Sometimes when I visit a restaurant and I see some great food on my plate or I watch a cooking program on the television, being a chef looks highly glamorous & appealing. A good chef is like a magician who can spin out a delicious dish from simplest of the ingredients.
I truly believe that it is one of the most satisfying feeling for any one, especially for a chef to cook for others and see them happily enjoying every bite of the dish they created. Food trends have changed massively and people are much more demanding & they like to have the best of flavours, taste & the presentation which makes the chef jobs much more challenging now. Still we come across a lot of them who come out as winners.
“Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.” – By Francois Minot
I have seen many great chefs & now I get to meet them, talk to them and and I always feel that I have so much to learn from each one of them. They all are great in their own ways; don’t you think you would like to know them too? Well that is what Appy Bistro likes to do, we want to present & bring forward all great chef profiles to our viewers under our “Cheer the Chef” drive.
“I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I’m always excited about learning new things about food” By Paul Prudhomme
I want to present another chef, who is one of the absolute best in the culinary world. Meet Chef Balaji Hariharan. When I saw his work and spoke to him at length the only thing I could really think of at that moment was – Wow! A true Gastronomic Genius.
He spent his childhood & did his initial studies in Kolkata & Darjeeling. His parents had to move to Chennai for the kid’s higher education. His initial choice was to become an architect like his mom. He was highly creative too. This sensitive & over generous guy was in awe with post British raj food and liked street food on one side & exotic food on other equally but little did he know then, that one day he will enjoy cooking food himself.
His fate turned him from architecture to cooking and he landed up doing Hotel Management from Bangalore University, India. Post graduation he got lucky to get into OCLD (Oberoi group) for a food production & kitchen management program, there after he had a excellent carrier graph & had the opportunity to work with The Oberoi Group, The Carnival Cruise Lines, Sheraton Bangalore (Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.), InterContinental Hotels Group. He is also trained and certified by Oberoi group as ‘Certified Departmental Trainer’ aimed at training and grooming new joiners, Trainees, budding chefs, as well as internal training for existing team members.
He had been a part of the pre-opening team of Sheraton at Brigade Gateway, Bangalore, India and was responsible for the banqueting operations. He has to his credit being fully responsible as Chef de Cuisine for fine dining Indian restaurant “Veda” at InterContinental Mauritius. Another of his earlier assignment also included to be a chef culinary centre with Griffith Laboratories and there he engaged with potential customers & their customer base for Custom Culinary products, applications and menu optimisation which further lead to culinary consultancy in developing QSR/ Restaurant/ Fine Dining menus, recipe standardisation and training of the kitchen team.
Currently residing at Bangalore (India), married & father of two beautiful girls, he is enjoying & Heading Culinary Operations, Food Research & Product Development at ACME Chef Pro.
Being from fashion world too, I had to ask him this question first – which fashion brands are his favourite? Well Balaji likes Arrow for formals, FabIndia for ethnic apart from Levi’s, Benetton, Adidas & Puma.
We enjoyed talking to him & asked some questions too, check out answers (in Blue) to know him better:
Q 1: Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you started cooking? Be an architect like my Mom!
Q 2: What is your food philosophy? Progressive and Modern to adapt from classical cuisines.
Q 3: What is it that you really enjoy about a chef’s life? The sense of satisfaction for having cooked for ungrateful bellies and prove over-smart palettes wrong.
Q 4: What are your thoughts on the current food trends in India? Evolving to becoming more modern but still adapting from authentic & original roots.
Q 5: What are your top three ingredients to cook with? Lamb, Salmon & Mushrooms.
Q 6: What kinds of foods do you think are underrated? Southern Regional Indian Cuisines.
Q 7: Is there a particular chef from whom you draw inspiration? Chef Parvinder Singh Bali & Chef Baranidharan Pacha
Q 8: What advice would you give to a young, ambitious chef who is just starting out in the industry? Please work hard and do not look to grow too fast or for just money.
Q 9: What does good food mean to you? Food that nourishes your soul.
Q 10: What is your first memory of cooking? Learning to make omelets from my Dad.
Q 11: Do you have any funny or embarrassing moments to share? Asking a colleague if he had any Beurre Blanc lying around [what I meant to ask was if they had made any just recently].
Q 12: Why do you like teaching cooking classes? It is good to impart, teach and help learn fellow epicurians.
Well by now you must have noticed that we have so many talented Chefs like Balaji around us and often we don’t really know them. When I meet or get to know a chef, I feel very excited, happy & proud of them too. Let’s take a look at some of Chef Balaji’s creations. Truly mouth watering.
Team Appy Bistro Wishes Chef Balaji all the very best for his long journey & his great future and extends all the support we can give to him, in bringing his good work to the world through our website.
We request our entire viewer’s too to encourage him, so please do share your comments with us & if you wish to meet him, please do let us know. Let’s all cheer for him.
Cheers Chef Balaji Hariharan, keep up the great work!
Picture Courtesy: Appy Bistro/Chef Balaji Hariharan
Post by: Parul Khanna
Categories: Cheer the Chefs