In talks with KitchenAid Chef Of The Fortnight: Chef Ravi Saxena
– Corporate Chef,Dhaba by Claridges
Q: What does cooking mean to you?
– Cooking to me is life and religion. Today if I see myself in last 23 plus years, whatever I am and have become is because of cooking only. Initially when I started my career, I had no clue about cooking or any kitchen skills. Gradually with passage of time cooking became profession to me where I could see myself jelling well with it. Later when I explored further, I realized it has so much depth that one can, create, explore and invent with sky being the limit.
Q: What motivated you to become a chef?
– I started cooking only after I joined the hotel management institute in Goa in 1989. I had never tried my hands except for making tea / coffee at home before that. It was in the second year of industrial training at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi in 1990 wherein one gets exposed to all the departments of the hotel I felt I fit in best in Production department. That was the time I decided to make a career out of this.
Q: Any anecdote you may want to share?
– Amongst many anecdotes I very clearly remember one: During early years once I was cooking on the egg station in a very busy breakfast in one of past hotels when I had heard one lady pointing her finger towards me and was telling his somewhat naughty son that if you misbehave and do not study well …you will become like him. Instead of getting furious about it I had laughed at myself and coincidentally the same lady came and complimented me that the omelette I made for her was the best that she ever had.
Q: Highpoint of your work.
– The highpoint of my work was my command over Italian Cuisine and food. It was essentially because of my frequent visits to Italy where I trained in two 2 star Michelin Restaurants in Siena and Verona. During these visits what helped me the most was to understand the culture, taste, ingredients and the local people which ultimately became my strength.
Q: How long have you been cooking?
– More than 20 years.
Q: Where did you train to be a chef?
– Did three Years Diploma in Hotel Management from IHM Goa, Industrial Training in Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. First job as a Chef Trainee at The Leela Goa.
Q: Why did you choose to become a chef?
– Never chose to be one, just happened but yes, chose to be a better chef to excel in my field.
Q: How would you describe your ‘Style of Cooking’?
– Authentic and sticking to the culinary limits of a particular cuisine. In a nutshell, simple and tasty with a strong focus on “what’s on the plate”
Q: Which dishes do you like cooking the most?
– Any Pasta and Butter Chicken
Q: what’s your favourite ingredient to cook? Why?
– Fresh Basil and Fresh Coriander. They bring and immense amount of freshness in food if used in the right manner.
Q: What’s your most interesting/fun time in the kitchen every day?
– When the restaurants are packed and there is no breather in the kitchen.
Q: Which other chef do you admire?
– All Chefs known to me are admirable in their own way.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a chef?
– To make it big in any field you need to have an equally big base and foundation. I believe that along with technical skills, a basic education of the same through theoretical knowledge is must or else the journey will be too long and with increasing competition things are not easy these days.
Chef’s Profile: RAVI SAXENA, CORPORATE CHEF, DHABA BY CLARIDGES