If there’s anyone we’re excited to see whip up a caramel Cointreau orange cake or an Amritsari Fish Pakoras on TV, it’s Ravinder Bhogal. After being proclaimed the new Betty Cradock in celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word, the plucky Kenyan-born beauty rose from anonymity, went on to publish her award-winning cookbook Cook in Boots, and now has a show on TLC called Ravinder’s Kitchen. The 20-part series, which premiered on June 13, takes audiences on a scrumptious journey from her Indian Punjabi roots to memorable holidays in Spain.
Before all this, however, Ravinder was already heating things up in the kitchen. Ever since she was five years old, the London-based chef has been passionate about cooking. Her mother, she says, has always been a fantastic cook; there was nothing the woman made that she didn’t like, from steaming cups of Indian chai with crispy bhajias to samosas and simple food such as dhal and rice. But while her mother pushed her on the journey to becoming a kitchen goddess, her main inspiration for her cooking has always been her grandfather.
“My grandfather, you know, he made cooking very fun. So he bought me a little stove when I was a child that could light up. And I was making chapatis and – on this stove and I’d burn them and they’d be terrible. But, you know, nonetheless, he would eat them and he’d always say to me, you know, ‘That’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. You’re so talented.’ And I think it really encouraged me because I contribute–you know, I associated food and love. I thought, ‘Gosh, if you cook for people, they’ll love you.’ So, you know, that was kind of my first inspiration really for cooking,” says Ravinder.
“And, you know, in terms of what I used to eat as a child, well, my grandfather and I would always have our secret trips. He was diabetic, you see, so he wasn’t allowed to eat very sweet things. But once a week, we would sneak off to a fabulous ice cream parlour called Sno-Cream and we would indulge on this most delicious ice cream imaginable. So that was a real pleasure.”
Well, we’re certainly thankful for those burned chapatis now. In a recent interview, we got to know more about Ravinder and how she developed her culinary skills. Scroll down to read the rest of our chat with her!
Female Network (FN): What’s it like to work with Gordon Ramsay?
Ravinder Bhogal (RB): Well, I think he’s an incredibly passionate and motivational person. And actually, I found him completely charming. So I really enjoyed my experience working with him. He was nothing like, you know, you imagine he will be. I thought he’d be very brash and very rude and, you know, swearing all the time, and actually he was very charming.
FN: You seem so comfortable in front of the camera. How do you compose yourself before you go on air?
RB: Well, I think, you know, if you asked me to talk about anything else on camera, you know, whether it was politics or news or anything, I might–I’d be very nervous. But I suppose because food is something I’m so passionate about, I’m so in love with food that it comes, I guess, like just nature. So, you know, if all goes wrong I can always hide behind a whisk or something. But generally, you know, I’m just talking about something I love. So I feel fine.
FN: What’s the best advice you’ve heard lately?
RB: I’ve heard lately. Oh gosh, I think be the best version of yourself rather than a second-rate version of somebody else. I think that’s pretty good advice. You know, just be yourself; I think that’s–don’t be afraid to be yourself. And also just be yourself to the best of–you know, possible ability you can because, you know, you’re not serving anyone in–by dimming your light. So just be whoever you want to be. I think that that’s the main thing
FN: If you could have anyone for dinner, who would it be?
RB: Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. Dead or alive?
FN: Dead or alive.
RB: Okay. So I would have over Marilyn Monroe, because I love her movies and I love her singing voice and I just think she is an incredibly powerful woman. The author, Jean Rhys; I was obsessed with her books. I read all of her books probably over about two weeks of my life. I just read them and read them. And then I was really thoroughly disappointed that she was dead and could write no more because I just love her writing.
Let’s see. Probably Gordon; I think I owe him, you know, so I’d love to have him over. My goodness, who else? Someone who’s very handsome like George Clooney; eye candy is always good at the dinner table. Yeah, I think pretty much, you know–
FN: What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?
RB: I think initially when, you know, having been a fashion journalist or a beauty journalist, people are like, ‘Oh, can this girl really cook? I mean, is she really–is she just a front, is she just a face of, you know, this television thing or what?’ So I think I’ve proven people wrong and, you know, especially here in Britain, I’m now cooking in a lot in restaurants and I think sometimes when you’re a woman and you go into kitchen and you can command the kitchen, people find that surprising.
FN: Right. And earlier, we asked if you could have anyone over for dinner, who would it be; what about if you could choose anyone to cook for you, who would you choose?
RB: Oh, George Clooney. I’d have him–I’d eat anything he’d put in front of me.
(Photos courtesy of TLC)