Food

Funny and full of flavour

“Say that I’m a funny guy. Okay?” says celebrity chef Sanjay Thumma. For anyone who’s seen his toddy chicken video, there’s no need for affirmation: he’s got a whacky sense of humour that makes him a YouTube phenomenon. In fact, he’s the most-watched chef on the Internet, with over 400 million viewers.

“A lot of my friends are excellent cooks. Sometimes, I think they are better than me. But when they got on YouTube and television, people did not accept them. So it’s not just about cooking; it has something to do with the personality as well,” says the 46-year-old chef. So, what is it exactly that works for him? He shrugs. “Sometimes, people tell me they just want to watch me eat. And if you watch my videos, you’ll know the food never goes on to the plate. It goes straight from the pan to the mouth. That’s because I love feasting on any food I make, when it is hot and fresh,” grins Sanjay.

Sanjay got on YouTube in 2007, before it was cool to be on the inter webs. He had thrown caution to the wind and sold his chain of Indian restaurants in Chicago, which he set up and nurtured for a decade. “I just realised I was managing people more than cooking food. So, one night, I decided to sell, and the next day, I did.”

His first couple of videos were in response to requests from friends who called for recipes, and called again asking for clarifications. “I thought there must be some way to keep them from calling me back again,” he grins. Thus, came the VahRehVah videos. Before he knew it, he was a hit, and people from around the world wrote in with requests for more such video recipes. Soon, he came to be known as Vah Chef. Two hundred such videos later, he decided it was time he moved back home to Hyderabad. Today, another 1,000 videos later, many of which have close to five million views, he is a YouTube sensation. “There’s no script. I enjoy myself and laugh all the time; that must be contagious. I receive mails saying people watch my videos as a stress buster.”

Is his approach changing now, as flash cooking videos are taking the Internet by storm? “If you show a recipe in 30 seconds, viewerships will be more, but the same video can be made elaborately to make sure people don’t make mistakes while preparing the dish.” However, he adds that media is king, and as different visual formats become popular, he is trying his hand at all of them. “When I started, everything was simple definition. Then, it became high definition, and now, we are getting super-high definition. Maybe the future will be all about 3D videos,” laughs chef Sanjay.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 9:29:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/celebrity-chef-sanjay-thumma-funny-and-full-of-flavour/article8532408.ece

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