Celebrity Chef Vicky Ratnani Casting His Culinary Magic Globally
He is dashing, he is stylish, he is cool, but hey….. he can also cook. The only man in one Chef Vicky Ratnani!!
Chef Vicky Ratnani – the name sure does ring a bell, loud and clear! Even as a child, his love for food took him into corners of his home where children rarely venture, such as the kitchen! However, it was this very ‘wonderful’ attitude that led him to discover his passion for food. Soon after, Vicky emerged from his home in the leafy suburbs of Mumbai, graduated from the prestigious Dadar Catering College (Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai) and set sail to pursue his dreams – quite literally! He gained a royal appointment aboard Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), where he engaged with various global culinary traditions. After six world cruises that took him through many, many markets of the world along the way, Vicky went on to live and learn in Genoa, Italy. Among the many feathers in his cap, the one that stands out as the brightest is that of his achievement of being the Personal Chef to Mr. Nelson Mandela, on his journey from Durban to Cape Town while Mr. Mandela was promoting his charitable venture.
Vicky’s finesse led him to leap into the lap of opportunity and be a part of the opening team for Queen Mary 2 (QM2). In preparation for this voyage, Vicky taught at the White Star Chef’s Training School on board QE2, in Manila and St. Nazaire, training over 180 chefs. Vicky also opened up the Britannia Restaurant & Kitchen – the largest restaurant at sea during its Inaugural Opening in 2004 and then progressed to the position of Executive Sous Chef of the QM2. Vicky then moved on to become Executive Chef for Queen Victoria. As of 2010, he was the first and only Indian Executive Chef in the history of the Cunard Line.
After moving back to Mumbai, Vicky took over Aurus. Docked by the sea, this was a haven for all food lovers who enjoyed good food and great global cuisines. Aurus was frequented by the city’s well-heeled and Vicky had all of them eating out of his hands! His menu was a reflection of quality produce and innovative technique with a cutting-edge method of food presentation.
After Aurus, Vicky moved on to set up Nido, an all-day bistro in Mumbai. The menu here was a confluence of seasonal produce, old favorites, classic dishes, and modern progressive food.
In 2014, Vicky joined EverStone Capital and revamped the brands under their belt. He was also responsible for tweaking flavors for Burger King India and working on new flavors for the Indian Market.
In 2015, Vicky was voted Chef of the Year in India at the Indian Restaurant Awards.
Thanks to television, Vicky’s popularity has quadrupled due to shows like Vickypedia, A Taste Down Under (shot in Australia), Vicky Goes Desi, Vicky Goes Foreign, Gourmet Central, Vicky Goes Veg, Pressure Cooker, Sanjeev Kapoor ke Kitchen Khiladi, and Health Mange More. Vicky has also launched a book on global vegetarian food with an Indian twist called Vicky Goes Veg, published by Harper Collins. It is available at all major bookstores and e-commerce platforms. In 2016, this book won a Gourmand Award for ‘Best Vegetarian Cookbook India’.
His restaurant in Mumbai called The Korner House by Chef Vicky won ‘Best Restaurant – European Cuisine’ at the 2017 Times Food Awards.
In a interview, Vicky tells us more about his life and his passion.
Vicky, it is a true honor to have you as our guest. Tell us about your journey as a celebrity chef.
Thank you for having me at Urbanasian. So, I always loved eating and loved food. Eating out with friends and family was a routine. I enjoyed eating anything and trying new dishes. I use to smell food before eating. I had this amazing bond with food. Visiting different hotels and restaurants was bliss and I enjoyed the atmosphere. The feeling of being in a hotel and being entertained was amazing. I was a dreamer and did broke the family norm and refused to take over dad’s business. And this was it. There was a passion for food and that what made me choose the career.
Tell us about your Gastronaut Series….
The Gastronaut is a web series filmed all the way from Lima, Peru. Mistura Food festival is the biggest food festival in Latin America. As a chef, it is really important to travel and leave your comfort zone to find out new possibilities in the culinary world. So for me, the quest for travel is always there and this series has some great entertainment.
What is your favorite spice?
I like to use various spices. There is cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, black pepper. I find nutmeg pretty cool spice.
What brings tears to your eyes in the kitchen?
Dirty Kitchen and shaggy chefs! (lol)
What are you looking in a dish as a diner when someone cooks for you?
How fresh is the produce and then taste, taste, and taste!
Vicky, what are your 5 favorite places to eat in the world? And what is your favorite cuisine?
That is a very harsh question. The world is full of good cuisines. I enjoy food from Amritsar, Lucknow, Malaysia, New Orleans in the USA, Tamil. Food is great everywhere. No discrimination.
With International ingredients now so easily available, where do you see the culinary world in the next few years?
I think cuisine does not have any ethnic boundaries. It is just a matter of learning to use the ingredient. There on only one good possibility and that is some great collaborations among the chefs around the world.
Tell us that event that changed your life completely.
It was those days of starvation. I pledged I will never waste any kind of food and began to cook stem to leaves.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Biryani and Mithai.
Have you cooked private event? Tell us about your experience.
I have provided with some cool concepts and consultation for some huge wedding events. Cooking in Australia and in Prince Edwards Island in Canada were some of the amazing experiences. I love cooking with fresh seafood like lobster is one of them.
What is your message to amateur cooks?
Only if you really enjoy cooking then go for the career as a chef. Focus, practice, explore and read. Get inspiration from nature.