Chef | Ranveer Brar | Global Indian

In the chef’s domain: Exploring culinary tales with Ranveer Brar

Written by: Namrata Srivastava

(February 25, 2024) To say that he is one of the most celebrated chefs in India might be an understatement. Known to be India’s youngest executive chef, Ranveer Brar is quite famous globally for his expertise in infusing traditional cuisines with a contemporary flair. But, would you believe it if I told you that this chef’s first job wasn’t at a five-star hotel, but at a roadside stall, where he worked on a lakdi ki bhatti (wood-fired oven)? And that the chef had to work really hard to prove himself.

Chef | Ranveer Brar | Global Indian

“Munir Ustad was my first mentor, he completely changed the way I approached food and cooking. I had noticed him often during my street food walks and secretly hoped he’d let me be his shagird (student) someday,” shares the chef, as he connects with Global Indian, adding, “When I eventually joined him, it wasn’t easy to gain his trust! Ustad would not easily share his recipes with me. I used to crush the spices and haul sacks of coal up to the terrace to dry them. I had to patiently prove myself and learn. And even when he did start sharing, it wasn’t a break-down kind of teaching. You just had to observe and learn the nuances. In a lot of ways, it taught me the importance of believing in your intuition and interpretation of any dish and using recipes as guidelines.”

A global culinary artist, Chef Brar is an honourary member of the James Beard Foundation, and has received recognition for his contribution to various cuisines from several institutions such as The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) and Academy for International Culinary Art (AICA).

A young lad from Lucknow

Growing up in Lucknow, Chef Brar was always fascinated by the city’s street food. Almost every day, after school, a young Ranveer Brar would venture out on the streets of Lucknow with his friends to taste the mouth-watering street dishes. But unlike his friends, this young boy was not just fascinated by the food – but also the stories behind each dish. “It’s difficult to say what attracted me first – food stories or the food itself,” shares the chef, adding, “Growing up in Lucknow, where they say – ek plate khana, ek pateela kisse (a plate of food served with an urn full of stories), I would like to think it’s more the former. I was especially fascinated by the kebab vendors. In a way, these jaunts were also a major contributor to my already growing interest in food.”

Chef | Ranveer Brar | Global Indian

After about six months of training under Munir Ustad, Chef Brar decided to further his culinary education and enrolled at the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) in Lucknow. Subsequently, he joined the Taj Group of Hotels, commencing his journey with one of their most esteemed establishments, Fort Aguada Beach Resort in Goa. Remarkably, during his initial assignment, the chef successfully inaugurated two restaurants within the hotel – Morisco and il Camino. In 2003, he made a move to the Radisson Blu Hotel in New Delhi, achieving the distinction of becoming the youngest executive chef in the country at the age of 25.


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“Thanks to my stint at the Taj during my days as an intern, I went on to open restaurants at various Taj establishments, the responsibility of opening and running a restaurant came early to me. I believe in taking everyone along my life/culinary path and that I feel has earned me a priceless wealth – human connections. I like to be logical when it comes to any task, list down the tasks, and tackle them systematically. Every restaurant I worked with, the lessons and lauds that came with them, paved the way for the next project I’d work on. And so life continued,” shares the chef.

Inspired by the locals

In 2003, the chef moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he established Banq, a high-end Franco-Asian restaurant that garnered acclaim and multiple accolades. This was also around the same time that the world first tasted Chef Brar’s signature dish, Dorra Kebab – a 200-year-old dish from Rampur, made with minced lamb, and marinated with over 30 rare herbs. “I created the Dorra Kebab in India, around 2003. It’s actually a classic dish that we just reinvented with a little panache and flair. The idea was to bring out the thought that Kebabs can be melt-in-the-mouth and celebrate the skill of Kebab-making too. And that’s what we took to the US,” shares the chef.

But, while he has travelled across the globe, and tasted the flavours of most cuisines, the chef’s favourite travel memory remains that of visiting a small Rajasthani village. “A dish and a memory that are quite close to my heart is a Raab that I sampled in Rajasthan. When I first met Shanti Devi in Khejarli village, Rajasthan, I wasn’t quite prepared for The Sustainable lunch she treated me to. Half the ingredients were preserved over from the previous season and a buttermilk-like dish she made from Bajra, the Raab, was chilled in an earthen indigenous ‘refrigerator’! Though we couldn’t fully understand each other’s language, I learnt a lot from her that day through the food she cooked for us. I have since recreated and reinvented what I ate that day in my cooking sessions across the world,” he shares.

Beyond the kitchen

In 2015, upon returning to India, the chef crafted menus for several upscale restaurants, such as MTV India, Haute Chef, English Vinglish, and TAG GourmART Kitchen. But, the kitchen wasn’t the only playground that he was interested in anymore. Chef Brar made his first appearance on Indian television, with MasterChef, and subsequently several other shows including Ranveer On The Road, The Great Indian Rasoi, Food Tripping, and Himalayas the Offbeat Adventure. While he certainly wasn’t the first chef to appear on television, what set him apart was his unique storytelling style.


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In fact, the chef is gearing up another show, called The Family Table, where he hosts celebrities and their families for fun cook-offs. “In a country where our day begins with ‘aaj khane mein kya hai!’, food becomes the perfect conversation starter, especially in a household. There’s an entire genre of home cooking that lies in heirloom recipes from different families that need to come to the fore. With the Family Table, the idea is to bring those recipes, those conversations forward; and celebrate this aspect of our cuisine through the fun in and beauty of family cooking,” he says.

But not just TV, the chef was recently seen in the six-episode anthology – Modern Love Mumbai – along with Pratik Gandhi and veteran actress Tanuja, which was directed by Hansal Mehta. “Honestly, I never thought I would act, though I always had a lot of respect for the craft. I debuted in mainstream television and I thought I would end up in the directing stream, as I direct a lot of food documentaries. So I wasn’t planning to become an actor, but the love for the medium and the ease of working with Pratik, Talat Aziz ji, and Hansal sir ticked all the boxes for me. And the role of Rajveer was truly endearing for me. My next was with Hansal ji again, The Buckingham Murders. It was a completely different role and an intriguing character experiment as well. I’m definitely on the lookout for the next interesting script,” the chef expresses.

Chef | Ranveer Brar | Global Indian

Chef Ranveer Brar with actor Pratik Gandhi, during the shoot of Modern Love Mumbai

Sharing his mantra for the upcoming generation of chefs, he shares, “Just remember three rules – get the basics rights, stick to the genre of food that you feel most connected to, and persevere with patience and focus. The trick is to keep it simple and play to your strengths. Instead of planning long menus, stick to the dishes you know you are experts in, and work on dishes that represent your culture and your personal connection with food better. ‘Less is more’ is the mantra that works.”

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