Chef Shipra Khanna, the winner of Masterchef India Season 2, takes us through her journey of life. An inspiration for all those who love their profession, she speaks to Devi Dang about cooking and her experiences with the culinary arts.
WHAT DOES COOKING AND FOOD MEAN TO YOU? HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN PASSIONATE ABOUT IT?
Cooking and food is my lifeline, it is something that I live for and I can’t imagine a life without it. It’s my passion and has always been and now it’s my profession, which I am really passionate about.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE DURING THE JOURNEY TO MASTERCHEF INDIA?
There was a lot of stress being the first in line coupled with the performing under stress. But, at the end of it, when I look back it was all worth it, as it got the best out of me.
HOW DID YOUR LIFE CHANGE AFTER WINNING MASTERCHEF INDIA?
Over all, it provided me with a great platform to turn my passion into reality and into a profession.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA TO WRITE YOUR BOOK THE SPICE ROUTE?
I always wanted to share what I had learnt in life and the recipes that I had learnt from my travel, from people, from my mother and my grandmother. I also wanted to share my experiences during Masterchef along with recipes that I created then and for my children – all this inspired me to write The Spice Route.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO A PERFECT RECIPE?
A recipe that comes from the heart and is well executed by the mind, that gives you a sense of gratification and happiness along with pride after creating it and is appreciated and enjoyed by the one who it is served to is a perfect recipe according to me. Whether it’s simple or complex doesn’t matter.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE GIVE TO THE YOUTH IN INDIA TODAY?
If you have a dream and a vision for the future, don’t let it die due to the circumstances and people around you. Your time will come!
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Restaurants, books, travel and TV shows are all a part of my future plans.
WHO INSPIRED YOU TO JOIN THE CULINARY ARTS AND WHY?
My grand mother and my mother have inspired me to become a chef.
IF YOU COULD COMPLETE AGAINST ONE CHEF, WHO WOULD IT BE?
It would be myself. Every new dish is a new beginning for me and my career.
IN AN AGE WHERE KITCHEN GADGETS AND COOKING METHODS ARE SLOWLY MOULDING THEMSELVES AROUND ELECTRICITY, HOW ESSENTIAL IS THE METHOD OF COOKING TO YOU?
It is an essential part of cooking, but at the same time, there are simple ways too. It really depends on what one is cooking. Electricity is a power source, as is LPG. Authentic cooking is always natural – fire, coal and other elements.
DO YOU THINK PARTRIARCHAI BEGWIGS DOMINATE THE CULINARY INDUSTRY?
Every industry is, but that is changing quickly across the spectrum.
FOOD IS SUBJECTIVE TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. SOME MAY LIKE A DISH AND SOME WON’T. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH NEGATIVE CRITICISM TO YOUR FOOD?
Food is more about appreciation rather than criticism. It is a positive field and constructive opinions and inputs mould cooking into a flexible art form that caters to people who have varying tastes. Successful recipes have to cater to the taste buds and it is essential that every chef understands that.
SINCE YOU DO NOT HAVE A BACKGROUND IN COOKING, HOW DID YOU POLISH UP YOUR SKILLS FOR CAREER IN THE CULINARY ARTS?
Practical experiences and learning techniques across India and globally have helped me a lot. Also the digital world gives us a lot of input in this expansive field of cooking.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
* FAVORITE DISH?
SIMPLE HOME FOOD AND TANDOORI DISHES
* FAVORITE FILM?
* SOMETHING NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT YOU
I LOVE TO PAINT
* ONE WORD THAT DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE