Know Your Chef
What inspired you to become a chef? Tell us your story!
My grandmother was the quintessential grandma as far as cooking is concerned. She made an amazing variety of dishes in the most efficient ways, using simple ingredients and recipes. Her food has left me with a taste that lingers on my mind to this day. The kitchen was pretty much my grandma’s domain and her food was something that initially ignited the passion for cooking in me. Growing up, it was either becoming a chef or flying that interested me professionally. After attempting to save up and get into a flight school of my choice, I listened to my gut feeling and decided to pursue cooking as a career. I completed my formal training at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai. After that, it has been a series of cooking experiences at The Leela Group of Hotels, The Marriott Group and Reliance Retail. I have also worked as an on-board chef aboard one of the most luxurious and historic cruise ships - Queen Elizabeth 2. All that training and knowledge about special cooking methods play a vital role in my career. Before joining Holachef, I headed the kitchen at the Mumbai Gymkhana, which is a legendary club in the city. I was also part of a teaching program for the underprivileged youth in the city's western suburbs and I still try and contribute to this program whenever I can. I come with a vast experience of setting up restaurants and consider myself to be hands-on in this respect.
What entertains you?
One activity that I have come to enjoy a lot is taking a stroll in local markets, in any part of the world I travel to. Apart from imbibing the unique vibe which every marketplace has, I have come to realise that this activity helps me decide what I might serve on that particular day. For example, there is a different assortment of fish during certain times of the day in the market and visiting the market during this time gives me access to buy exotic fishes. I’m also more aware about what is available and get the best possible rates this way.
Do you like to travel? What are your favorite travel destinations?
During my years as a chef on a luxury cruise line, I have travelled to many places across the world. I have always loved exploring unknown cities and visiting historic destinations in all countries.
Do you like reading?
Lately, I have no reading preferences and read whatever interests me. This includes books on cooking, biographies of famous leaders and of important personalities.
Have you tried food from Holachef? How was your experience?
I have enjoyed eating all of Chef Madhusudan's Indian dishes and Chef Sandeep's salads.
Which cuisines/dishes do you love to cook?
I started out cooking Maharashtrian food and enjoy preparing it to this day. Italian cuisine comes in at a close second on my list of favourite cuisines followed by some French dishes. Many of the sauces and dishes served across Europe have their roots in Italian and French cuisine.
A cooking tip that you always follow.
Always roast old spices so that the oil and their flavours are released.
What's your favorite kitchen tool?
A whisk is something that I love using and is a multi-purpose device for me.
If you weren't a chef, or in the food business, what would you be?
Farming is something that interests me. I have a small nursery of plants and a few vegetables at my place.
What's the largest number of people you've ever cooked for?
I have cooked for a total of 10,000 people. 6 different cuisines were served and everything was handled by me and a team of 25 people.
An advice to someone who inspires to be a professional chef?
No matter what profession you choose, always remember to do what you love. Money and recognition will surely follow.
What is that one ingredient you cannot cook without?
I would have to say black peppermint because I love the way it adds flavour to the dishes I prepare.
When it comes to food and cooking, what is your greatest achievement to date?
I have somehow managed to keep in touch with most of my students and people who I have worked with. I feel I have met the right people at the right time during my culinary journey and as a result, have developed a vast network of friends or as I like to call it, my 'cooking community'.
Someone famous you would like to cook for?
Mother Teresa has lived an exceptional life devoted to the poor and I would have liked to cook my best dishes for her. She is definitely an example to follow.
What would one expect to find in your refrigerator?
My refrigerator is filled with various homemade chutneys, pickles and relishes. Also, I am a chocoholic and you will find it stored in my fridge.
What quality should a person definitely possess to become a professional chef?
That is quite simple - passion. Without it, your journey as a chef will be something filled with regrets and frustrations.