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India’s first Super Chef, television show host with a title in the Limca Book of Records, an experienced runner, and a man who breathes food- Saransh Goiia wears many hats besides his toque. Here’s a glimpse of how he embarked on his food journey (literally!) and wound up experimenting with Spanish olives in the Indian cuisine.

A brand ambassador of olives from Spain, Chef Saransh Goiia lives for food. While travelling 20,000 km across India by road within 100 days to explore India’s rich food heritage and learn from local families living in remote regions, he adapted their food culture on-the-go to invent something of his own that would still resonate with the local people.

He embarked on this journey as a host for India’s biggest food travelogue show, ‘Roti, Rasta aur India’ which secured him a place in the Limca Book of Records, 2014 for being the first chef to conquer this feat. “Every 1oo km, the food we eat changes - the flavour, colour, produce - basically everything. There is so much to explore and discover. It (Indian) is a cuisine you’ll never get tired of. So my love for Indian food grows by the day as it never ceases to amaze me,” shares the chef enthusiastically.

Chef Saransh has been a runner for several years, but a runner with a difference. “Running is like meditation for people who cannot meditate. I started running after a hiatus of about seven years and would post about it whenever I went on a sprint or ventured out to binge - largely exploring new breakfast places in the city - tagging it #RunToEat.

Realising that there were many who couldn't give up eating too, I started using the hashtag to encourage foodies to follow suit.” Through his #RunToEat initiative, people have begun to lead fitter lives, where they indulge in their favourite foods, while also burning the calories that are being consumed -all through running. Saransh recommends running as the easiest sport to adopt since it requires no specific skill set and believes it is a simple way to build a healthier lifestyle.

During his travels, Chef Saransh also discovered the Mediterranean cuisine, especially the versatile olives grown on Spanish soil - and fell in love. His keen sense of flavours told him that this juicy fruit had the potential to be a fitting ingredient for Indian cooking, to provide a twist to traditional dishes.

“I decided then to experiment with the product and started to figure out how to integrate it in Indian cuisine and how to make snacks and pickles with truly Indian flavors. As I was captivated by its juicy texture, I started to think about how to make pickles following the Indian pickle tradition, using olives as the core product to use.”

The Spanish olive culture fascinated the chef and it paved the way for his Indian innovations like Mulagapodi olives, Achari olives, Orange and Chaat Masala olives and a lot more. The inspiration comes from studying the variety of olives in Spain, a country with a tradition in producing green and black varieties, and in stuffing olives with up to 80 different ingredients such as red pepper, anchovies, almonds and tuna to name a few possibilities. It also comes from the wide range of spices and ingredients that Spanish olives are cured and pickled with in Spain.

Knowing that Spain is a market leader for this product, where growing olives is a deep-rooted traditional activity, Chef Saransh has full faith in the quality and flavours of this nutritious fruit. It is this trust that led him to become a supporter and brand ambassador for olives from Spain in India, as his interesting journey continues - to marry the Spanish Olive with Indian cooking.

This article originally appeared in The Hindustan Times