The reason Lucknow-born celebrity chef Ranveer Brar has over 1.5 million followers on Instagram is that he prepares food the same way his audience consumes content — via insanely catchy clips, relatable cooking tips, conversational takeaways, and most importantly, memefied culinary chops.
It is not easy for any chef who started their careers in a non-hyper social networking world to have over a million followers on Instagram today. Sure they enjoy a certain fandom and entertain their viewers via mainstream mediums such as cooking shows and culinary judges, but only a few can resonate with the youth online. For celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, who has almost two decades of experience under his belt, adapting to new trends has been a matter of truly being himself. His online presence is proof that years of hard work, several accolades, and numerous television shows must turn into a brand name in itself to stay relevant.
Here, Masterchef India judge, author, restaurateur Ranveer Brar gives us a low-down on his life in the lockdown, what it takes to become a successful chef, cooking principles from his grandmother, and more.
Did you always want to be a chef?
No, like any other kid, I wanted to become a pilot one day and an astronaut another. Only much later, when I was 16-17 years old, I decided that this is what I want to do in life. Being born in Lucknow, food holds a very special place. And I realised this is something that can excite me for the rest of my life. It was the city of Lucknow that injected this passion into me. Lucknow shows you that food can also be a collective emotion, an emotion that never ends. It can show you that food can be much more. The city inspired me to be a chef.
How did #ObviouslyRanveer materialise?
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I always felt that food cannot exist without music and humour because headspace is important when you’re cooking. Humour primarily was a big part of my cooking content. What we did with that humour was what became #ObviouslyRanveer. More than me, it is my team that should be credited. For me, humour is natural. Being Punjabi, we are naturally good at two things: Sarcastic taunts and the ability to laugh at ourselves. And sometimes my videos can be borderline offensive too, but it is what it is. I did not come on the digital platform to enact; I came here to be myself.
What are the best cooking hacks you take away from your grandmother?
I don’t know about hacks, but a lot of cooking principles that I’ve taken from my grandmother. For instance, don’t keep opening the lid of a dish while cooking. And other basic things like don’t add salt at once, instead keep adding it in steps as it keeps you more in control. You don’t become a better cook by learning hacks, tips, and tricks but by mastering the basics. And that has been my mantra.
What does it take to be a successful chef? Is professional training a must?
Professional training does go a long way because it gives structure to your knowledge. A lot of times, we know everything, but we need to structure it in our heads to pursue it better and give it some direction. It structures food knowledge. The professional environment in the food industry is very hard, and it is important for a chef not to be too soft or too tough. If you’re too tough, you will lose the art of it, and if you’re too soft, you’ll lose the business sense of it.
Tell us all about RB Advantage, your digital culinary academy.
We realised there are people who just don’t come for the recipe alone. These people want to understand culinary fundamentals beyond the recipe and why they are doing it. And unfortunately, you can’t cater to one audience with both contents. And that’s why we decided let’s look at RB Advantage as a space where we can create avenues for people to learn more than just a recipe.
We are planning to launch it soon. RD Advantage will also be available on YouTube premium for exclusive memberships.
Tips for plating Indian cuisine?
One common mistake we make is that we douse the food in lots of sauce and gravy. Any time you’re plating, the visual texture of the food needs to be visible. Portion size is another thing you need to keep in mind. Keep it limited to serving. Reduced portion sizes automatically make the food look appealing.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you rather be?
I don’t know. Probably a photographer or a poet.
All images: Courtesy Ranveer Brar Instagram