Read the interview conversation of Chef Varinder Singh Rana, Dean of CT University, Ludhiana, Punjab and Khatibah Rehmat Senior Journalist.
1)Tell us about yourself, starting from your family, education and rewards you have received in your culinary career.
CHEF VARINDER SINGH RANA: I am a Chef by profession and working as a dean at CT University in Ludhiana, Punjab. I have many associations with other reputed universities like Amity University, Lovely Professional University, GNA University, in education sector. I had served Punjab Tourism for three years as the youngest General Manager at the age of 24. I have been learning since my childhood and still continue to learn every single day. Academically, I have completed my hotel management from Banglore University in 2001 and have completed my master's in hotel management and catering technology from Chennai University. I have also done my Ph.D. in hospitality from Amity University, Noida and the topic of thesis was Research on the problems and prospects of food tourism in Punjab, with special reference to Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala.
AWARDS AND REWARDS:
a) In my professional journey, I have worked with a lot of celebrities. One of my most cherished memories is, when I got the chance to serve our Late. Honourable President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and to the President of Afghanistan, Dr. Hamid Karzai. I was chosen to be the head cook for that event.
b) I have also made nine records for the Limca Book of Records on various Indian prospects like the longest Kathi Roll in the world.
c) The largest Aalu Paratha in the world (32.5 feet) and many more.
d) Recently on 11 January 2021, we made 1101 varieties of Phirni, we decided to match the date to the number of varieties to be prepared that day.
e) Last year, Amul India brought more than one thousand people together to cook a dish called 'Aata Paneer' with me.
f) Earlier in life, I got an opportunity to work as an entrepreneur and now that I am more mature and serious about life, I plan to explore that venture again.
Such challenges are a great learning experience for me. One of my main focuses is to promote Indian cuisines on a global platform. I always motivate people around me to follow their passion and I am over the similar path. One must dream with open eyes and work towards achieving their goals. If I talk about my family, then I have my wife, who is a librarian in a public school. I have two kids, one is my daughter who studies in grade IX and son is in grade III. Both my parents were in private jobs, happily retired and now are enjoying their time at home.
2) What has the rising food culture given to the food tourism of India? How do they work upon the healthy cuisines in all states?
CHEF, VARINDER SINGH RANA: Talking about food or it's promotion anywhere round the nation, I find it connected directly by our beautiful culture, where our society is highly influenced with different food habits and parameters of cooking practices. If we speak about tourism then, it's nothing but a general way of moving from one place to another for any reason. But food tourism is something that connects one person to the other for food purposes only.
People seldom travel to taste the delicacies of different cultures round the globe. This is actually called gastronomy tourism which is now one of the vital components of tourism experiences. These days people have started importing soils from different countries and regions so that they may grow those vegetables in their lands. Though, according to me it's nothing but playing with nature. The Almighty has adjusted and planned things in a specific way but people are experimenting for their own needs and desires.
The best way of eating healthy food is to go with mother nature, for instance we can't eat cold things in Kashmir, as they are made to be enjoyed in hot climates. When people are moving round the globe, they bring cultural changes with them and food shows it's influence in the habits of people. It has made the process of transferring food recipes easily and now it is possible to get almost all recipes online. I am extremely happy to see that, nowadays food is not just seen as a necessity but, also as a way to connect to one another.
3) Is it the hard work of chef's fraternity that has increased the importance of food tourism in India or is it the sole work of our tourism ministry?
CHEF VARINDER SINGH RANA: Food promotion or propaganda at a mass scale becomes very difficult for a single body to manage everything as a whole, they always need a team for completion of any work done at a large scale. According to me, no single organization can work alone in creating a food culture for entire nation. Doing things at national level, changes are made possible only with the assistance of respective ministries.
People in chef's fraternity have to work together with the Ministry of Tourism to bring out such changes in the country. Another important role is played by the cooking community of our nation who always come up with innovative ideas. Then chef's community acts as a backbone in providing plans on making such ideas applicable. Today we have reached to a spot where organisations like FSSAI helps us to grow our reach at a larger audience and also issue guidelines regarding products reaching Indian markets.
4) What health measures would you like to suggest to our young audience so that, they understand the value of healthy cuisines?
CHEF VARINDER SINGH RANA: The saying, "Health is Wealth" clearly explains the point sufficiently. Our health is something on which, all of us are always concerned. Ones deteriorating health directly effects in the completion of several goals. Our body reflects our health in various different forms such as laziness, dizziness, etc. Other variables that decide our health factor is the source of our ingredients, it's suppliers and the mode of transport. It is advised that one must consume the ingredients grown within 50km radius only and they should not travel too much. This practice is known as the Slow Food Movement.
The sustainability of the ingredients is one of the most important aspects in today's time. We have to make sure while consuming certain resources, that those are in stock for upcoming generations to use or not? I follow the 5P formula i.e. product, people, premises, procedures and procurement. There are many other variables such as, temperature, serving procedure, etc. But above all, cooking has only one aim and i.e, to make food safe and edible.
INTERVIEWED AND PICTURE COURTESY: Chef Varinder Singh Rana.
INTERVIEW TAKEN BY: Khatibah Rehmat, Senior Journalist.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Shruti Bhushal.