Slurrp Exclusive: Chef Akshay On Showcasing His Contemporary Gastronomy Skills
Image Credit: Slurrp Exclusive Interview With Chef Akshay

Chef Akshay Puljal, well-versed in Indian, Italian, Asian, East African and Middle Eastern cuisines, believes in always satisfying the client’s palate with his creative ways to extract the flavours from the high-quality ingredients. Like most chefs globally, Executive Chef Akshay’s journey started with helping out his mother in the kitchen at eight. He commenced his career as an engineer but couldn’t stay away from his true calling and eventually switched to the culinary world. He trained at Cesar Ritz College in Switzerland, where the works of Auguste Escoffier inspired him. As a part of his training, he worked on and sharpened his skills in cooking and managing the kitchen professionally under Chef Cortland Forrest Warren and Chef Willy. Akshay started his very first venture, Pepperoncino, an Italian restaurant, in Hyderabad, India, which quickly evolved the talk of the townlet because of its delectable dishes.

Evolution of curry

During the same time, he travelled across Europe, Africa, the USA, the Middle East and South-East Asia to explore the history of curry, which has managed to integrate itself into various cuisines around the globe. The study of the evolution of curry, which was born in India and traversed the world-conquering global culinary palates, led him to establish "Quicurry," a quick-service restaurant in Bangalore with a contemporary take on international curries available on a single menu. He also ran "The Thali Company" and the "Kulcha Station", which were cloud kitchens that served B2B and B2C clients in Bangalore. Furthermore, he also runs "At the Farm," an organic food concept on his farm in Kidwali Village in Haryana that grows pesticide-free fruits and vegetables and is based on going back to the old notion of cooking sustainably with naturally available selections.

Akshay brings a wealth of experience and talent to the kitchen. His passion for contemporary gastronomy, coupled with his training in Switzerland, has honed his culinary techniques, paving the way for a sophisticated and innovative dining experience.

What is your childhood memory of cooking?

My earliest and fondest memory of cooking is helping my mother in the kitchen. Since I was eight years old, my brother and I would cook together. These first experiences in the kitchen paved the way to my eventual career. 

What made you pursue cooking?  

My love for food. I started as an engineer and trained in Australia, but I soon realised my calling was in the culinary world. It gives me tremendous pleasure when I see someone smile after devouring a meal cooked by my own hands. I believe in sharing happiness, and seeing how happy a person can become after enjoying a hearty meal, made me want to pursue cooking as a profession rather than keep it a hobby. 

Tell us about the journey to Quikish, the roadblocks, and the success

I have always wanted to make cooking convenient and enjoyable rather than feeling like a menial chore. Post the first lockdown due to the pandemic, and I came up with an idea to make this possible, especially for working women and novice chefs. At first, it was a challenge to standardise Indian food while simultaneously making it a single pouch ready-to-cook product. I faced multiple hurdles, one of the procuring unadulterated ingredients, but then I found a way to put in processes to make them in-house. To see Quikish being appreciated by customers across the length and breadth of India is what I feel is a success at this point.

What is your favourite comfort food? 

Hands down, Aglio e Olio. It looks like an effortless dish but balancing the flavours is tricky to taste perfect.

Name the all-time favourite recipe that you love to cook for your guests?

Gnocchi Pesto is my all-time favourite recipe. The reason behind this is that I adore how the delicate texture of gnocchi is in perfect sync with the earthy flavours of the pesto. 

The pandemic affected the F&B industry in a big way. How did it affect you personally?

Quikish is a worthwhile venture for the people stuck at home during the pandemic. This helped us increase, expanding the business into seven cities briefly.  

The pandemic led to numerous food fads. Did you see any of them becoming prominent shortly?

Yes, Quikish! During the pandemic, one of the significant trends was that people, especially the younger generation, started cooking more at home, which led to a rise in the need for convenience food companies.  Quickish was thus conceptualised and launched to provide for the fast-growing convenience food space to provide clean food to its patrons by using the highest quality of ingredients in its products.  

One thing that you would like to tell aspiring chefs?

Be patient and work hard. No one has had it easy, and no one said you will. So learn from your failures, bolder with each new step, and follow success. 

Any future plans?

The plan is to make Quikish an international convenience food brand by expanding our range of products and, with that, the clientele too.