Chef Vaibhav Bajaj has illustrated a career of 16 years, having worked in various dimensions of F&B. With a Degree In Hotel Management from IHM LKO and the prestigious Taj Management Training Programme. He delivers a wealth of experience, having worked in kitchens like-Orient Express/Machan/Haveli/House of Ming/Jockey Club of Taj before moving to Taj Exotica Goa to work there for eight years. With a successful stint as Head Chef for Various pre-opening projects like-Nukkadwala, En-Pan Asian restaurant at Mehrauli, Cure. Fit -the initial cloud kitchen concept to open in India, and he has been instrumental in commissioning talented teams and laying SOP and strong kitchen processes to drive the business. He is currently working as a brand chef for Food Bus of India -a casual dining affair. 

What is your childhood memory of cooking?

I think I inclined cooking at a very early age. I used to keep standing in the kitchen watching my mom and grandmom work, asking them questions /observing their techniques and being intrigued by textures and flavours of foods-often helping them with peeling and stuff. Then, when I grew, older I started making my comfort foods-Maggi/eggs/tea/fries. 

What made you pursue cooking?

As I have stated earlier, I was intrigued by various ingredients being used in cooking and the aromas it used to create. Also, I was a foodie and would always love to try out new things and my love for watching cooking documentaries /cook shows took me closer to my passion. 

Share your journey to the Food Bus Of India

Well, the Journey has just begun -we have just launched the first outlet, and we are overwhelmed with the response from the patrons. There has been a lot of detailing/deep diving that has happened to create this kind of unique dining experience-never heard of before. We would upgrade the experience of customers with more offerings adding up to the menu. As part of the second phase, we would like to expand and make the presence felt. 

What is the comfort food that you love to cook again and again?

Being a Punjabi- Rajma Chawal with a generous serving of ghee on top with kachumber. A favourite recipe that l like to cook, again and again, is poulet fairyland- stuff chicken breast with ratatouille and cheese/broccoli puree/garlic spinach and country mash. 

The pandemic hugely affected the F&B industry. How did it affect you personally? 

The recent pandemic has been devastating - I lost some of my dear and close ones, I have seen so many of my ex-colleagues getting jobless/going into depression. My ex-company had to terminate all its operations pan India. People getting to work with substantial salary cuts. I hope things will get better soon.

The pandemic also led to many food trends. Did you try any and see any of them?

The pandemic led food trends that I believe shall continue for a while- 

  1. The emergence of dark/cloud kitchens- People have limited their dine-out experience, and there is a massive surge in online food delivery. The cloud kitchens have evolved in a cluster, with more and more home chefs taking it commercially. 
  2. Dependence on local produce/millets /seasonal availability than processed and imported foods. 
  3. Usage of some superfoods in a meal-People have realised the goodness of superfoods in their diet and have become cautious about what they are consuming 
  4. Veganism slowly making its way into society now. More people are taking the veg plant-based diet.

What is that one thing that you would like to tell aspiring chefs?

  1. There are no shortcuts in life. Your hard work in the formative years of your career will eventually decide your path. 
  2. Don’t forget your roots/basics of cooking -while taking the progressive approach. A great meal is made with fewer ingredients.-Remember a good food should touch the soul, not only the eyes.

What are your future plans?

My plans: Well, I don’t plan too far ahead. My current prerogative is to expand the brand successfully and make its presence felt in the city faster.