Khazana Restaurant by Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Opens in Brampton
Khazana Restaurant, An East Indian Restaurant by Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Opens in Brampton
Khazana, the name sounds like heaven, and its exotic East Indian food resplendent with exotic flavours, mouth-watering aromas and textures, tastes even better.
East Indian celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, who has twice been a special guest on the Rachel Ray show, and the creator of the FoodFood network, flew into Brampton for the grand opening ceremony of his first Khazana restaurant in North America.
With a large media presence and well-wishing admirers, he proudly cut the ribbon signalling a monolithic advancement in his career, and addition to Canadian cuisine.
THE ARTIST’S PALLET
“Cooking to me is like what a canvas is to a painter – an art form arising from the creativity deep within, urging me to give every dish a new hue and perspective,” states Sanjeev Kapoor in a press release to the media.
Many hopefuls in the audience expressed the importance of bringing Indian culture to Canada in a significant way, and if anyone could be successful at it – Sanjeev Kapoor is the chef/entrepreneur with the chops to do it. With 40 restaurants in India, approximately 200 published cookbooks, his Food/Food network and other merchandising, he is a household name in his home country. Over the years, his popularity continues to spill over into other nations. To describe Mr. Kapoor, or “Sanjeev” as ambitious is an understatement.
Sanjeev started hosting a modest cooking show titled Khana Khazana in 1992, which was the first of its kind in East India. His flare for cooking and warm personality caught on with audiences. It televised for 17 years, garnering him many awards. He created his own company and started branching out with more restaurants, continually widening his territory and broadening his horizons. His background in hotel management was a definite asset, as is his love for cooking and being inventive. His website lists about 13,000 recipes, which also lauded him many accolades. He has prepared meals for many dignitaries including the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.
Sanjeev envisions a world where Indian food is the number one cuisine. Now he has partnered with SK Restaurants, which is a global franchise with ten different brands in nine countries.
Chief Executive Officer of Khazana, Rajeev Matta, said the Khazana chain will be expanding with about 40 more restaurants in the next few years with 30 in Saudi Arabia and 11 more in other United Arab Emirate countries.
Matta describes the airport and Queen Street location in Brampton as a “stand alone” because it has ample parking and is a popular area. “I wish I could find a place like this in India.”
From a business and marketing standpoint, he describes their brand as “creative,” and doesn’t consider any other chains or restaurants as their competitors.
Khazana Restaurant combines fine dining in an elegant setting with a unique blend of both staple and new dishes and delicacies from the master chef’s kitchen. Some of the new innovations are: Paneer Tikka Caprese, Tandoori Wasabi Salmon Tikkas, Smoked Chicken with Lettuce and Punjabi Dressing, Seabass Chettinad and Makhan Elaichi Mousse.
Supporting local growers is just one of his many causes. While he was sharpening his knives with rhythm for his cooking demonstration opening the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mr. Kapoor noted that he believed in “clean cooking” because in Africa and India and many other under-developed countries and regions, millions of people have been killed by kitchen fires. As a result, Sanjeev is an ambassador for the United Nations and its Clean Cookstoves Campaign. He also has a business model called Wonderchef that empowers women. After all, his appreciation for cooking came from his mother, and he still loves when his wife, Alyona cooks for him. He also supports the non-government organization, Forum for Autism in India.
The outside hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle is quickly forgotten once you step into Khazana with its calming spa-like waterfall, spacious bar area with top-shelf liquors and large windows. It seats 250 people, but there is also a private area for separate functions, making the atmosphere feel intimate, not vacant or vacuous. The décor is tasteful like the food.
Some of the dishes like a spiced tomato soup can be prepared at the table by the patrons themselves, which Matta said is a part of their “progressive,” line of foods. Many Indian dishes have “a story,” he said.
While all Khazana restaurants promise quality food, Sanjeev said his recipes evolve all the time, depending on what spices are available and where the restaurants are located. He believes in supporting local growers and food producers.
All the new chefs will be taught to cook by his team so that all restaurants will meet uniform specifications. Checking the ripeness of the tomatoes and even the taste of the water in different regions is important, details, details, details…
Attendees of the Grand Opening were treated to several dishes, like lentil soup, samosas and panipuri, a kind of hors d’oeuvre served on a top of a shot glass filled with a spicy concoction, and can also be combined with different types of alcohol. Apparently, that is the “East Indian” equivalent, if there is one, to “junk food.” However, most East Indian foods are well-balanced meals with the right amount of protein and carbs, and are all “very healthy,” noted Alyona Kapoor, Sanjeev’s wife. Several varieties of meat delicacies in medium-hot, spicy, and flavour-filled sauces hit the spot. It is food for the senses and the soul.
Mrs. Kapoor jet sets to many locations and different countries in order to oversee their restaurants and visit friends all over the globe. Their two daughters attend university in England, where Sanjeev is also known for his many pickled and chutney dishes.
After thirty fruitful years, Sanjeev is still forging ahead and believes any hurdles are stepping stones for success. He believes the path he is on is his destiny, and he is still moving forward to new ventures and all the treasures and wonders that come with it. It is not surprising that Khazana means treasure of food in India, and it is a bountiful treasure to behold.
(photos by Gloria Katch)