Bengaluru chef's tasty tales with Ranbir and Alia
As private chef to Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, this Bengalurean whips up a variety of meals for the couple, including bisi bele bath, idli and dosae
A year ago if you had told chef Ramaskanda Shastry that he’d be the private chef to Bollywood stars, the 25-year-old might have dismissed it. But that’s exactly how things have panned out for the young chef who grew up in south Bengaluru. Now, living in Mumbai as the private chef to Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, Shastry is getting a glimpse into the lives of movie stars.
Living at the couple’s home in Mumbai, Shastry is on call 24/7. “I love it. I love that I have the liberty and freedom to cook in a private kitchen for stars like Ranbir and Alia,” he says, adding that they are very experimental in their flavours.
While the stars’ professions are such that they are always following calorie-restricted diets, Shastry is used to working around with such requirements. “Both Alia and Ranbir are open to experimentation, which means that they are willing to try something new that I prepare. Alia loves cheela and Ranbir loves any home-style food. When he wants a cheat meal though, he craves some good pasta,” explains Shastry, who points out that the couple doesn’t cook and leaves it to him to whip up their meals. He has also made south Indian dishes for them, some dosae, idli and sambhar. “They love it. In fact, Ranbir quite enjoys it when I make bisi bele bath for him,” he says with pride.
Growing up, Shastry had two passions — music and cooking. While he’s a trained Carnatic classical musician who has collaborated with city-band Beat Gurus, in 2014, he decided to take his love for cooking to a professional level and went to study at Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA), a constituent unit of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal. Post-graduation, he worked in commercial kitchens before taking up this role.
“I’ve been working for them for the last six months. I started assisting chef Harsh Dixit two years ago and it’s through him that I got this gig.” So, what is life like as a private chef? “It’s not bad at all. I’m available throughout the day and I prefer to work all week too. In case I do take time off, I make sure that I keep the recipes simple so the substitute staff can prepare the meal without hassle.
When the couple is travelling for work, I usually accompany them and work out of a kitchen from there,” he says, adding, “In commercial kitchens, you have a lot of people to help you out which is great. You also cook in large quantities. But it takes a lot of hard work and time to reach the level you want to, and sometimes when you do reach that stage, you don’t get to cook anymore. I don’t have such a barrier as a private chef here.”
The young chef is looking at this role as one that will steer his personal growth. “I am not restricted to making only one type of cuisine or one task in the kitchen. Apart from their diet restrictions, I have the freedom to cook from across kitchens,” he says. When Ranbir and Alia have friends over, Shastry puts on his thinking cap. “If it’s about 10 people or less, I prepare the food. That’s always fun,” he says, adding that Ranbir and Alia treat him like family. “They are very humble and I love that about them.”