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Chef Vicky Ratnani On The Influence Of Social Media: I Am A Chef Who Can Create Content | Exclusive

Chef Vicky Ratnani’s name is synonymous with the wonders that have been achieved in the Indian culinary world over the last few decades. From hosting a supremely popular food show on television to writing a fantastic book and now enthralling his fans with amazing food content on social media, he has done it all in the most stellar way possible. Chef Ratnani’s social media content is truly a class apart and is an extension of his super fun and charming personality.

Recently, the Chef was in Delhi for the launch of Longitude 77, an Indian Single Malt Whiskey. He spoke to News18 exclusively about the role of social media- how it influences his culinary journey, food and much more.

Excerpts From The Interview-

How has social media influenced the way you share your culinary creations and recipes with a wider audience?

I think social media can be a lot of fun. It could have a lot of knowledge as well, provided that you use it and not misuse it. I think with our smartphones and our apps, it has become very important – it has become another medium to bring out content or recipes or knowledge, and it’s a very interesting way to showcase things as well. For me, I love photography, I am really good at my photography, I edit my own videos, and I am a self-taught person. So, literally when people confuse me, are you a content creator, I said no, I am a chef who can create content.

What role does social media play in shaping food trends and influencing people’s preferences?

Well, it has pros and cons as well. Sometimes social media is not good for food things because a lot of things go viral which are not really healthy at all and they only look good when you see someone on social media making it. But when you actually cook them yourself, they don’t turn out as good as they are on the internet.

Can you share an example of a dish or concept that gained popularity primarily through social media and how it impacted your culinary journey if that has happened?

Well, there was some dish, which I can’t even remember, something, which they cooked with Limca, Cucumber Pickle I guess, it didn’t create any impact. I haven’t yet tried it. But it kind of made sense now because like lime and cucumber go very well, and also the carbonation in a drink, makes your lettuce and leaves and ingredients crisper, so it could be. Rather than making an impact, it has left a mark.

How do you balance maintaining authenticity in your recipes, while catering to the diverse preferences of a global audience on social media?

I think aesthetics of cooking, if you have good esthetics of cooking and your bases are strong, you will not deviate from the real DNA of food. But as a chef and with experience, you can get creative with the same thing. So, literally, you can give the same thing in 10 different forms.

Can you share a pivotal moment or experience that significantly shaped your approach to cooking and your personal cooking style?

I think Vicky Goes Veg changed a lot in me. I turned vegetarian while writing the recipes and filming the show, and at that time it was almost like a big challenge for me to adapt to cooking just vegetarian food, I mean from a global point of view, and with global influences like Western food, but cooked with– western vegetarian food, not just Chinese or Indian. So, I think that was a turning point for me where– because it was a very successful show, it was a very great exercise, and at the same time as a chef I felt really proud that you could create that same impact and taste with vegetables.

How do you stay creatively inspired in the kitchen after years of experience and where do you find new sources of inspiration for your dishes?

Well, I think for me, I am a very curious person. I am reading constantly. I watch things related to food and travel on YouTube, and I read a lot. I still buy a lot of cookbooks. And also, the thing is that I have been more of a Western chef all my life. I moved back to India 11 years ago, and I have restarted my culinary journey. So, a lot of the food, which I cook in India has a very global kind of feel to it.

How do you blend different culinary influences into your creations?

Well, I think it’s– I think the more you taste, the more you travel, the more you have seen, the more you read. If you put that all onto a drawing board, you can come out with a lot of nice combinations.

What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them to reach the level of success you have achieved today?

I think I have been always pushing myself to learn new things and to get new work. I never say no to work. That’s why as a chef I wear different hats. I ran restaurants 15 years ago. I just found that it was taking too much of my time because there were other things, which I would– I was pursuing travelling. I consult. I write. I have my own burger brand called Speak Burgers, which I am growing all over the country. So, I think it’s just that you have to– at the end of the day, everybody has 24 hours. I think it’s how you divide it and I think it’s the positive approach and never saying never.

Can you highlight a dish or culinary concept that holds a special place in your heart and what makes it memorable for you?

I am doing a big research project and I am actually doing a project, which involves Sindhi food. It’s one food, which I have grown up with, because being a Sindhi, I haven’t cooked as much as I have of the other kinds of food. So, I am actually relooking at family recipes and trying to bring Sindhi food out of the closet.

How has the culinary landscape evolved during your career, and what trends do you find most exciting in today’s food industry?

The most exciting thing about food and the culinary landscape is that people at a very young age are starting to take up food and cooking as a passion, the kind of knowledge that kids have now, who are 10 and 11 years old, is unreal. I mean, when I was nine, I couldn’t even boil water, if you know what I mean. So, I think I love the trend of food becoming mainstream. The chef is not a smelly cook at the back. Chefs are given a lot of respect. There is great competition, which just means that because chefs are really pushing the boundaries now, they are bending backwards, they are learning a lot, and it has become a very serious profession.

For aspiring chefs, what advice would you offer to navigate the competitive and dynamic world of professional cooking?

I say this all the time, if you want to– if you are becoming a chef to become famous, then I think you are in the wrong profession. I think fame comes much later. It comes later with credibility, with experience. This is what I tell all the budding chefs that learn the basics first and just keep on learning. We didn’t have– in my time, there was no internet, there was no Google, there was nothing. We could only learn through newspapers and magazines and the college library. So, I think young chefs should take advantage of all the knowledge they are getting through different mediums and not get carried away.

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