Journeying with chef Sanjyot Keer from Mumbai to the Cannes Film Festival

Chef Sanjyot Keer reflects on his momentous Cannes debut, shares plans to showcase regional Indian cuisine and his goals for the future

Update: 2024-06-07 12:29 GMT

In May, the world was abuzz with the dazzling Met Gala and the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, both epitomising glamour and cultural celebration. Amidst this global fanfare, Sanjyot Keer made headlines as the second Indian chef to walk the iconic Cannes red carpet, following the trail blazed by Chef Vikas Khanna. This significant moment was more than just a personal triumph; it was a celebration of Indian culinary artistry on an international stage.

We sat down with Sanjyot to delve into his Cannes experience, where he not only soaked in the cinematic magic but also championed Indian cuisine with pride. His journey from the bustling kitchens of Mumbai to the illustrious red carpet is a testament to his dedication and passion. As we explore his future projects, including travels across India to unearth regional delicacies and the expansion of his DTC brand, YFL Home, Sanjyot's story promises to inspire and entice.

Edited excerpts from the interview.

Following chef Vikas Khanna, you are titled as the second Indian chef to have graced the red carpet at Cannes. How does it feel to succeed such a legacy and own that title?
Attending the Cannes Film Festival was an incredible experience. Being named the second Indian chef after Vikas Khanna to walk the red carpet is truly humbling, especially since I worked with him on the sets of MasterChef India. I've always admired how he’s put Indian cuisine on the world map and I strive to do the same. Representing our culinary heritage on such a grand stage feels amazing. There's still so much to achieve, and I’m excited to keep promoting our beautiful cuisine globally.

What does walking the Cannes Red Carpet signify for you as a chef, and how do you think it will influence your career?
I'm not sure how it will influence my career as a chef, but walking the Cannes Red Carpet definitely creates a buzz. It introduces my work to new audiences, as people curious about me will check out what I do. Being at Cannes was more than just about my career—it was about celebrating cinema. This year, Indian cinema was in the spotlight with numerous films screened and winning awards. It was incredible to be part of such a significant moment for Indian film at an esteemed event like Cannes.

What were you most excited about regarding your participation in the Cannes Film Festival?
I was most excited about experiencing Cannes for the first time and seeing what the event is all about. Walking the red carpet, watching films, and just soaking in the atmosphere was incredible. I'm not usually one to get overly excited about such things, but I see opportunities like this as a way to represent Indian cuisine and culture on a global stage. My main focus is always on cooking and showcasing regional Indian dishes, so if events like Cannes help me achieve that, I'm all for it. Being at Cannes also felt like a tribute to all the unsung chefs who work tirelessly behind the scenes. It's wonderful to see our profession being respected and celebrated more and more, encouraging future chefs to pursue this beautiful career.

What was the inspiration behind your award winning film ‘Before we die’?
As a chef and culinary artist, I've always believed in using visual storytelling to showcase any art form. With Your Food Lab, I aimed to present food in a fresh, engaging way, setting a benchmark for food videos in India. This journey has been a team effort, especially with my director and editor, Akshay Patil, and my cinematographer, Manas.

The inspiration for our short film, "Before We Die," came from the severe water crisis affecting many parts of our country and the world. We wanted to shed light on this issue through a fictional story that reflects a harsh reality. Filmed in a village near Pune, the 36-minute short highlights the struggles people face due to water scarcity.

The film was created with the hope of raising awareness and sparking change. It has been streamed on the world's largest OTT platform, which is incredibly rewarding. Just like with Your Food Lab, where we aim to make different cuisines accessible to everyone, "Before We Die" was made to highlight an important social issue and encourage viewers to take action.

Through all my projects, whether food content or films, my goal is to create meaningful, impactful content that resonates with people and brings about positive change.

Will we get to see more of your creativity through such films in the future, apart from the storm you cook up on YFL?
Absolutely! We're always brainstorming new ideas, whether in the food space or beyond. We’ve been creating unique experiences and doing exciting collaborations, like the recent one with Ed Sheeran. Our IP ‘Chef It Up’ is another extension of this, building digital libraries and more. While there's nothing specific in the works right now, if a project comes up that interests us, we’ll definitely pursue it. So, you might just see more of our creativity in the future!

As a chef, what in your opinion was the most delectable dish offered at the festival?
The most delectable dish at the festival was from an amazing Indian spread served by Chef Varun Totlani. The entire spread was outstanding, but what made it special was when Chef Varun took me and my wife back to the kitchen and served us there. It was a truly special experience. Each year, an Indian chef showcases Indian cuisine at Cannes, and Chef Varun’s food was the best Indian food I've ever had in Europe. All credit goes to him for presenting such great Indian food at such a prestigious event.

What does it mean to you to represent India at such a multicultural event?
Representing India at such a multicultural event means a lot to me. Cannes is known as the mecca of cinema, and experiencing it firsthand was incredible. It was exciting to be there, watch world premieres, and soak in the atmosphere.

Being among the few from India to attend is a great honour. It's not just about being there but also about talking about Indian cuisine and culture, even if that's not the primary focus of the event. These opportunities allow me to meet new people, collaborate with other artists, and showcase my art. Any platform like this is a fantastic chance for an artist to express themselves and make meaningful connections.

With yet another feather in your hat, what are some projects or goals you look forward to now?
This year is packed with exciting new projects. I plan to travel across India to explore and document more regional cuisines, unknown recipes, ingredients and stories to share with the world. More collaborations are in the works, aiming to highlight unique recipes. The third season of "Chef It Up" will be happening soon. I'm also focused on building my DTC brand, YFL Home, which is going strong. Although it's only the fifth month of 2024, there are many amazing things lined up for the rest of the year!


Similar News