In Conversation With Chef Saransh Goila
By Bhuvaneshwari Sivakumar, Foodie Correspondent
Known in the food circles as the ‘Sadak Chef’, SaranshGoila is a vibrant persona with a love for life. He is twenty-seven, he is fun to be around and most importantly, he can talk. A lot. Thanks to him, we don’t have to worry about filling the gaps. Yet, he is so lively that it is difficult to encapsulate in a few 100 words all that we witnessed.
Addressing a gathering of 20 odd people in the soothing ambience of Zo Café on a late Tuesday evening, Saransh talked about his first love – camera (surprise!), food, travel, cuisines, and recounted his first culinary experience.
He always had a love for theatre, and his passion for it began in school. Pursuing it even further, he went on to do a 6 month course with the famous theatre director Barry John. And after that came the struggle. Quipping about it, he says, “I struggled for 2 years, which apparently people believe cannot be called one, for struggling for 2 years is not really long.”
Adamant on doing food television, and absolutely averse to joining hotels and restaurants, in this pursuit, he met NDTV Good Times, FoodFood(when it was still in its stages of development),Fox and TLC. Although repeatedly told by allof them that it is a great combination – “you can act and you can cook too” nothing really materialized for Saransh. It was only after Food Foodhad called him to audition for a reality show “Food FoodMaha Challenge”that he got his first break. He recounts, “I still very pleasantly remember, when I had won the show, you know they burst crackers and everything, yeah, I didn’t react at all. So much so it was 3 in the night and I didn’t react because I didn’t know what to do. So I had won, fine, but what now? That was what was running in my head already! They had to do those fireworks again and only later they told me that the winner of the show gets to do his own show on TV. Then they got all the reactions out of me.”
According to him, cooking abilities alone won’t pave the way for you if you are on television. When you are on TV, a lot of things work for you. Your personality and character add a great deal to your overall appeal. It depends a lot on what you bring to the screen. Try observing Saransh, both onscreen and off-screen, and you’ll know what he is talking about!
Tidbits from the Q&A session:
Q. Being from a modern generation of chefs, what is your opinion about molecular and reconstructed food?
A. I have never used any molecular gastronomic techniques. I personally think that it does not work for Indian cuisines. No matter what lengths you are willing to go to, you can make a butter chicken foam, but it does not work for me. It works as a theme for a month or for a week. I don’t think it works as a restaurant which functions all across the industry.
Q. Do you plan to continue with television side by side even when you open your restaurant?
A. Like I said, my first love is television. I am very clear about it, never been pretentious about it. I am first and foremost a TV personality. Camera is my first love and food is like an affair!
Being a successful chef on television does not necessarily mean that I will be a successful restaurateur. They are not linked. It is a tricky place to be in. The only way you can pull it off, which I am struggling with as well is, to train 2 or 3 people who can understand you and then they follow the same vision. Find people with the same wavelength, get it together, and open a restaurant, only then can you market it. I can’t be making it and marketing it too. It is impossible.
Q. Food festivals are common now, but what do you make of Food Films?
A. Awesome question! The dream is to make a food film. If you notice, it has already begun. Lunchbox was a food film. Jodha Akbar had such a huge food sequence – they actually had real halwais who cooked real food. This whole sequence was shot in real time, and they cooked for masses. The food shots in Lunchbox were unbelievable. The time she was making that kofta, oh my god, my mouth started watering, it still is! Food shows are no longer the same. The vision has changed. It is more story-based now. If I am a 27 year old guy, who lives on his own in Bombay, my profile tells me that I should be doing a show on these same lines.
This country has 220 cuisines, I have actually counted. I believe in travelling, I believe in learning from people, I believe in learning any cuisine that comes my way, though I choose to be an Indian specialist, because I can relate to it the most.
People who don’t know, I used to weigh 95kgs, now I am 66! A friend from college once asked “Why don’t you become one of those chefs who are very fit?” Eight years back, I couldn’t think of a chef who was fit. And, he was right. He planted that idea in my head. I ran every day for 2 years, no gym, I hate them, no diets,and I believe that there is a ‘die’ in diet, no diet, never.
Travel changes you as a person and also as a chef. I still remember, on the ninth day of “Roti, Rasta aur India” I had a huge fight with the crew that “You don’t have the right knife for me to chop the vegetables with; you are making me squeeze lemons with my hand.” I had to make some saag, and obviously I chopped as finely as I could with my knife, which was blunt. After 15 days of shooting, my first episode went on air, and among the first messages I ever got in my life, I received one which said “It was so good to see you squeezing lemons with your hand.” It was enlightening! I never thought someone would want to see me use my hands! I realized that at the end of the day we are dealing with common people, and they like things which are basic and are easier to do back in their houses.
We wish Saransh the best of luck for all his future endeavours, and also thank ThnkMkt for organizing this amazing interactive session!
Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.