The celebrity chef is using his recent 1 million-follower milestone on Instagram for a food cause
Hitting the one million mark on social media is an occasion for euphoria and declarations of thanksgiving often rival red carpet acceptance speeches. But chef Ranveer Brar is making this million count by giving back to the community. He has tied up with NASVI (National Association of Street Vendors of India) to launch #BringThemBack, a fundraiser to prepare vendors to return to business. The programme will include digital training sessions on hygiene as well as safety kits that will enable them to return to work in a post COVID world.
NASVI has a vast network of street food vendors and works with hyperlocal organisations across India that enable webinars and training sessions. All those who complete the training will receive a certificate from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which will help build confidence among both vendors as well as their customers.
Apart from online modules, the fund will equip each vendor with a special protection kit that will include items like gloves, masks, sanitizers and headgear. Brar says the objective is long-term change and a shift in how we perceive street food and its associated hygiene standards in India. “We want to impact the community in a bigger way and empower them rather than offer them immediate solutions like free rations,” says Brar. For many, he says, charity goes against their gairat (honour) and enabling livelihoods is far more beneficial.
The chef will also create some videos of his own which will be included in the sessions conducted by NASVI. “My videos will be motivational in nature and in them I will talk about my journey as a chef and how street food has made me who I am today,” he says.
Ranveer Brar’s stint on the street
Growing up in Lucknow, Ranveer Brar was surrounded by street food and its romance and folklore are among the reasons he got into food in the first place. Every corner stall or cart had its own speciality dish. His career began at 17 with an apprenticeship under Munir Ustad, a popular kebab maker who had one cart and one sigree. For eight months, he pounded masalas and dried charcoal for the ustaad to prepare his kebabs on and till date, he considers the experience a masterclass in discipline.
Ever since, Brar has travelled across India trying a plethora of street foods. From Sharmaji ka samosa in Lucknow to Gurdas jalebi in Amritsar and Dileep phuchkawalla in Kolkata, the list is endless. “The joy and dedication with which they replicate the dishes over and over again and how generations perfect that repertoire of five dishes, is what makes street food fascinating for me,” he says.
You can contribute to bringing back the street food vendors of India here.