The 68th Republic Day is a tad more special for the food and beverage industry with ace chef Sanjeev Kapoor being honoured with the Padma Shri award. Surprised as we are, there isn’t a person better and more talented than Kapoor who deserved this accolade (except for maybe Jiggs Kalra, but we’ll save that debate for another day).

The chef and restaurateur has been a part of our lives and TV scheduled for over half a century. And with new ventures like MasterChef India; his own food channel, Food Food in action; and his restaurant Yellow Chilli stepping foot in the US, probably the next generation too will grow up watching him and learn to love food like we did in the 90s.

Kapoor, who will be presented with the honour for his remarkable contribution to the culinary section, told IANS:

“I am very happy that I am getting it now. When you do something or start something, you want to get a reward or recognition as early as possible. But the way your mind thinks, that may not be always right. You don’t know everything and the way the world works. When you get it, it’s the right time and the best time. I have never regretted that I have never got it before. Now I’ve got it so, I will enjoy it.”

Further expressing his joy about receiving such an honour, Kapoor added that he wanted to whip up a special meal for all the recipients of the awards, which will be conferred on the winners later this year at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. “I want to offer my specialties to all the people who are getting this recognition. I want to prepare a special meal for them. I will seriously propose that,” he said.

Sanjeev Kapoor is only the third Indian chef to ever receive this award, after stellar culinary experts Imtiaz Qureshi of Dum Pukht (ITC Hotels) and Tarla Dalal. The Padma Shri – or Padmashree – is the fourth highest civilian honour in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan awarded by the Government of India on every Republic Day.