A good cook is also an adventurous one. And for Vancouver-based chef Tushar Tondvalkar, that adage has led him to a one-in-a-lifetime experience on a unique new Hulu cooking competition.
Each episode of Chefs vs Wild sees two top chefs from across North America being helicoptered to a remote area in the BC wilderness.
Upon arriving in the unknown environment, the pairs are tasked with foraging enough wild ingredients to create a fine dining meal in just 48 to 96 hours. But for Tondvalkar, the time limit wasn’t the only challenge he faced.
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“In the first part of filming, I was really put to the challenge because it was storming for three days,” Tondvalkar told Daily Hive. “It was hard to forage for the necessary resources and try to get a fire going while also trying to avoid hyperthermia!”
“Chefs vs Wild to me is like a Survivor version of a reality cooking show. My experience on the show was amazing. I can truly say that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Tondvalkar was paired with a survival and outdoor expert during his time on Chefs vs Wild, though his own experience with foraging helped him during the shoot.
Tushar Tondvalkar on Chefs vs Wild/Hulu
“This series is about challenging oneself, and being a lover of the outdoors and foraging, I was super excited to test myself,” explained Tondvalkar. “It’s all about facing all of the environmental stressors, testing your knowledge of food and food science, and pushing yourself physically and mentally to create the best dish you can through all of these obstacles.
“Being a fan of David Chang, the noodle king of Momofuku, and knowing that he was producing this show was a great experience as well.”
The founder of The Indian Pantry Catering and co-owner of Urban Tadka grew up in India and learned everything he could about flavour by cooking over the fire with his mother and grandmother.
“I want to showcase regional Indian cuisine,” shared Tondvalkar. “I am a chef who wants to provide access to Indian culture and the heritage of my childhood through innovative cuisine.
“Growing up in Mumbai and Malvan, I spent a lot of time with my mother and grandmother. Through this time, I saw how food connected people and fostered a sense of community. I saw food sparked joy in people’s lives. I have always wanted to cook and nothing else.”
It’s a busy time for the entrepreneur and budding restauranteur. The Indian Pantry is currently in the market for its first restaurant space that will focus on a tasting menu of regional Indian cuisine.
The Indian Pantry and Urban Tadka will also be expanding its retail program Canada-wide in the next six months while continuing to offer private dining and catering services.
Tondvalkar will also be joining the rest of the Chefs vs Wild fans in watching his episode when it premieres on Hulu on Monday, October 3. The fourth episode in the series also features Chef Laura Comer from Kansas City, MO.
“One of my biggest hope for viewers to get out of watching my episode is respect for Mother Nature and the nutritious ingredients the wild can provide us,” said Tondvalkar. “Even though I am used to foraging, it has really given me true insight and a different level of respect for ingredients.
“Aside from my episode, I would encourage people to watch the entire series. It is so interesting and inspiring to see how each chef handles and executes the show’s challenges.”
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