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RAPID FIRE WITH CHEF RAVI SAXENA

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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

“No matter what cuisines we try, Indian food is what we have grown up on and desi tastes will always remain close to our hearts. With Dhaba by Claridges, I have tried to please our guests with signature dishes which resonate the typical flavours found at dhabas like Balti Meat and many more delicacies. We have ambitious plans for Dhaba by Claridges and hope not only to expand in Delhi but outside this city as well.” – says Chef Ravi Saxena
PROFILE
The Claridges, a luxury hotel, widely recognized for seamlessly blending old world charm and modern elements, boasts of an outstanding kitchen headed by the talented Chef Ravi Saxena.
Chef Ravi has developed his culinary skills over the past 23 years. After graduating from IHM Goa, he started his career as a Kitchen Trainee with The Leela in 1992. Soon after, he joined The Holiday Inn, Pune as second in command to the Executive Chef to take responsibility for the kitchen right from its inception. However, not one to be content with his laurels, Chef Ravi then spent a year in 1999 at Baisan International Hotel, Bahrain with a versatile and efficient performance in Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian, Arabic and Continental cuisine.
He followed this up with The Imperial where he joined as a Junior Sous Chef and opened the Italian Restaurant ‘San Gimignano’ and was later promoted to Executive Sous Chef in 2005. During this stint at Imperial, he was exposed to two 2 star Michelin restaurants in Siena and Verona in Italy to hone his skills in Italian Cuisine. Skilful and recognized for his managerial abilities, he defines these experiences as a quest to gain more knowledge of his craft. The opportunity to meet and learn from chefs, he feels, allowed him to groom and familiarize himself with international standards and practices.
A milestone in his lavish career, Chef Ravi joined The Claridges in 2007 as an Executive Chef. His dedication, talent, eagerness to relearn and determination to train those working with him are just a few of the attributes that he brings to the table along with flavours and tastes that charm gourmands in an instant. A gem in the flourishing demeanour of The Claridges, in 2010 Chef Ravi was promoted to Corporate Chef for The Claridges Hotels and Resorts Group – with 5 hotels in Delhi NCR and outside Delhi as well.
2013, The Claridges stepped out of the hotel premises to present the quintessential ‘dhaba’ experience in a lighter, more fun ambience with Dhaba by Claridges in Saket, Gurgaon and Nehru Place which is on the verge of opening. Besides this the company has ambitious plans of taking this brand outside Delhi to other Cosmopolitan cities. Chef Ravi Saxena is an integral part of this venture too with his duties as Corporate Chef for the brand and these outlets and the base kitchen. He has interestingly separated the Dhaba menu into three parts; tawa, tandoor and patila, and delivers nothing less than a spectrum of delightful and authentic Indian cuisine. Given the number of outlets, the responsibilities on Chef Ravi are colossal and yet he carries out his duties with par excellence. Dhaba by Claridges, since its inception has won all the major awards from various publications and foodie groups for the best North Indian Restaurant (Standalone Category) in Delhi NCR Region. The latest was Times Food Award for the best North Indian Restaurant, Standalone Category 2016 in Delhi.

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