Surjan Singh Jolly was eight and living it up, being mischievous, restless and wild. “Did I even hold a knife at that age? No. I had no clue what to do with my life till my final year of hotel management in 1990,” says the chef, who is currently relishing his stint on Star Plus’ Masterchef Junior – Swaad Ke Ustaad.
This far, it’s been an appetising journey for Jolly. Last year as head chef at JW Marriott Bangalore, he designed the menu for Paris Hilton on her visit to India, and made an appearance on Masterchef India. This year, the chef, who is a member craftsman of the Guild of Chefs, UK, finds himself in the company of children. “Masterchef Junior is like being back in school, back to basics, and one has to keep up with their extraordinary energy levels while extracting the best out of the children,” he says. What makes him popular with the contestants is that he doesn’t treat them like “babies”. Born in Amritsar, and schooled in Chandigarh, Jolly says his mother inspired him to cook, and his father would always encourage him to get up and keep moving no matter what. “I tell the children the same thing — it doesn’t matter if you fall or fail,” he says.
He enjoys Masterchef India and Masterchef Junior more than the international ones. “Like Bollywood, Indian food is known for its colour, emotion, fun, variety, a million moods and a story behind every dish. Real culinary delight and creativity lie in simplicity, in basic flavours. Too much fusion leads to confusion,” says the chef.