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Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi
While some of chefs have their meals critiqued by guests, Chef Harpal faces his toughest critics at home at every meal time! Whenever this father-of-two daughters cooks meals for his family, the critics in his kids don’t mince words while telling him what they do and don’t like about the food he’s cooked for them.
“It’s definitely challenging to assemble a repertoire of sure-fire dishes that the whole family likes so I don’t have to cook separate dishes at any meal,” says Chef Harpal, who lives in Mumbai with his wife Aparna and their daughters Anushka (eleven) and Antra (nine). “I love Indian food and all the spices that go into it. My kids agree with me wholeheartedly though sometimes I find myself making Asian and International food too. My daughters definitely love to be involved in the kitchen when I am cooking for them and occasionally they help in cutting and stirring the dishes too.”
Growing up with two older sisters and one brother, Chef Harpal was inspired by his parents when it came to cooking. “Food to me is symbolic of family,” says Chef Harpal, who dreams of running a restaurant one day. “I have great memories of my family sitting around the table eating, and my mum loved to have a lot of dinner parties. I used to love hanging around the kitchen watching her cook.”
“Dad influenced me too. He was employed with the Indian Railways and travelled a lot on work, so was culturally aware and wanted us kids to try as many different foods as we could. Mind you, in those days, having a Chinese meal or trying something like garlic prawns was a big deal!”
Although his parents instilled a love of cooking in him, it wasn’t until 1987 when he completed his Catering diploma from Institute of Hotel Management, Bhubaneswar and set out as a Chef in the hospitality industry that he truly got to indulge his passion. He grew as a chef learning various cuisines until he got the chance to work with an old time Ustad (expert) in Hyderabadi cuisine, Ustad Habib Pasha and travelled the by lanes of Hyderabad to learn more about the intricacies of Hyderabadi cuisine. Begum Mumtaz Khan, an authority in Hyderabadi cuisine, further helped him in enhancing his knowledge.
“Personally I love watching cookery and travel shows primarily because it tells you about the cultures of various countries. I’ve been privileged to have got the chance to travel extensively and eat at some amazing restaurants across the world which further enabled me to learn more about food. I like to spend a lot of time cooking and my cooking style is often driven by my passion to play around with ingredients. I cook with whatever is available and create unique dishes.”
His quest for knowledge left him hungering for more and this led to his research on the link between Ayurveda and food. Chef Harpal strongly believes that today people are very health conscious and India cannot have a better blend of food and health if the Ayurveda beliefs were missing. “I believe in ‘Cook well to eat well’ policy”, says he.
Now he is with Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor of the Khana Khazana fame, with whom he shares the dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world. And when two such talents endeavour together their goal would be reached soon. Chef Harpal’s family has been very supportive of his dream and love to watch him as host of cookery shows Turban Tadka and Sirf Tees Minute on FoodFood channel.
Hosts the very popular Turban Tadka cookery show on FoodFood channel as also Sirf Tees Minute.
Conducted taste temptation theatre culinary workshop along with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, a show that also had other Celebrity Chefs like Chef Leslie Waters, Chef Anthony Warrel.
Participated in World Gourmet Summit in Beijing, organized by Singapore Airlines.
Currently active in conceptualizing and developing Ready to Eat, Ready to Cook, Gourmet Chutneys, Pickle products for KHAZANA brand.
Developing various book contents for Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor.
Developing business plans for Chain of Fine Dining restaurants, QSR’s, Mall Modules and Kiosks.
Analyzing weekly operations of franchise restaurants.
Researching Indian Food and Consumer habits.
Leading a team for conducting Food trials for various cuisines for data bank.
Formulating opening plans for Contemporary Fusion restaurants.
Supervising creation of Manuals for new Food and Beverage outlets.
Chef Harpal has organized various Indian food festivals at the international level.
He has received a letter of appreciation from the Australian High Commission praising the quality of food as the best in the country.
Achieved the highest revenue for any Food promotion held in Regent Jakarta till date. He has also conducted the most successful Cooking schools at the Regent Jakarta and The Peninsula Manila.
Hosted the first ever episode of the programme Khana Khazana on ZEE TV in the year 1993.
Designed menus for all outlets except Chinese at The Regent Mumbai. Participated in Management Programmes conducted there and also been part of the team trained by The Regent International trainers.
Conceptualized and executed the opening of Khazana an Indian specialty restaurant in Dubai for Khana Khazana India Pvt. Ltd. The restaurant Khazana has been running successfully in Dubai and has won the best new entry restaurants award in Dubai in the year 1998.
Conducted the most successful Ancient Indian Food Promotion on Indian Airlines, which won the Silver Medal in the IFCA awards in Germany.
Developed menus for SOTC for two consecutive years; done a complete survey of food being served in Europe for SOTC.
Headed a team for creating diabetic Indian desserts, and has experience in conceptualizing new range of chocolate mithais for FMCG companies.
Developed recipes for Wockhardt for Oncology and Nephrology patients.
Music lover and is fluent in English and five Indian languages - Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya and Telugu.