I have always felt a creative energy within me; my father loves to cook and experiment with food and entertain guests. Thus, watching my father experiment with food led to my culinary adventure. When you work in a tough and competitive corporate front, you don’t get much space for creativity. IT/Telecom is a structured environment where my decisions impact the lives of many as it deals with technology, finance and program management. The most liberating aspect of cooking is that I don’t have to play by the rules. I can let my imagination soar and try different things without any fear of failure. It’s mostly about creative satisfaction and sharing my experience with others. I still have a long way to go before addressing myself as a ‘chef,’ so for now, I’d rather be addressed as ‘an experimental home cook.’
Moreover, my love for cooking stems from being a Bangladeshi; I grew up in a family where food is celebrated. Both my parents would cook and serve delicious healthy meals every day. I could always see the amount of effort and care that goes into cooking even for your own family members. Hence I have a myriad of emotions and memories attached to this art.
During my time as a Masterchef contestant, I was among a bunch of amazing and talented people. One thing that really moved me is how people relate food to their lives and how they incorporate their roots into it. I think I appreciate Bangladeshi cuisine more because I understand the importance of memories and emotions in cooking. In the process, I’ve also learnt to express myself more.
For those who want to go down this road, first you have to look at cooking as a form of art. You have to study and do your research. If you want to pursue a career in this, there are university courses or diplomas that you can get into. There are tons of materials online; you have to spend time reading and then trying out different techniques.
Changing your mindset is also equally important; in our country when we consider the word ‘chef’ we instantly think about someone who only dabbles in foreign cuisine. You need to do think of ways in which you can modernise Bangladeshi cuisine, rather than doing something with foreign foods. Look what Gaggan Anand is doing with Indian food or Massimo Bottura with Italian. You may not be able to whip up pasta better than an Italian chef because it’s something they’ve mastered from their roots, but maybe you can cook up pasta with Bangladeshi flavours and ingredients to turn things up a notch.