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There Is No Sincerer Love Than The Love Of Food

13th November 2018
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Executive Chef Ashvini Kumar

Impressive interpersonal communication skills coupled with a rich and diverse background in the Food & Beverage Industry has made him extremely knowledgeable and versatile in terms of kitchen operatio

What inspired you to be a chef?

AK: I was always interested in the profession of cooking since my childhood. I wanted to get into the kitchen from the beginning. From day one, when I joined this industry, I always had a bent towards creating something, towards creativity. So I knew I was only good for this where I would create something on the plates. So that when I decided I would do something in the kitchen itself.

Briefly tell us about your culinary journey so far? What does Chef Ashvini aspire for?

AK: I have over 19 years of work experience in the hospitality industry - with a work background in Food & Beverage segment. Prior to joining Four Points by Sheraton Vashi, Navi Mumbai, my profession has taken me around the world and my past experiences include Tunga Group, Accor Group (Novotel, Ibis), Marriott, Cruise lines, and a standalone restaurant in Dubai.

My passion is to continue to learn; to teach; to lead; to create opportunities to develop Indian and International recipes with innovation. My hobbies include travelling, trying out new cuisines, and meeting new people from different cultures and learning from their culinary experiences.

Through your career, which is the one moment which you would cherish for your life?

AK: It’s always there, every day. When people appreciate and compliment your food.

You have had the opportunity to work with leading hotels, cruise liner and stand-alone restaurant. Tell us about your experience. Also, do you believe that Michelin ratings are apt for the Indian market?

AK: The difference in Hotel, Cruise, Restaurant chefs is the pace, schedule, kitchen size and equipment, travel and variety of food served, etc. Working in a hotel makes you an ambassador of food & beverage hotel. You always have the feeling of being a celebrated chef, sometimes you can have lots of fun and at another minute face a lot of challenges. On Cruise liners, I have had the opportunity to work with many foreign chefs of a different nationality, dealing in worldwide cuisine. It is a great experience to work as a chef and see the world. Working in a stand-alone restaurant offers an exciting pace with lots of creativity and variety in your responsibilities. The common things is that as chef, you are responsible for planning and directing the preparation of food in the kitchen.

Lots of Michelin Star restaurant around the world and Indian chefs are serving innovating molecular Indian cuisine with its originality. Lots of Indian Chefs are working on it. Soon we might have Michelin restaurant in India.

What is your take on the transformation of the cuisine culture of the country? Please elaborate.

AK: Food always involves Sweet, Sour, Salt, Bitter, Astringent and Pungent. Chefs have to maintain a balance of these tastes in the meal. I believe in cooking - recipes are a mere guideline. Everyone''''s cooking style is different. Cooking is an Art and Baking is Science.

As head of the kitchen, what are the challenges which you face? Any words of caution for aspirants who want to enter restaurant business?

AK: Attrition in the kitchen is the biggest challenge. It can affect the quality and productivity. So it calls for training on a regular basis. I always try to keep my chefs involved into doing something new.

For new aspirants, I always tell them - Respect For Kitchen Organization, Peers & Seniors, Ingredients, Space & Equipment.

Last but not the least respect for Customer as Customer is the King.

Which is the one most important aspect that a chef must keep in mind while trying to replicate international culinary trends?

AK: The authenticity of the dishes has to be maintained. It can only be done if I am using correct equipment, medium, ingredients and presentation.

Do you feel that Indian food professionals are creating culinary trends for the world to follow? Your thoughts with some example, please.

AK: Yes. Indian Master Chefs are now awarded Padamshri. Their restaurants have been awarded Michelin Stars. So many food channels talks and promote Indian foods, spices and ingredients. Many Indian chefs and professionals have taken Indian food to the next level. Now Indian food is not only about butter chicken or tandoori chicken. Guests in hotels want to try new, healthy, organic dishes. They want to know the story behind that dish.

Do you feel that the available manpower and skill sets of culinary professionals in the country are adequate? What is missing and how can that be tackled?

AK: Yes, thanks to the existing and upcoming catering colleges and hotel management schools. It’s all about attitude. Kitchen management style is simple - just be as long as you can with your people. I need to be on the floor, I need to be down there with my team. Eventually, it is combined effort and good teamwork which gives you the best output.

What did you like best and least about the education experience you had during your initial learning days at catering institute? What changes do you think are needed in the current system that prevails?

AK: I was an average student with a clear inclination towards kitchen operations. During the time of Hotel management and industrial training exposure, my focus was clear that I have to become a chef. The initial days of my career gave me an eye-opening experience. It is not easy and there is a lot of hard work involved. A chef should learn something every day. Read books, take reference from sites, discuss and implements. It drives me. Something new should come into my head every day which isn’t so easy.

What is the one place which you would travel to, just for the food and experience?

AK: I will like to go for a world cruise to experience food and beverages.

Chefs have been the driving force in the operations and success of a restaurant. They are now the face of the restaurant. Is there a fear of overexposure and resultant complacency when it comes to success in the form of awards and recognition?

AK: Yes. Chefs are the driving force in the operations and success of a restaurant, banquets, hotels or any catering business. Every chef knows their strengths and culinary art skills. Their special work makes them a successful chef and a celebrity. It is only this success that gets them the recognition in the form of awards and accolades. Believe me. It’s not easy. There is a lot of hard work involved.

What is your take on the plastic ban imposed on restaurants in Maharashtra? What initiatives is your hotel taking towards the environmental friendliness?

AK: We got the alternative. Yes, initially the ban had affected the operation, but the ban is for a good cause. It will be good for our environment and the future. Now we have shifted to eco-friendly and more natural bio-degradable product.

What would you like to convey to aspiring chefs and others who look up to you?

AK: Kitchen operation is a commercial entity. Food is not an easy business and requires a lot of advance planning and brain-storming. It requires great effort. As an aspiring chef. Try to be your own. Don’t try to copy.

"There is no Sincerer Love than the Love of Food."

Chefs Favourites:

  • Favourite food - Foie gras with truffle mash almond volute & figs relish.
  • Favourite restaurant - Gaggan
  • Most admired chef - Padamshri Master Chef Imitiaz Qureshi & Chef Georges Blanc
  • Most memorable guest - Denis Hennequin (Former Accor Hotel CEO)
  • Favourite holiday destination - Goa & Halifax Nova Scotia
  • Favourite Movie - Ratatouille, Julie & Julia
  • Favourite TV Show - Take Home Chef (On TLC by Curtis Stone) & The Restaurant (by Rocco.)
  • Favourite book- Lillicrap & Larousse Gastronomique

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Anonymous

29 May 2020

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