In talks with CHEF HARPREET SAHAI, Executive Sous Chef, Hyatt Regency, Mumbai
Q: What does cooking mean to you?
– I am one of the fortunate few who have made their passion a profession. Processes and techniques of cooking are constantly evolving and it is this inherent trait about the profession that eggs me on every day. You can never truly master cooking if you believe you know everything about it. It is the process of discovery and the joy one derives from it that makes whole experience exhilarating. I’m a curious person by nature and the creativity needed for cooking, feeds my mind.
Q: What motivated you to become a chef?
– Right from my days as a trainee, I loved spending time in the kitchen as none of the other areas held my interest. I was intrigued by the creativity & technique involved in cooking a variety of cuisines. I thrive on challenges and cooking gives me that opportunity every day. Every time I meet a guest who appreciates dishes from the menu or needs it tweaked to their preference, it provides me an opportunity to truly delight a person.
Q: Any anecdote you may want to share?
– While I was pursuing my Hotel Management, I would have my friends complain that though I studied cooking I had never made anything especially for them. One day, for one of our parties, I decided to rustle up chicken curry for them; they lapped up the curry in minutes and had the nicest compliments which I had, until then, heard only when my mom or grandmother cooked at home. This further ignited my passion and encouraged me to pursue a career in culinary arts.
Q: How long have you been cooking?
– It has been 18 years since I first started in the kitchen.
Q: Where did you train to be a chef?
– I began my training at The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur.
Q: Why did you choose to become a chef?
– The excitement I get from playing with ingredients, textures and flavors are unparalleled to the joy from any other profession. Cooking, like music is an art and each individual style and personality is reflected in their work.
Q: How would you describe your ‘Style of Cooking’?
– Having grown up in Haryana, my style of cooking is authentic, rustic and experimental.
Q: Which dish does you like cooking the most?
– I love cooking Parathas. Although it may sound very simple but they are indeed versatile. Right from the different types of flour you can use to the fillings and spices, to the accompaniments they can be served with, the combinations and variations are endless. It is this humble nature of parathas that I enjoy.
Q: What’s your favorite ingredient to cook? Why?
– My favorite ingredients are chilly and garlic because they are used in a variety of dishes and they add instant depth to any dish. They also are used in a variety of cuisines and enhance flavor, hence I often find myself reaching for them.
Q: What’s your most interesting/fun time in the kitchen every day?
– Breakfast has to be most fun filled time in the kitchen. Every morning, the service and culinary come together and perform like a well-orchestrated choir. The energy in the kitchen is infectious and the team spirit is evident.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you enter your kitchen for the day?
– As soon as I get to work I go over the ingredients that we have received to ensure quality control. I review the menus for the day to ensure everything is ready for the day’s service. If there are any ingredients that are non-available then I try to address that with the procurement teams.
Q: Which other chef do you admire?
– Chef Vikas Khanna is someone I admire and have had the privilege of collaborating with him and working closely at the hotel for the launch of Virat Kohli’s foundation in the month of June. He is such a great artist yet he is humble and grounded and that inspires the people around him.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a chef?
– One needs to be absolutely passionate. You will need to ignite that spark in you to come in to work and give your 100% as perfection is directly proportional to your dedication in the kitchen. It is a highly rewarding career if you are ready to put in that dedication.
Chef Harpreet Singh Sahai is the Executive Sous Chef at the Hyatt Regency Mumbai. His experience in the culinary field spans over 15 years. Having graduated from M.S. Ramiaha College in Bangalore, he started as a Hotel Management Trainee at Rambagh Palace, Jaipur. Chef Harpreet began his culinary journey as a Demi Chef de Partie at the Oberoi Rajvilas before joining the Hyatt group and enriching his experience through stints at the Park Hyatt in Goa and Hyatt Regency Taba Heights in Egypt where he has two successful Indian restaurant openings under his belt. He then assumed the role of Chef de Cuisine at Hyatt Regency Mumbai where he has moved up the ranks to his current position where he overlooks the culinary operations at Glasshouse, the all-day dining and STAX, the award-winning Italian restaurant.
Chef Harpreet offers his patrons a unique and satisfying dining experience with a quality menu composed of fresh, versatile ingredients that always leaves a smile on the guest’s face. He believes hard work and passion for food are the cornerstones of culinary success.