By Puja Gupta
New Delhi– What started as the craze for a handphone photo of “Smoked caramelized apple with buttermilk yolk and a rose macaroon” around 357 weeks ago, has gathered critical mass in 2020 for Chef Ranveer Brar, who is loved for his remarkable quip on television and historic conversations on life, travel, and cuisine on the gram.
The Food Sufi recently won the ‘capital M’ next to his follower count on Instagram. Ask him how he wishes to celebrate this milestone and he replies, “By #MakingMillionCount.” Such a lucrative influence as a Indian household-name should have its perks, which Brar feels should and can be best used for the welfare of our society.
Hence, the launch of his digital mission #MakingMillionCount, wherein he aims to partner with different organisations to mirror the milestone number on to beneficiaries via various supporting programmes.
The first in his arsenal of initiatives is to put the backbone of our cuisine back on their feet – by rebuilding some serious street cred for India’s street vendors.
“My relationship with food has always taught me to give back in some way, shape, or form. The onset of Covid’s socio-economic repercussions has caused a setback to millions of people across many walks of life. While we are all coping with it in our own ways, the worst-hit are those dependent on daily earnings… the lockdown has thus forced many a street food vendor to shut shop and perhaps return home,” opines Ranveer.
“While the bigger players are testing waters around making a comeback, the smaller vendors are still coming to terms with basic survival. However, their spirit of entrepreneurship is very much alive, as purported by the National Association of Street Vendors of India, aka NASVI, with whom I am crafting an association for a countrywide digital training movement targeted at local and hyperlocal street food vendors. We are committed to preparing them for a post-Covid world, where we can help reinstate them back into business as soon as possible.”
Towards this endeavour, Ranveer will use his global social media standing to create awareness and raise funds for these pan-India training modules, some of which he will also conduct personally via Zoom. The idea is to motivate more vendors to come forward for the training, on completion of which they are given a chance for a fair business footing via an FSSAI certificate + a starter kit consisting of an apron, pair of gloves, sanitizer, and mask. Via #MakingMillionCount, Brar also wants to encourage patrons to share self-curated, sanitization kits with their favourite roadside vendors to encourage and motivate them back to business.
“NASVI is a livelihood advocacy organisation that works with more than 10,000,00 street vendors through street vendor organisations and leaders. It is very heartening to join hands with celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar to strengthen our effort of empowering street food vendors with the skill to cope during and post-Covid pandemic. His association will be a great motivation for street food vendors. Hygiene kits, which are the need of the hour, will be a great incentive for the food vendors to come forward for training. Wish and hope this beautiful association with Chef Brar brings a phenomenal success in the life of food vendors,” mentions Arbind Singh, National Coordinator, NASVI.
Ranveer undertook a series of lives titled #BeHomewithRB where he served as a covert detective bringing India’s hidden rural talent to the forefront. He also hosted many live-cooking sessions with celebrities such as Shankar Mahadevan and Nakul Mehta, finally amalgamating the series into a 21-day curated, lockdown cook-book that aided people with preparations of simple recipes with limited ingredients. #SochPostiveKarona, where Ranveer helped spread cheer via positive news bulletins on his Instagram daily, followed by an NGO showcase that one could contribute to and make a difference in these trying times.
“Street food is the backbone of any cuisine and culture. Being an avid traveler, I always encourage people to explore any destination through its street food, for that is where the tastiest stories of that region’s ethnicity are often hidden. Those hawkers are not mere food vendors, but a significant piece of our culture that we cannot afford to lose to history. They are our memory makers, our gossip mongers, and more than anything, stand testament to India’s resilient nature, and we must support them to #BringThemBack,” he says. (IANS)