Smitten by the talented MasterChef India’s judge, Zorawar Kalra? In a candid interview, he shares what inspires him the most -his father, the food Czar Jiggs Kalra to different cultures and cuisines! An MBA holder by degree and a passionate food consultant by heart, he regards the food industry as a lifestyle choice and making magical dishes an art. Read this exclusive interview about his experience introducing gastronomy in cooking, his journey so far and his upcoming ventures.
Quotes and takeaways
- “Food is not just a hobby, it is pure passion.”
- “Anything that you do with passion become an art, however anything done as a job becomes a task.”
- “Being in the food industry is not really like doing a job it is more of a lifestyle choice.”
Were you inspired to try your hand in the kitchen as a child? As a child, what were your dreams and what really made you stick to the food industry? Tell us a bit about your early years in the industry.
I grew up in a house where food has always been the focus. I grew up on fantastic dinners and fascinating dinner table conversations which were on food. Further, food became my passion and soon after my MBA I decided to set up a business, capitalized on my father’s expertise and my passion.
You are one of the most talented food consultants in India. Your passion and interest in making food as a lifestyle to choose as earned you the name of the reigning prince of modern Indian cuisine. How do you sharpen your skills? Also, what are the skills you think is a must in handling food and keep innovating?
‘Food is not just a hobby, it is pure passion.’ It is something that I would do for free. Literally, being in the food industry is not really like doing a job it is more of a lifestyle choice. It is not a 9 to 5 thing, it is about devoting your entire being to it. It is important to think of your restaurant business as a lifestyle choice for your guests and offer great experiences so that they continue to choose you over other choices.
You were one of the judges of MasterChef India. How was the experience? What do you focus more on when judging?
My focus was on recognizing the passion in the contestants. I was truly amazed to see such a brilliant talent who shared a deep love for food.
You are one of the first in India to introduce the concept of gastronomy in cooking. What inspired you to do this? How has it been received by audiences?
I am pursuing my father’s dream of putting Indian food on the global palate. I am single-mindedly focused on presenting Indian cuisine with a modern twist and post molecular innovations, capitalizing on my father’s expertise.
It has been received really well so far and the critics are really appreciative of our innovative food concepts.
Many of your menus are from your imagination. You have always experimented with different styles of cuisines as well as dining in your ventures. How do you find the creative energy and time in-between all your work?
Food is my passion and as I said, the food industry is not a 9 to 5 job, it requires devoting your entire being to it. It is a very creative industry that requires constant innovation.
Which is your personal favorite amongst your ventures? Tell us a bit about what to expect when we go there and what you would recommend!
All of our restaurants have shown excellent performances and each one is my favorite. We don’t want to name any singular one out but definitely our brands such as Farzi Café, Masala Library, and Pa Pa Ya have continued to offer exceptional dining experiences. Our new concept KODE has also developed an amazing fan following with its largest selection of Whiskies and is continuing to grow extensively. We recently have introduced our new brand called BOTAI which has also been received very well. Overall, each restaurant is different offering unique cuisine that has been loved wholeheartedly by our patrons.
You have won thousands of hearts through your restaurants. Can you tell us about your best experiences so far?
My best experiences would definitely be the successful creation of several new genres. I think overall we have been lucky to have formats that are first of their trend in the market and that creates a new experience for the guest.
Jiggs Kalra is a legend and a food czar, popularly accredited with the title of a first celebrity chef who has revived old cuisines and cooking styles of lost regions. Your father is a mentor in your journey. How has his work influenced yours? What is the greatest advice he has ever said to you?
Each day I learn something new from my father. Being a gastronome, critic, food expert and journalist he is the walking-talking encyclopedia of the food industry. The greatest advice that he has given me is “Figure out something you would do for free and then to go ahead and make a career out of it. If you love what you do and you do it every day then you will never work another day in your life.”
You have done a lot of fusion food and in general, experimented with Indian as well as international audiences. What challenges have you faced there?
At Massive, we create every dish post-in-depth experimentation, ruling out all possibilities of every risk involved. The international market compared to Indian, offers extensive choice, with almost all renowned names in the restaurant & hospitality business having a presence, across categories and locations. Therefore, I feel that it is also the perfect melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and nationalities for diners who travel to other parts of the world and have adapted an amazing lifestyle of relishing various cuisine.
Many youngsters are inspired by you to innovate and re-invent the food industry. What would you like to say to them?
Do it with passion and create dishes with innovation and creativity. Anything that you do with passion becomes an art, however anything done as a job becomes a task. Also, do advanced research as the food industry is mostly trend and preference-based. So, it is very important to provide the right food in the right way.