Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor talks about evolution of the kitchen in a post-pandemic world

...And the importance of storytelling while cooking — at an event organised by Casa Milano


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Thu 8 Dec 2022, 5:03 PM

For many of us, the kitchen had devolved into a functional space, one that threw up good meals, and one that tended to be a bit messy — and one that was best not “seen” by guests when they dropped by. And then, Covid shook us up. As we spent more and more time in the kitchen, having conversations while cooking, feeling familiar, feeling comfortable, we realised it’s possibly the most important room in our houses. “It takes a pandemic to make us understand we are what we eat — and that comes from the kitchen… we realised our lives — our health, our food — get channelised from there, and there was a renewed, much-needed focus on the kitchen,” pointed out Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who’s a household name here in the UAE.

Recently, Chef Sanjeev was in Dubai to hold a live cooking session at (the UAE’s premier home improvements brand) Casa Milano’s flagship store at Al Waha Complex on Sheikh Zayed Road, where he took time out to speak to wknd. (Soon after our interview, he took guard at one of the ‘model’ kitchen set-ups and proceeded to delight a sizeable gathering with his culinary skills as he cooked up a storm — alongside entertaining everyone with his engaging food tales).

With him was Azhar Sajan, Director, Casa Milano, who explained why Sanjeev Kapoor was the first name that popped up in his head when the idea of curating a cooking session came up. “I’ve grown up seeing Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, I used to watch Khana Khazana [Sanjeev Kapoor’s hugely-popular TV show in India] whenever I visited India. I really wanted someone to come into our showroom, and experience our kitchens — and who better to showcase the experience of live cooking than Sanjeev Kapoor?”

Taking forward the theory of the kitchen’s evolution, Azhar said it’s been a year since the kitchen vertical was launched by Casa Milano, and “so far, the journey has been fantastic!” Post-pandemic, the demand for home improvement solutions — especially with regard to kitchens — has gone up. “Everybody wants to refurbish their kitchens, they want to show off their kitchens now… and new concepts — like your kitchen housing your dining space — have gained traction.”

Chef Sanjeev then explained why Dubai has a special place in his heart. “My first-ever restaurant [Khazana] was not in India, it was in Dubai… we’ve had multiple brands here, Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor, The Yellow Chilli… And have also endorsed many brands in this market… My daughter recently got married in this city… so my association with Dubai is deep.”

For him, the cooking experience, no matter where he engages in it, is the same, “whether I do it at home, at a restaurant, on camera, in a stadium… or whether I am doing it like I am doing it today — presenting a live session”. Chef Sanjeev infuses the spice of storytelling into his talent of cooking. “No matter what the medium is, I like to keep it interactive.”

Storytelling is an important part of life. “It keeps people engaged… if you have anecdotes to offer, people will listen… They will eat out of your hands, if your storytelling is good.” The Casa Milano event was a case in point.


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