In talks with CHEF ASHISH UGAL, Executive Sous Chef, The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi
Q: How long have you been cooking?
-I have been cooking for over 12 years now
Q: Where did you train to be a chef?
– I trained at The Leela Palace, Bangalore
Q: Why did you choose to become a chef?
– I have never been able to picture myself in any other field. Being a chef is my calling. When I’m in the kitchen, I feel that this is what I was born to do and it has been a very exciting journey so far! Each day is new and different.
Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?
– That is a very difficult question to answer. I feel that a style of cooking changes as per experience and knowledge and I still try various methods including the latest technologies in the food industry. My style of cooking changes as per the place and the availability of ingredients. There’s so much innovation and ideation that goes into a preparation and for me, cooking is a process that evolves every single day
Q: Which dish do you like cooking the most?
– I love making a kacche gosht ki biryani in the authentic Hyderabadi-style
Q: What is your favorite ingredient to cook? Why?
– Cooking risotto rice is to perfection is the most difficult thing to do for any good chef. Hence it is an interesting thing for me to cook.
Q: What is your most interesting/fun time in the kitchen every day?
– 3.30 to 4.30 pm in the afternoon is the most interesting time for me as I invest that time in understanding what I can incorporate new in the menus. I mostly spend this time researching new food trends and experimenting with recipes. The result of these afternoons is the unique promotions we run at The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. For example, we introduced a special dessert menu at Machan on the occasion of International Coffee Day. We served innovative desserts like Affogato centered vanilla popsicles and Kona coffee and Kahlua brownies. We’ve also recently introduced an Asian themed Friday brunch at Machan where the special menu comprises of dishes from across the subcontinent like Marinated prawns with Harissa dressing and Glass noodles with calamari and spice peanut dressing.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you enter your kitchen for the day?
– The first thing I do is sit down with a cup of cappuccino and go over the list of events, bookings, VIP movements and functions lined up at the Hotel for the day.
Q: Which other chef do you admire?
– Thomas Keller is a chef whom I really admire
Q: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a chef?
– My only advice is to cook with your heart and soul and the result will never turn out to be bad
Q: What does cooking mean to you?
– Cooking to me is equivalent to happiness
Q: What motivated you to become a chef?
– My delight and passion for exploring and trying various cuisines and travel across the world are what keeps me motivated
Q: Any anecdote you may want to share?
– If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs. And that’s exactly what I did.
Q: Can you tell us about any highpoint of your work?
– One of the highpoints of my career was when I became the youngest executive chef and got the opportunity to overlook all the Taj Safaris properties we operated then.
Profoundly creative, innovative and self-motivated, Chef Ashish comes from the small town Ranchi in India and has been among the most consistent chefs at The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. Chef Ashish carries an experience of over 11 years in the specialty kitchens across the world, he joined Taj in 2010 as a part of the Iconic palace hotel Falaknuma and since then he started growing in his career path. Chef Ashish has been a part of the pre-opening team of Falaknuma post which he was heading the kitchens of Taj Safaris and finally comes to The Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi which is one of the finest hotels of the Taj group. Chef Ashish has been associated with the restaurants in Taj which are known for their food across the globe and has been a part of the top best restaurants of the world and has also received a lot of awards and international reviews for the same. Chef Ashish has been a part of various Indian and western food promotions and festivals in India and Overseas as well. Ashish carries a lot of flavors and expertise in his style and is also known for his art on plate which he does extremely well when it comes to presenting the food.