Ranveer Brar, India's renowned chef, is bringing his brand to Brampton
Brar is coming to Canada after huge success in India and the United States
Chef Ranveer Brar says food is his soul.
The son of an aeronautical engineer, he started street cooking at 16 when he helped vendors in his hometown of Lucknow, India, dry charcoal and grind spices. Now the owner of two restaurants in Boston and seven restaurants in India — he's opening the eighth on his birthday next month — is launching a new eatery in Brampton.
Brar, who is massively popular in India as a judge on Master Chef India and a number of other food television shows, was approached by Brampton locals Bhupinder Sidhu and Parminder Gill to open the new venture.
In a space formerly occupied by a pub, Mayura will open on County Court Drive next month.
Brar sat down with CBC Toronto's Stephanie Matteis for a sneak peek at what's to come.
Matteis: Why get involved in this restaurant?
Brar: I love my restaurants in Boston but sometimes when you fall into a format you're kind of driven by it. There's a format. There's a partner. It's working. So let's not mess it up. But here is your chance to say, 'Let's wipe the slate clean. Let's start fresh,' saying, 'Hey, this is what Indian food is.' I'd love for this restaurant to be all encompassing.There's a lot of great produce that's available here. It's exciting as a chef to walk into a supermarket and say the spinach smiles at you. The vegetables smile at you. And it's very, very exciting to use that produce which is not Indian, which is hyper local and use Indian flavours. And that opens a whole new world of Indian cooking.For example, local scallops cooked with subtle Indian spicing and a very tiny portion of mung bean ragu.
Matteis: What I'm hearing from you is, forget the saag paneer, forget the chana masala and butter chicken. You're not going to come here (to Mayura) for that.
Brar: We have a line (on the menu) which says "all your Indian, known Indian dishes are available. Just ask your server." That's where we've just left it. While it's there, it's not something that we really want to talk about. Instead, Brar gave an example of creating crab cakes after having a remarkable meal at a Niagara winery that featured crab. It's all Indian. In the inspiration-space that's one dish. Crab cakes with Canadian crab with a subtle Indian spicing in a tamarind sauce and pickled beet roots.
Matteis: Tell me about kabobs.
Brar: I am from the city of kabobs. Lucknow is the city of kabobs. At this point I'm very tempted to look at the camera and talk about Lucknow kabobs. I trained under a kabob vendor. Kabobs come naturally to me. I told our executive chef, I will not do a big menu. I want you to be able to execute it well. And when I started making it we had like 25 kabobs by the end of it(laughs). Food should flirt with the palette. If the food doesn't flirt with your palette then it's not fun enough. And kabobs have the ability to do that. That slight spiciness, the slight tanginess, the slight earthiness. For the whole interplay to kind of stimulate the senses.
What's in a name?
Matteis: Mayura means peacock.
Brar: The whole point of Mayura is the buoyancy of colours, the way it comes together. Mayura is peacock. That's what our food philosophy revolves around. We are a colourful country.
Matteis: What can you tell me about this location?
Brar: Well, I've been in Brampton for exactly four and a half days.
Matteis: So, for you it was more about lending your name, partnering?
Brar: For me, it was working with like-minded people. Location-wise from whatever I've seen, we're right here off 407. We're looking to get a lot of the Mississauga crowd. The Brampton crowd is right here. And the restaurant here before did very well.
In Brampton, the ninth largest city in Canada, nearly 60 per cent of residents identify as South Asian Canadian.
Matteis: There are a lot of naanee and daadee (maternal and paternal grandparents) who can rival your cooking.
Brar: They're better than me.
Matteis: I didn't want to say but...
Brar: They're potential customers!
Matteis: But, are they?
Brar: Anywhere in the world there is royal food and there is commoner food. Essentially eat at the restaurant or eat on the street. But Indian food evolved in three spaces. Home kitchens were a big space for food evolution and we have never given them enough credit. I don't think it's about rivaling. I think it's about championing a cause and the same cause that they stand for. The recognition of Indian food like how it should be recognized.