How about making some dishes for the hungry, chef?

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New Delhi, Jan 17: He is happy that chefs are stepping out of their kitchens and are now running television shows and attaining celebrity status.

India's ex-top chef, however, feels that they now need to do their bit to feed the hungry, especially those affected by calamities.

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Preparing food for Presidents and Prime Ministers does pose a challenge but it was a special opportunity when he was part of team of chefs to make food for Syrian refugees at Le Richmond Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland this year, says Machhindra Kasture who worked as executive chef at the Rashtrapati Bhawan for a record 8 years.

He was also involved in preparing a charity brunch to raise funds for 'Beyond Food Foundation' in London in 2014, he says.

In 2013, Kasture was in New York to offer his culinary specialities to homeless of Manhattan at Xavier Mission.

"We do have associations of chefs here in India. They can and should take initiatives", Kasture says.

"People, especially children these days are not keen to eat traditional food and prefer junk food. Programmes in schools in informing children and mothers about the necessity of nutrition by a chef can make a lot of difference," he says.

He believes that the cookery shows are becoming hugely popular and have encouraged people to take this profession.

"Programmes like 'Master Chef' and ones by Indian chefs have become hugely popular and not only changed the image of a chef but also encouraged many to take up the profession," he says.

Kasture, suggests that the chef bodies can step in and help the authorities to cook healthy food for the victims of calamities like the Chennai floods.

"Calamities like the recent one in Chennai floods pose a challenge to authorities to feed people. The chefs bodies can step in and suggest food that is healthy and that can be served in such conditions," Kasture says.

Kasture, who is working with the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), however, is not happy with the new trend that is setting in of 'fusion food'.

"Indian food will remain Indian so will Chinese. The two can not mix. There is lot of difference between Kashmiri cuisine and South Indian food. One just cannot make a dosa with a Kashmiri touch. That will kill traditional food in the country, he feels.

Having tickled the taste buds of global leaders during his stint at Rashtrapati Bhawan Kasture says he can only look back with satisfaction when he recalls the test that he had to be ready for almost every day he spent as the country's top chef.

"It is a test any chef worth his salt would dream to give meals for VVIPs from world over to be made with an Indian touch but to suit their tastes and many a time at a short notice. Appreciation, if at all, from the hosts or the guests would be icing on the cake," Chef Kasture says.

"I have always tried to give dignitaries from foreign countries authentic and the best from our land", he says.

"The effort was to twist and temper the Indian food to give the dishes a continental look for a visiting dignitary. I used different Indian ingredients to give the dishes a continental touch", Kasture says.

"The banquets for US President Barack Obama provided a rare opportunity. The dishes served were Indian with a touch of continental. These included Dhania Paneer Roll, Kamal Kebab with Pineapple halwa and henna Payes for desserts".

I tried to give a variety of delicacies from east, west, north and south India, he says. Kasture hosted two banquets for the US President Barack Obama, once during former President Pratibha Patil's tenure and second during the incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee's term.

The master chef who hails from Maharashtra recalls when Maharashtrian special dish- 'Puran Poli' was tasted by the US President Barack Obama. Maharashtra cuisine is rich and healthy but like traditional cuisine in many other states, it is losing out to the junk food that is preferred by the younger generation.

The Marathi cuisine deserves to be introduced and made popular world over, he feels. He may be an expert chef but when at home it is his wife who is the master, Kasture says adding that many a time she is not only critical of the dishes he makes but also provides suggestions that he meticulously makes note of and implements.

PTI

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