MasterChef India is set to return with its latest season tonight. And it’s star judges Chef Vikas Khanna and Chef Kunal Kapur are no less excited. They feel food is love, and keeping food as the centre of your family, is a great learning experience. It is a form of an experience which unites the family. The two stalwarts in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com spoke about how MasterChef India season 5 will celebrate food and why championing Indian cuisine is the most challenging one.
“Food has a very interesting way of interweaving itself with our culture. I think an empty stomach needs no entertainment beyond food. MasterChef is all about celebrating food and people who are very passionate about cooking this food. In MasterChef season 5, the hero is again food. It’s not the judges, it’s not the contestants. It’s the food drama that derives the entire season,” Chef Kunal said.
MasterChef India is an Indian cooking reality show, based on the original British MasterChef. However, it is MasterChef Australia which became the most popular. After travelling the world, and making winners out of common people fond of cooking, it arrived in India with its first season in 2010, which was hosted by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. Ever since its next seasons both the chefs, Vikas and Kunal have become an integral part of the show. Ask them why they keep coming back to judge the reality show, and Chef Vikas said, “For a lot of people, this is not just a show. This is a part of a food revolution. This show affects the food chain of the country. It alters the way we think about food.”
This season, restauranteur and food lover Zorawar Kalra joins the duo as the third judge. we asked what Zorawar will bring to the show, and Kunal replied, “Zorawar brings in the common man perspective. His restaurants are very popular with the aam-admi. I think his voice is the voice of a common, who wants to eat a good food.”
Over the years, Chef Vikas and Chef Kunal have surely attracted enough female adulation because of their stylish profession, being tagged as the “hottest chefs” of the country. So how do they deal with all the attention? Chef Kunal feels “you don’t need to be tall, dark and handsome if you are cooking in the kitchen.” Chef Vikas, who was named by the People magazine in the list of the Sexiest Men Alive and also referred to him as “The Hottest Chef of America” in 2011. Ask him if his profession was hot, cool or spicy, and with a shy smile, he says, “Chefs have become hot as a property and national demographics. I think spicy, yes, it is a validation of a profession in so many ways. I think its mixture of all…” Kunal interrupts, “I think hot, cool and spicy is nice to hear but it takes a lot of time behind the scenes to work really hard. The hot, cool and spicy if you see in any of us is 15-20 years of really hard work, not overnight.”
So does that mean these experts also face kitchen disasters on a regular basis? “We’ve had loads of disasters in the kitchen, always happen and will continue to happen, as long as the kitchen is active, it is alive, it has a lot of human force, human error. It’s part of the cooking. We try that the disasters are as little as possible. They will happen, you cannot deny it definitely. You are so embarassed to share them also!”, uttered Chef Vikas.
The two agreed that Indian cuisine was the most difficult to champion, hence MasterChef India has always been very different and more challenging than it’s other international versions. Chef Vikas said, “I think the greatest part of Indian food is that how it has over the last centuries absorbed the global flavours, invasions, cultures, ingredients which came to us. It has become part of us.” Chef Kunal agreed, “What intrigues me the most about Indian food is that it is the most complex food on Earth. I think the entire combination of so many ingredients in one dish, and make sense of it, and bring out taste, colour, presentation, creativity out of one dish. We are a complex cuisine. To master a complex cuisine is difficult. That’s why Indian food takes time to learn.”
The two chefs signed-off with a promise that the new season of MasterChef India is set to test exactly the same thing, how the contestants do their best to win over not just the hearts of these judges, but also the kitchen and Indian audience. Tune in your television screens for its grand premiere tonight!