His grandfather thought a chef’s job wasn’t respectable. So, choosing an unconventional career wasn’t easy. “But, my father always said, ‘kaka chahe tailor ban jayi, par bani number one’ (You may become a tailor, if you please, but be the best at it),” says chef Surjan Singh Jolly.
In Chandigarh, at Pashtun Restaurant, Sector 35, to talk about his show, Junior MasterChef, Jolly brings with him two contestants in tow — Delhi-based Sania Raheja, 11, and Kolkata-based Pammi Singh, 11.
Chef Surjan Singh Jolly with contestants Sania Raheja (below) and Pammi Singh (L). HT Photo
His turban and Punjabi style of conversing, gives us a fair idea of his Punjab connection. On this, he proudly shares, “I’m a Chandigarh boy. An alumnus of Shivalik Public School, I was the elected the ‘head boy’ of the school. I did my graduation from DAV College and then gave various entrance examinations for National Defence Academy, engineering, hotel management, amongst some others. No prizes for guessing which one I did the best in!”
Terming his two-decade old career in the food industry a ‘sweet accident’, he says, “After studying hotel management from National Council of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in Jaipur, I started my career at Taj, New Delhi, in 1993.”
Taking cue from his father’s wisdom, Jolly believes in being the best in whatever he does. He shares, “Even on the show, the other two judges are undoubtedly celebrated, but I have my own qualities of being sporty, excited, motivating and a man of little words.”
Jolly is also hosting another show for Zee Khana Khazana called Ab Har Koi Chef.