International Chef’s Day: Top Chefs Reveal One Tip That Changed Their Life

It was somewhere in 2014, I ordered mutton meatballs at a restaurant, and I remember it being excessively spicy, chewy and unappetising. I complained about the same to my friend who just called it ‘unfortunate’ and decided to help me ‘finish it off’. At this point, the manager comes in asking what was the matter, we stayed quiet. My friend and I were textbook people pleasers at the time, so there was no way we would tell him that we hated the dish. And then, as if on cue, we also saw the chef stepping out of the kitchen, and we were faced with the actual test. Should we swallow the terrible meatballs or tell them the truth. The chef understood the discomfort and asked very gently if he could make us something else. “ Yes, please, if you can...if it is not so much of a trouble” I finally gathered the courage to speak. The chef smiled and asked what did we want, and we placed a fresh order of chilly chicken, post which he also asked us what we did not like about the meatballs, while requesting us to be honest. The incident not only removed my fear of ‘chefs’ and made me realise how a good chef always looks for constructive feedback and wants to learn and reinvent their art. 

On the occasion of International Chef’s Day, I spoke to chefs running the kitchen in some of the top F&B properties of India about the one tip that changed their life. 

'Your Heart Should Be At The Right Place'

Chef Shubham Thakur, Chef de Cuisine- Megu, The Leela Palace New Delhi, told us about the time when he was told about the importance of an ‘original thought’ by his superior in the kitchen.

"The making of a dish starts with a thought and is brought to life with heart and soul. It's an amalgamation of senses and a Chef must create a symphony of not just bringing out the best flavours but texture and presentation too which makes it hit all the notes right,” chef Shubham says. 

Focus On The Big Picture And Also Look For Ways To Simplify Your Workload 

Chef Sumit Sethi of Crowne Plaza Today, Okhla New Delhi, told us about how he overcame his despise for chopping onions. “My father was a passionate cook and he loved showcasing my culinary skills to everyone in my family. Once, he invited my entire family for a pre-Diwali dinner at our house. I was given the task of chopping onions and how I loathed it. My father laughed at me first and then explained me the right way to do it. Firstly, we must chop them near a vent or a running fan. It is better to refrigerate the onions for 20 minutes before chopping. It is advisable to cut off the root before cutting the onions and also ensure that the exposed part faces the chopping board. A sharper knife surely is a better companion during your tryst with Indian onions. These small yet valuable tips from my foodie family definitely made a huge difference in my years as a chef.”  

Never Be Scared Of Failure 

Food is an ever-evolving discipline. By experimenting with food, giving it your edge, you could be accused of tarnishing the recipes, but if you end up making something genius, that may go down in history.

Chef Arun Sundararaj, Director Culinary Operations, Taj Mahal, New Delhi, tells us, “The one thing that has remained consistent throughout my career has been “experimentation”. My passion and curiosity towards creating new culinary elements. In addition, I have always been passionate about ingredients, their quality, seasonality, innovative uses, health aspects and creativity in curating flavours.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Chef’s Day.