Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the name needs no introduction. For his stature, he should be more intimidating, but his warm demeanor and endearing smile make him so relatable that you often forget that he is perhaps one of India's biggest culinary icons of all time. Unlike other celebrities, he is one celebrity chef both my mother and I admire equally, so naturally, I was rather kicked to interact with the genius who made cooking fashionable for me. The culinary master’s cooking shows have been a guide for everyone from amateur cooks to home chefs. And he has definitely come a long way. From cooking shows to charting meals of PM Modi, United Nations Programs and now much recently winning hearts by serving meals to healthcare workers, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor has been unstoppable. When in lockdown, people were channeling their inner 'Sanjeev Kapoor' in the comfort of their kitchen, the chef himself was out there planning to do his best for the healthcare workers and ultimately served over a billion meals. Slurrp caught up with him for an exclusive interview to know all about his lockdown endeavors, his thoughts on healthy eating amid the festivities, and spilling the beans on his comfort food, food trends, and much more.  


1. Has the post-pandemic world changed anything in your eating habits or diet 

Health has become a focus for everybody of course, in terms of what you eat at home, at restaurants, to what you buy and everything. I eat everything, taste everything, but otherwise, I have always been prudent. In terms of focus on health, that has definitely increased. My two new ventures focus more on health. Because overall now everyone understands the importance of it more. 


2. Now that the festive season is around, one healthy tip you would like to give to all the dessert lovers. 

In the festive season, we want the sweetness but not necessarily you want the extra calories that come with it. That’s where Sugar Free comes in, along with many varieties of it. So it’s not difficult to incorporate healthier alternatives, it is fairly simple. I’m not saying don’t eat sweets but tweak them a bit to balance it out. 


3. What is your most favourite Indian sweet for the festive season 

I’m a true Indian so I eat everything, but in moderation. But I like Bengali sweets a lot besides traditional ladoos.  But I like every Indian sweet and wouldn’t be able to name anything that I don’t like.


4. One kitchen ingredient you can’t live without 

Nothing. I don’t believe in any such thing.  


5. What is the one dish you are most proud of creating 

So as chefs we keep on creating dishes and we move on. But Shaam Savera remains special to me. 


6. What is Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s ultimate comfort dish 

Khichdi. I can eat it anytime but I make it differently by adding a bit of palak to it. 


7. Any particular food trend that you really liked 

No. I think food trend is something people like me don’t follow but we create it. We aren’t followers we are leaders of the culinary world. Trends to me are, short-termed but traditions are long-termed. Something like Shaam Savera, which was created by me in 1992, now when somebody meets me and they don’t know I created it, and they tell me that they eat it all the time, it makes me happy. It wasn't a trend back then, but today it is a tradition.  


8. Tell us something about your support to healthcare workers during the Pandemic 

First day of the lockdown, I’m sitting in my balcony, everything was shut, from offices to hospitals, shops, everything. And after a very long time, I had nothing to do. I switched on the television, and on news they showed some of the biggest hospitals of Mumbai. And I thought that when everything is shut, nobody can go out, transportation is shut, how are the hospitals managing at work and where are they getting their food from? And that set my mind working and I thought that since flights are shut, flight kitchens have the capacity as no work is going on. I called up a friend in Taj Hotels and discussed giving food to healthcare workers. We chalked about the logistics of preparing the meals and were on board immediately. In the next 48 hours, despite some hurdles from the authorities, we were serving three hospitals. From 3 we made it to 5, to some in Delhi, Bangalore, and then suddenly we were serving about 55 hospitals all over India in a matter of few days. Then from there, many people came on board to help and we served over a billion meals.  


9. 3 Indian chefs you are proud of.  

Every Indian chef From Vikas Khanna to Kunal Kapur are family to me. They are all very collaborative, trying to do lot of good work. There's one chef in Mumbai, Prateek Sadhu, who has done outstanding work with his restaurant. Vinit Bhatia in the UK is doing great work, Vivek Singh in London has been great for years. Good thing is that all of them are a part of one large family.  


10. What would be your key tip for budding chefs 

Don’t follow the lead, be yourself, be sensitive to the environment, to time, to everything.