“I hope that through my recipe and other work I would like to do in the future, Canadians will be more and more open to trying Indian flavours and most importantly to even open up and re-think what Indian food can be. I am like a fusion of cultures, being a Canadian Punjabi – so I want my food to be a reflection of that.”
Presidents Choice was a brand that Ricky Matharu had always found amazing. Their way of bringing gourmet and multicultural foods to the everyday person is something he looked for in a product. So watching TV last year, Ricky followed the show Recipe to Riches religiously, waiting for his turn when the next season’s auditions would roll around. “It was about 2 AM and my wife saw a 15 sec quick commercial on Food Network for the open call auditions for Toronto; I was one of the first in line with my Butter Chicken Lasagna, ready to go!” he says. The Canadian Punjabi chef talks food and his life with Generation Next
Tell us a bit about your culinary background?
My culinary background comes from learning from my mom and experimenting in the kitchen. Growing up, my Mom would sneak in Indian flavors to mine and my sister’s foods because we hated eating regular roti and daal. So, she would create a grilled cheese sandwich but add mint chutney or creamy penne but with masala chicken. It helped my sister and I appreciate Indian flavors and my heritage through food. Much of my cooking style comes from putting my own twist on dishes that most people are comfortable with and know well. I picked up cooking to deal with a stressful day at work and so my food has a lot of passion and love in it. Formally, I would love to pursue a more professional side of culinary arts by enrolling in school.
What was your family’s reaction to your being a chef?
First, not a chef but a home-cook! I’m an everyday guy who just loves food and culinary life. My whole family are foodies and so for them, this was such a natural thing for me to have picked up and pursued. If I was to become a chef, I don’t think they would have much of an issue with that as they would get the best food every day!
What was most challenging for you in participation Recipe to Riches?
Choosing a recipe! I have six books filled with recipes that I have created. My blog Ricks Good Eats also has a ton of recipes so I couldn’t figure out which one would be the best contender!
What did you learn about cooking by participating in the show?
As a home cook, I’m used to cooking for my family and friends but to learn how to cook for a lot more than that was difficult. Also at home, we are used to making our food by using a pinch of this and a dash of that, but in the culinary world you need recipes that are precise and with absolutely no eyeballing!
Do you think Canada is ready for Indian food, especially when most of the time, it’s called “exotic” and many people aren’t really used to spicy food?
I think Canada is definitely ready for a taste of Indian food. Butter Chicken has become a phenomenon in mainstream food culture and I think for those Canadians that may be hesitant to try Indian flavors, my recipe is the perfect intro to our food. They get to try Indian flavors but through Lasagna, which everyone knows and is comfortable with. The same way my mom introduced me to Indian food and it how I fell in love with it, is how I want Canada to fall in love with those “exotic” flavors.
What are your thoughts on seeing so many different backgrounds of the cooks represented on the show?
I love it! I think it reflects Canada so well and is a real representation of our beautiful country. I think food is the perfect way for anyone to learn about a culture and get to know the everyday Canadian for more than what they look like on the outside. Food is the gateway to get to know who our neighbors are!
What’s your hope? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope that through my recipe and other work I would like to do in the future, Canadians will be more and more open to trying Indian flavours and most importantly to even open up and re-think what Indian food can be. I find myself like a fusion of cultures, being Canadian and Punjabi, so I want my food to be a reflection of that. In 10 years, I hope to have my own restaurant where I can continue experimenting with flavours and fusion cooking and possibly have my own frozen food products in stores!
For more on RickyMatharu, please go to www.RicksGoodEats.com and/or www/Facebook.com/RicksGoodEats