If one remembers the all-time favorite and perhaps one of India’s first cookery shows, one can never forget the aura of Sanjeev Kapoor. India’s most celebrated chef and the owner of ventures that are valued at over Rs 1,000, Sanjeev Kapoor remains flawless for years. Kapoor gives out pearls of entrepreneurial wisdom as freely as he shares recipes of his popular dishes. It might come as a surprise that Khana Khazana initially was planned to have a different chef each episode, but audiences were so charmed by Kapoor’s presence to an extent that he took over the complete show. And what followed in itself was a series of great adventures.
In his own words, there’s no secret recipe to success but if one keeps things simple, then success might come howling. Just like his recipes, Kapoor keeps his life and advises away from extra mirch masala. This is his story.
Sanjeev Kapoor first hit the limelight in 1992 with his cookery show- ‘Khana Khazana’
Sanjeev Kapoor was born in 1964 in Ambala. As his father worked in the State Bank of India, Sanjeev traveled to different parts of the country due to regular transfers. Though his schooling happened in different cities, his scores never compromised. Sanjeev never wanted to do what his cousins were doing and thus opted for Hotel Management. He received a diploma in Hotel Management from the Institute of Hotel Management Catering & Nutrition, Pusa, New Delhi.
In 1984, he first began his career in Hotel Management and after working in many different positions and restaurants, he became the youngest Executive Chef of Centaur Hotel in Mumbai in the year 1992. He was just 27 years old at that time.
Though being a chef came much random to him and he never thought of cooking as his career. It was rather spontaneous yet he managed to pull it off just fine. In 1992, Kapoor was appointed as the main host of the Indian culinary channel ‘Khana Khazana’. In 2009, he opened his new venture of Cookware named Wonderchef. Today his business ventures range from cookware and appliances brands to several restaurant chains in India and abroad. He owns a total of 59 restaurants and has a food channel ‘FoodFood’ under his name. These ventures together create him a revenue of over Rs 500 crore.
Sharing his experience as a Food host, Kapoor says that he never acted in front of the camera, he just cooked and the camera followed. There was nothing scripted and what he performed came out natural. Maybe such was the simplicity of the show that it became the longest-running show with telecast in over 120 countries. For 18 straight years, Kapoor’s ‘Khana Khazana’ dominated the landscape of Indian cuisine.
Sanjeev Kapoor has authored over 150 cookbooks and 10,000 recipes on his online portal. He is also working closely with poor kids and adults suffering from autism by raising funds for Forum for Autism NGO. He also gives employment opportunities to such people in order to help their families.
During the lockdown, Kapoor distributed free food among the poor. He also collaborated with the Akshay Patra Foundation, Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), and Chef José Andre of the World Central Kitchen to distribute food in hospitals for the hospital staff. Over 25,000 meals would be prepared daily by his kitchen and supplied to around 36 hospitals.
For his activism, the UN has now appointed him as the Indian Ambassador of their Clean Cookstoves Campaign. He was also awarded by the Maharashtra government as a Covid warrior for his tremendous contribution.
In 2017, he was honored with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest Indian national honor. He won a National Award of ‘Best Chef of India’ by the Government of India for his contribution to Indian cuisine. Apart from this, he had been a panel judge for Master Chef India Season 3 and 4.
Tracing back his footprints, we remember a time when sitting in front of the television over an evening tea and enjoying Khana Khazana became a routine for many Indians. Especially our mothers would often sit with a pen and paper noting down bit by bit of Kapoor’s incredible recipes.