki from the streets of Chandigarh.
Since I will be judging the Delhi leg of this year’s Food Fiesta, I am expecting the participants to cook Indian food, but with a twist. Delhi is a city that loves its food, and consumption in restaurants has increased, giving people plenty of food ideas. I want the people to embrace Indian cuisine and be creative with it. For example, I would applaud a contender if he/she makes a chicken tikka pizza, but would be disappointed if they made spaghetti Bolognese because that’s done and there’s no creativity or personal touch that they have added to it. I hope all the contestants do well and put their mind together to come up with innovative ideas and dishes.”
—Chef Ajay Chopra
“I was part of Food Fiesta’s Ahmedabad installment last year, and I still remember tasting Santosh Gupta’s dish. He was one of the two contestants that chef Kunal Kapur and I picked from that city to cook-off in the final and he went on to win and, as a result, appeared on my show Health in 100. It’s interesting to note how the competitors’ creativity and horizons have widened. In earlier seasons, flavour was king, but now I have noticed that the cooks have started putting effort into the presentation of the dish as well, and we can see a varied range of international and local cuisines on display. All this is thanks to more exposure via food shows and contests. This year, I expect further more creative dishes—the different kinds of dishes that people can invent with the limited amount of ingredients that we challenge them with. Additionally, it’s heartening to see more men take to cooking. In the previous years, in Delhi, I noticed a lot of male contestants, while Ahmedabad had mostly female ones. Last weekend in Indore after concluding the Food Fiesta cook-off there, I feasted on Banjos (hotdog-bun burgers) on the streets of Chappan Dukan; and ate sabudana khichdi, jaleba (a huge 500g jalebi), bhutte ki kheer, nariyal ka shake (malai and paani blended) in Sarafa market, and not to mention returned to Mumbai with plenty of namkeen and farsaan.”
—Chef Pankaj Bhadouria
“My favourite part about Food Fiesta is the enthusiasm of all the foodies; and interacting with them during the event is always exciting. In the previous years, I got plenty of feedback about my shows from the audience, and was overwhelmed by their positive reviews. They also gave me a list of dishes that they would like to see me cook/bake on my next show. This year, I'm hoping to reach out to more genuine fans and hearts in different cities. I wasn’t aware that my show had audiences in so many towns and cities, and that I was their go-to in terms of cooking and baking! Similarly, I'm looking forward to Food Fiesta 2017 as an opportunity to discover and experience the unique food trends and specialties of these unexplored cities and towns.”
—Chef Rakhee Vaswani
“Last year, I had the opportunity to host the Ahmedabad installment of Food Fiesta, and the response that we received from the locals was simply phenomenal! We were marveled by the participation of food enthusiasts at the event and the cook-off. Food Fiesta is a great platform for culinary enthusiasts as it gives them the opportunity to be recognised for their talent. I look forward to interacting with more of our viewers across India at Food Fiesta 2017.”
—Chef Kunal Kapur
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