Chef extraordinaire Vicky Ratnani can often be found cooking up some of the most indulgent cheat meals favoured by Bollywood stars. One of the brightest achievements of the award winning chef is having been the Personal Chef to Nelson Mandela, on his journey from Durban to Cape Town while Mandela was promoting his charitable venture.
Ratnani is part of Airbnb India's Bollywood Insiders, a 10-day festival of engaging Online Experiences that brings India's storied film industry to life and presents guests with unique and authentic experiences. Hosted by the industry's top talent like Farah Khan, Shilpa Rao and Ratnani, guests from around the world will get a chance to experience Indian culture by going behind the velvet rope of Bollywood and interacting with its larger-than-life personalities.
Vicky Ratnani, 2015 Chef of the Year at Indian Restaurant Awards gives a pulse of what Bollywood likes to eat and what's trending. Read excerpts:
Are people's food preferences and concerns limiting, or do you find it a way to experiment and be creative as a chef?
I think it gives a chance to be more creative. A set of limited ingredients that you are given to work with, coupled with the expectations of a great dish help a chef evolve and work to the best of his potential.
Is farm to table something that is still evolving in India. Do you support this trend?
I am one of the first chefs that promoted farm to table in our country. I really do think it is important to believe in this phenomenon and hence am constantly making efforts to shop at farmer's markets. I shop from farmers across the country like Uttaranchal, Delhi and Nasik as much as possible.
Cheat meals obviously are everyone's favourite, out of all the celebrity cheat meals you cook, which one is your favourite and why?
My favourite celebrity cheat meal which I do end up cooking a lot is coincidentally the one I'm going to be making for my Airbnb experience, the Mushroom and Pumpkin and Risotto. However, my personal favourite cheat meal is Sindhi kadhi.
Depriving oneself of food and dessert is a short-sighted approach and takes away the sweetness that life offers. Do you agree?
Absolutely, you need to have a well-balanced diet. It all depends on what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat.
Tell us about your experience and association with Airbnb
Cooking has always been my passion, I have always enjoyed sharing my love for food with other people -- whether at my restaurants, on my cooking shows, or through books that I have written. Bollywood Insiders on Airbnb brought this unique opportunity to take my passion a notch up by sharing my experience, expertise and love for food with people across the globe through its Online Experiences. Through the years, I have cooked for all kinds of celebrities and dignitaries -- from Nelson Mandela to several Bollywood stars -- and Bollywood Insiders is a great platform to share my experience with fellow gastronauts.
People often think that their favourite Bollywood stars follow extremely strict diets. But some of the movie industry's brightest stars are major 'foodies' While they may have strict diet regimes for times when they are shooting or when they are working out with their trainers to get into the skin of a certain character, they all have their favourite 'cheat meals' they like to indulge in on their days off. Through my Online Experience, I will be teaching my guests how to cook some of the dishes relished by their favourite Bollywood stars on their cheat days. Together we will decode the favourite dishes of stars such as Malaika Arora and Farhan Akhtar and whip up a storm using ingredients that are readily available in the market. Through the interactive cooking session, we will recreate a delectable 'Bollywood cheat meal' dish from scratch. We will be cooking Mushroom Pumpkin Risotto and Sweet Potato medallions with Avocado Salsa for the first experience, and Mom's Mutton Curry with Bhuggal Chawal for the non-veg class.