Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapur says in the post-Covid situation India's hospitality sector is on the growth trajectory passing through a period when domestic tourism is on a high.
Kapur, who was talking to PTI on the sidelines of World Food Competition organised by a hotel management institute here on Thursday, said after the short break due to the covid situation when people were jittery about going out, time has come for 'revenge' tourism, dining, etc.
"When these things start to happen, the whole environment benefits, small restaurants, big ones....Growth is there as well as the willingness to spend on luxury by many, people are travelling more to different parts as domestic tourism is on a high," the 58-year old master chef said. Asked about the 'farm to table' restaurant concept, where products grown in the premises of restaurants or acquired from local farmers and served on platter after rustling up the delicacy, Kapur said, "it cuts down the time and people growing farm produce also become partners. There is also more interactivity between diners, restaurateur and farmers."
Talking about the relationship between food and culture, Kapur said "food is part of culture and any part, which is culturally rich will also be rich in it's food. So if you see history of Bengal, right? You would see that historically, there are many influences, many different kinds of influences are there and it's been absorbing many things."
"So Bengal had its own culture and then started to absorb many other things from many influence which makes the overall culture rich," the host of immensely popular TV show Khana Khazana, added. Kapur said people of Kolkata prefer giving good quality time to themselves as they know how to savour art and culture, how to relish good food.
"Why do we get good food professionals from Bengal? Why do we get musicians from Bengal? If you look at the art and culture scene, why is Kolkata rich? Since they've learnt to give time to that so richness is not only what car you have. So right from childhood I would hear from my aunt who used to say in Kolkata, that here people may not be very rich, but they would want a nice fish even if they can barely afford but they would want good quality fish nevertheless," he added. "So it's not the bank balance that they are worried about. It is the richness that they create for themselves," he reasoned about people of the city.
Observing no other city, other than Kolkata, hosts so many cooking competitions, he said it felt good to be in Kolkata. Pointing out that an international hotel conglomerate has large stakes owned by an Indian, he said "now the world has come to respect our hospitality, Indian hospitality. Start thinking, start dreaming, try to do better than Sanjib Kapur."
About the United Nations announcing this year as Year of Millets, he said "our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completely taken ownership of this for India. And that's a very good sign because the food the way we are producing, the way are eating is not that sustainable".
"We are working on monocrops and we're working on crops that need too much water. So millet is something which is easy to grow, still very nutritious. I think let's all focus rather than trying to do to too many things. This year let's focus on millets in a big way and I'm sure that it's something which can find its way here also in Kolkata, as few states traditionally have been using more millets but unfortunately Bengal is not one of them.
"But that's a good thing because it means there is a new opportunity that is there and that's how cultures evolve and that's new things come.....Influences create things which can last beyond the lifetime also. So it's time for us to focus on millets from all across, start working with it".