Tuesday January 23, 2018

Diversity in cuisines is good for development, says a chef

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British chef, Adam Simmonds, says adopting varieties in cuisines is for the betterment for the country
Diversity in cuisines is good for development, says a chef. wikimedia commons
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New Delhi, Dec 28, 2017: Chinese, Indian and Spanish dishes are welcomed with open arms in the UK, says British chef Adam Simmonds, who also believes that having a diverse cuisine is good for the development of a country.

Asked which cuisine is most popular in London, Simmonds told IANS here: “It has become so diverse now. In London, it is so multicultural. There are so many amazing Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Spanish cuisines available. They are just growing massively. The UK as a whole, and not just London, has some of the best cooking in the world for sure.”

“It is only enhancing the UK as a Mecca for food. Every country needs to develop and to have different cuisines… the whole thing is brilliant,” he added.

The owner of The Test Kitchen, which is a pop-up located in Soho, London, was here for the launch of Gurugram-based delivery-cum-dine-in kitchen concept — The Trial. It is a blend of chefs, entrepreneurs and innovative food concepts.

“What I am trying to do back home is to try to bring interaction from the restaurant into the kitchen. There are no barriers. It’s about engaging the customer more within the cooking,” he said.

And that’s what he is trying to do at The Trial.

“There are three types of chefs here. If the concept fits, one of us will work on it,” said the chef, who enjoys cooking Scandinavian food.

“It is a concept that I believe in. So, I thought it was a great project to be involved with. Indians are travelling more. They go abroad a lot. They like the style of food; so why can’t something like that work in this country?”

After his maiden visit to India earlier this month, he hopes to return to the country soon and learn more about the indigenous spices.

“I would like to learn how to work with spices properly and to understand it. In my next trip, I would like to see some grassroot stuff to help me understand more about the culture and food,” said the chef, who has been to The Maldives, Denmark, France, Spain and Netherlands.

Simmonds believes there is a “skill-set” in cooking .

And there’s a “great skill level in cooking fish” which is why he likes to prepare dishes with fish as the star ingredient.

He is also a fan of food that is very light and not too robust.

“With the lightness, you get to know all the flavours. If there are just two to three items on the plate, you can showcase your skill set. You can’t hide behind the flavours. It’s about making it clean and vibrant,” said the former head chef of Ynyshir Hall, which won a Michelin Star in 2006.

But it’s not easy being a chef.

“There are long working hours, it’s stressful and you are criticised. You are constantly judged on each and every dish. People think they know more. It is quite difficult sometimes, but you have to accept it,” said Simmonds.

“If you do crack it and enjoy it, it’s the best industry to be in,” he added. (IANS)

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Listening for Well-being : Arun Maira Talks About a Democracy in Crisis, Unsafe Social Media and More in his Latest Book

Maira asserts that we must learn to listen more deeply to 'people who are not like us' in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race.

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Arun Maira
Arun Maira (extreme left), during a public event in 2009. Wikimedia
  • Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira’s latest book is titled ‘Listening for Well-Being’
  • Maira observes that physical and verbal violence in the world and on social media is continuously growing
  • He also highlights the importance of ‘hearing each other’ in order to create truly inclusive and democratic societies

New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira contends that “physical violence” in the real world and “verbal violence” on social media against people whom “we do not approve of” are increasing today. With such trends on the rise, the very idea of democracy finds itself in a crisis.

The solution?

“We need to listen more deeply to people who are not like us,” said the much-respected management consultant, talking of his latest book, “Listening for Well-Being”, and sharing his perspective on a wide range of issues that he deals with.

“Violence by people against those they dislike, for whatever reason, is increasing. It has become dangerous to post a personal view on any matter on social media. Responses are abusive. There is no respect for another’s dignity. People are also repeatedly threatened with physical violence.”

He said that gangs of trolls go after their victims viciously. “Social media has become a very violent space. Like the streets of a run-down city at night… not a safe space to roam around in.”

At the same time, streets in the physical world are becoming less safe too. “Any car or truck on the road can suddenly become a weapon of mass destruction in a ‘civilised’ country: in London, Berlin, Nice, or Barcelona,” Maira told IANS in an interview.

Maira said that with the rise of right-wing parties that are racist and anti-immigrant, there is great concern in the Western democratic world — in the US, the UK and Europe — that democracy is in a crisis.

In the US, for example, supporters of Donald Trump, Maira said, believe only what Trump says and watch only the news channels that share a similar ideology. On the other side are large numbers of US citizens who don’t believe what Trump says but they too have their own preferred news sources.

“They should listen to each other, and understand each other’s concerns. Only then can the country be inclusive. And also truly democratic — which means that everyone has an equal stake and an equal voice,” he noted.

In “Listening for Well-Being” (Rupa/Rs 500/182 Pages), Arun Maira shows his readers ways to use the power of listening. He analyses the causes for the decline in listening and proposes solutions to increase its depth in private and public discourse.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a leading strategist, he emphasises that by listening deeply, especially to people who are not like us, we can create a more inclusive, just, harmonious and sustainable world for everyone.

But it would be wrong to say that the decline in listening is only restricted to the Western world.

“We have the same issues in India too. We are a country with many diverse people. We are proud of our diversity. However, for our country to be truly democratic, all people must feel they are equal citizens.

“The need for citizens to listen to each other is much greater in India than in any other country because we are the most diverse country, and we want to be democratic. So, we must learn to listen more deeply to ‘people who are not like us’ in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race,” he maintained.

Maira also said that India is a country with a very long and rich history. And within the present boundaries of India are diverse people, with different cultures, different religions, and of different races.

“So, we cannot put too sharp a definition on who is an ‘Indian’ — the language they must speak, the religion they must follow, or the customs they must adopt. Because, then we will exclude many who do not have the same profiles, and say they are not Indians. Thus we can falsely, and dangerously, divide the country into ‘real Indians’ and those who are supposedly non-Indians. Indeed, such forces are rising in India,” he added.

Maira, 74, hoped that all his readers will appreciate that listening is essential to improve the world for everyone. He also maintained that it is not a complete solution to any of the world’s complex problems but by listening to other points of view, we can prevent conflict and also devise better solutions.

Born in Lahore, Arun Maira received his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Physics from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College. He has also authored two bestselling books previously, “Aeroplane While Flying: Reforming Institutions” and “Upstart in Government: Journeys of Change and Learning”. (IANS)