Being a chef is not easy, going through rigorous training, working long & odd hours, staying away from family and friends & missing on a lot of fun in life but on other hand having the utmost satisfaction of cooking some thing great and feeding so many people.
I have met many chefs now, all highly skilled & talented in their respective work areas, all very polite & very well mannered but today I met a chef who, apart from having these qualities was very witty with a great sense of humour. Appy Bistro had to bring his profile to our viewers under our “Cheer the Chef” drive.
Meet Chef Rahul Shrivastava who hails from Ambala, is full of life & energy, who is jovial, witty and loves to connect with people. A true family man and a proud father of a 3-year-old son and who feels his wife is his best critique. Apart from cooking, this highly decorated chef loves to watch HBO movies and likes to spend his free time playing Squash, being a sport lover, he is currently trying to brush up his Golfing skills too.
Being such a great and highly skilled Chef he can whip up a delicious meal any time, but this foodie is extremely fond of Chinese food and loves to take a dig at momos or dim sums when ever he can.
Chef Rahul studied MBA in Hotel Management from Punjab Technical University & went through a study program in basic kitchen course from Culinary Institute of America. Rahul started his professional career from Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces and has a vast experience there after at various other prestigious hotels & groups like The Oberoi, The Taj Mahal New Delhi, The Claridges New Delhi, worked as Manager Research & Development with Yum! India Pvt. Ltd and currently he is working as the Chef Product Development with highly prestigious ITC Limited.
“Cooking is an art, but all art requires knowing something about the techniques and materials” – By Nathan Myhrvold
Apart from being a chef with culinary art skills on one hand, Rahul has an edge and is an expert with culinary science on other hand. A true team leader, Chef Rahul takes pride in his work and manages his responsibilities of looking into the Shelf life study of FG, seasoning flavour houses, seasoning in-house, FG lab products, FG new launches, zero-downtime of Stability chambers and documentation of the same, preparing new recipes and standardizing the same for new product trials, monitors quality process controls & prepares quality manuals. He is actively involved in introducing new product ideas by proposing new options and taking forward the shortlisted ones. To sum it up all, Chef Rahul is an absolute Ingenious Culinary expert.
“A Recipe has no soul, You as the cook must provide the soul” – By Thomas Keller
We did an interview with him and had a great time knowing him better and enjoying his witty answers, I wanted to keep it short but couldn’t help myself but to publish a lengthy interview, Check it out!
Q: Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you started cooking?
A: Oh yes, when I was in early school in the city of Chandigarh with my occasional rounds at Sukhna lake – wanted to be Black cat Commando as was fascinated by their uniform and weapons. Later in school wanted to be a IAS officer because of the Ambassador Car with the red light. But was surely not a high flyer with grades and had a nag of creativity. Cooking was restricted to instant noodles only.
Q: What is your food philosophy?
A: I have ventured in various kitchens of Nations Best Star hotels, Worlds Largest QSR and Biggest Indian FMCG giants from length and breadth of the country, travelled beyond boundaries of India. This question is always finds me again and again- Should I try new dish or something which I can latch on to from my repertoire of (ROM) memory taste buds.
Food is to be respected: Rule 1
Whenever in doubt: Refer Rule 1
Q: What is it that you really enjoy about a chef’s life?
A: To engage 5 senses – taste, smell, sight, sound and touch. Also Cooking is instant appraisal. (Promoted/ Demoted)
Q: What are your thoughts on the current food trends in India?
A: There are 2 trends types:
Type 1 – Foods prepared to perfection.
Type 2 – Experimenting new dishes.
This is right to say that there are these two zones of people who inhabit our planet and same is the philosophy of mine with food.
On the onset let me clarify one cannot be a 100 per cent Type 1 or Type 2 but actually a mix of both. Certainly there is a huge inclination to one side with most of them and not work as force of fulcrum.
There are a few factors one needs to consider in order to focus your glance over these two types, First one in times of today is Purchasing power( which have grown exponentially in last 10 years) making most of them to venture out restaurants other than Indian and Chinese alone.
Secondly, the factor contributing is Upbringing -which generally revolves around other few more factors like parental education levels, money and their culinary grooming as well. Lastly comes up the Social Media. Post the advent of Facebook and Twitter people have an inherent habit of initiating and showcasing themselves in discussions or talks about what is happening in their life. Sometimes this is done by the means of text of through pictures. Both ways, it mostly starts with where you have travelled? and, what have you eaten? This would mean that the chain of conversation is going to be about new experiences in 5 senses – taste, smell, sight, sound and touch.
Definitely for me, I would venture out for a new taste zones even if they are forbidden in my religion, forbidden by the national governments or even forbidden otherwise. I am not going to create a habit of eating that dish for ever.
Fortunately, there is a lot so vegetarianism in India and we can easily follow it without any drain in our pockets.
Still I do not recommend anything to anyone as I do this because of this reason only being creative and better at my job because I need to keep updating my self with newer trends and bring those to the tables of all those who look up to me with those wide open minds and palates to get into the untamed frontiers of the world of gastronomy.
Keeping it short I have met both side of these types and respect both for what they challenge me to do- Perfection and yet Newer frontiers.
Q: What are your top three ingredients to cook with?
A: Onions – garlic and tomatoes are my canvas to most of the dishes I create at home and Work place.
Q: What kinds of foods do you think are underrated?
A: Indian Street food is under rated: primarily because of Hygiene issues.
Q: Is there a particular chef from whom you draw inspiration?
A: My Wife, My Mother and My mother in law. They are best critiques I can have.
Q: What advice would you give to a young, ambitious chef who is just starting out in the industry?
A: Be ready to miss Diwali, Dusshera, New year and Christmas and believe that you are beyond the regular rat race world. Because you are – Entrepreneur in making.
Q: What does good food mean to you?
A: Good food is 3 T – Time, Temperature and Taste
Time: Served well in time.
Temperature: served as per suggested serving temperature
Taste: Seasoned and balanced.
Q: What is your first memory of cooking?
A: Making Atta Ki Chidya– sparrow from wheat dough and baking along with mother in hot kitchen over griddle and then eating it myself.
Q: Do you have any funny or embarrassing moments to share?
A: Many learning in kitchen – will reserve them for my Book – Blunders at Kitchen!
Q: Why do you like teaching cooking classes?
A: Every art needs to be handed over from generation to generation and cooking is a performing art. One needs to be present in the moment to understand – Astonishing skill set. I like to make people go bonkers over flavours and trends.
Q: What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to do in your job?
A: Ah! still not able to catch my breath. Kneading the dough recently for 50 kg flour – manually as Mechanical Mixer broke down.
Q: What goes into creating a dish?
A: Heart – Mind and Soul- are basic ingredients required to create any dish even before it reaches the pan / plate.
Q: Is there a culinary technique that you use in a different or unusual way?
A: It was supposed to be secret: I use Jalebi Kadhai as a Spanish Paella Pan, Its thick bottom and works fantastic to evenly distribute heat on the rice to make them cook beautifully.
Currently Rahul is working on a book to be launched in near future and we are so looking forward to it.
Take a look at some of Chef Rahul’s mouth watering creations:
Team Appy Bistro wishes Chef Rahul 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 all our viewers too to encourage him, so please do share your comments with us & if you wish to meet him, please do let us know. Lets all cheer for him.
Cheers Chef Rahul Shrivastava, keep up the great work!
Post by Parul Khanna
Picture courtesy: Appy Bistro / Chef Rahul Shrivastava
Categories: Cheer the Chefs