Here he talks about his latest show, his channel - Food Food and much more...
Tell us about your new show.
Kitchen ke Khiladi, is a cooking reality show which is an international format and the producers are SOL.
What is the format and what is your role in it?
I will be a host and a judge on the show. The concept is that I will select 3 housewives who will compete with professional chefs. In India everyone has a speciality dish so we put these two teams against each other and as a judge I will see who cooks best. It will be fun to watch the difference between the cooking of professional chefs and a normal housewife and we will see who wins hands down.
Suddenly Food is being celebrated and now we have it on prime time TV too...
Yes and isn't it great! My thing always has been that food is next only to entertainment. I had said this two and half years ago and you see that it is true now too. I believe that I am responsible for that change in thinking and it has to be me who has to give it direction too. Food is now on prime time and we have channels taking it seriously. My role is that of Bhishma Pitamah in this field.
So will we see you partnering with other channels too?
I always innovate in my work and do well too. If somebody is doing something interesting related to Food and needs support than I am 100% with them to advice and guide.
Will it not be a clash of interest with your own channel - Food Food?
If we think of conflict of interest in any work we will not be able to do justice to that work. This is not business. From day one for Food Food, I was like don't worry about TRPs and with that thinking we became no 1 and that feeling of insecurity was never on my mind. When I became a chef I saw other chefs never used to share their recipes and I was the one who went ahead and said whatever I know I will share and teach others and that is how I became this chef that you know today. I have never worried about who is getting profits from me. So for me it is synergy.
My job is to make people start believing and when people said it is not working I told them to do it right and it will work. Even when they called me saying come for couple of episodes, I said why not, I can definitely spare couple of days. Tomorrow if Zee TV
wants to make a show and they want to make it big I will give my heart to it and will be happy. For me Masterchef or Kitchen ke Khiladi is as much as my programme because it is related to food. Anything related to food I feel it is my responsibility. We are creating for others to follow. Food is being celebrated and in that celebration we are happy to be with all.
I always believed and thought that food is not niche. It is a speciality but it is mass. I wanted people to view it like that and I am glad that GECs too are picking it up. All big channels should have food based shows. And at Food Food where ever there is something happening with food we are there and we will want to contribute. As I said if you do a good job we are with you. Not even as a tie-up even if you want to use our experience we are there to support.
In Kitchen ke Khiladi, I will also be integrating my chefs into the programme so it will be as useful to my channel Food Food too. I think that even when I did Masterchef on Star Plus the beneficiary was Food Food too. Also I feel that each and every programme on food should do well so whether or not I am on Junior Masterchef, I feel it should do well and if I can help them do better than why not?
What are your plans for Food Food?
In terms of numbers Food Food has been no. 1 since long and we are proud of that fact. Well, we have announcements coming up soon about international programmes on Food Food, so there is lot of action in store. We also plan to focus on lifestyle and not just food. Health, games, reality shows, travel everything will be given as much importance so we are making the expanse bigger and larger.
India is now ready to experience exciting new stuff. I have always believed that relevance is critical. The latest two shows we launched have been an endeavour in this region. 'Hi Tea' with Chef Ajay Chopra focuses on easy tea time recipes and guarantees enriching evenings whereas 'Out of the World Series... Africa' is a colorful adventure series which has unusual spices, exciting encounters and rendezvous with the locals there. Both the shows are showing signs of being successful.
I don't know. I have never been on KBC and I don't know whether I will be on it now too. But yes I would love it.
Recently on Teacher's day we saw a lot many messages thanking you for teaching them how to cook. How did it feel?
It feels very good. I remember some years ago I was travelling and going to Bhuj in Gujarat and having a conversation with my friend who was with me. He asked me, So what do you think you are?' I said I am a teacher. He asked me why and I said I feel I am good in teaching. He went on to tell me about books on positioning and authors and said that no matter how old you are there is always a reverence for teachers. Now with all these messages I find that his words ring true!
Seema Khot Mattoo