Finding new culinary surprises

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 22 June 2017

Chatting up celebrity chef Kunal Kapur, who will be seen exploring food, wine, culture and exciting places in Australia through his web series #TravelWithKunal

Chatting up celebrity chef Kunal Kapur, who will be seen exploring food, wine, culture and exciting places in Australia through his web series #TravelWithKunal

Chef, restaurateur, MasterChef India judge, author and travel enthusiast — Kunal Kapur wears many hats. Fondly known as the ‘curry and kebab guy’ for his simple, rustic and home-style cooking, Kunal loves exploring various cultures and cuisines and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world through various platfoms. Some of his latest discoveries include dalle khorsani, a round, fiery chilli from the North East as also recipes of 16 indigenous pickles he learnt from a friend in Darjeeling.
The ever smiling chef is geared up for another exciting journey now. Kunal’s new web series #TravelWithKunal is a treat for all foodies and those with a wanderlust. They can follow Kunal on a food trail in Australia. The series being launched on Facebook and Twitter today at 11 am IST, will highlight the finest food and wine experiences across the states of Queensland and South Australia.

The series will also showcase the best of Australian wildlife, adventure and city life. Here’s chatting up the celebrity chef:

What culinary surprises do you have in store for us in #TravelWithKunal?
Australia has been very special. It’s the first edition of #TravelWithKunal and Tourism Australia has been a very warm host. Through its seven episodes, #TravelWithKunal tells the tale of the scenic, mystic and wondrous locales of Australia.

I began my Australian journey in the hustle bustle of Adelaide, exploring the local produce and food joints to watch out for, breweries, nightlife and a lot more. Then I took a turn to the wild with Kangaroo Island as the next pit stop. From vineyards to oyster farms to organic honey to friendly seals, #TravelWithKunal captures a must-live experience through the Kangaroo Island. The Great Barrier Reef, which happens to be an island made of live corals is high on recommendation too. I will also introduce the viewers to the place of origin of Jacob’s Creek, Barossa, sipping on 100-year-old Port wine along with other legacy vineyards of South Australia. It’s the best food, nature, adventure and culture from South Australia that I explore and bring forth.

Chefs are evolving into new-age travel experts. How does it help viewers and enrich the chefs?
Travel and gastronomy have always gone together. I think our generation likes to travel more than the previous one. The more we travel, the more travel trends there are to talk about. Travel really expands your palate and introduces you to not just new flavors but also to the traditions and love for different cuisines.

Travel holds a different meaning for everyone. For me, it’s reinventing myself through research on food, ingredients, techniques, culture and traditions across the globe. I wouldn’t use the term ‘travel expert’. We are all sharing our experiences and what travel means to us. For young chefs, inspiration and exposure to the culinary skills and techniques from around the world is important. And that’s what I hope to do — inspire!
Do you think chefs have the responsibility to promote and make lesser-known indigenous ingredients, recipes or techniques of cooking popular so that they become a part of the Indian mainstream cooking and eating habits?
If you are truly passionate about something, you automatically pick up the responsibility to build or sustain it. I am passionate about bringing out the lesser-known or forgotten ingredients and styles of cooking. It gives me joy like nothing to learn new things about food of my country and bring it to people. Wherever I have travelled, people are more than willing to share their kitchen secrets. For me, it’s a journey to become a better chef through my travel and research.

What are the latest trends in food at both Indian and global level? What role does social media play in turning a food item into a trend?
‘Local is the new global’. Fresh and seasonal produce coupled with global cooking techniques is the latest trend around the world. A lot many times, I get to see trending food on social media before I could get to know through my travel. I feel social media plays an important part to excite us and bring acceptance for new foods and trends.

Of late, a lot of chefs from abroad seem to be fascinated by Indian cuisines. What, according to you, attracts them?
Indian cuisines have always been rich and fascinating. Today with the advent of social media, the exposure is higher, the lines across cuisines are blurring. I am an Indian chef and I met people in Australia who have been following me. Likewise, I am sure  people here must be following chefs abroad and taking on to different cuisines. The unknown brings the excitement to explore. With so many different ingredients to offer, India is now the next destination for inspiration for global chefs.

From cooking magic in the kitchen to judging MasterChef and now wearing the hat of a travel expert, how do you strike a balance between your multiple roles?
I have always aspired to be a connoisseur of experiences. Cooking is obviously my passion and I have been fortunate to receive so much love for the experiences I have created. Travel is another staple for me. I believe nothing teaches you like travel can. Food, of course, is a huge part of my travel. I love being on a journey of iconic history, new cultures and flavors. So I guess, I never have to think about striking a balance. I get to live my passions for a living and what’s better than that!

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