In talks with KitchenAid Chef Of The Fortnight: Chef Stephen Gomes
– Head Chef, Chemistry 101, Mumbai
Q: What does cooking means to you?
– Cooking means Moksha (salvation) to me.
Q: What motivated you to become a chef?
– It is in my genes. I realised there is nothing else I can do!
Q: Any anecdote you may want to share?
– Love stories, but let’s not go that far. At a recent event which was a sit down dinner of 40 guests, we had a turnout of 150, with crockery planned for the 40 sit downs, serving 150 guests was a living nightmare that we somehow pulled off!
Q: High point of your work?
– To be able to cook with Lno2, especially making ice creams and the rotary evaporator. I am fascinated by the distillation process in food!
Q: How long have you been cooking?
– 22 years, to be precise.
Q: Where did you train to be a chef?
– I studied at IHM Mumbai, after which I began cooking at Hotel sun-n- sand
Q: Why did you choose to become a chef?
– I have always been drawn to a life of hustle and bustle. In the kitchen, it’s all about trial and error and timing. Being an adrenaline junkie, the kitchen atmosphere was very similar; it always kept me on my toes.
Q: How would you describe your ‘style of cooking’?
– In one word my cooking is – Interactive
Q: Which dishes do you like cooking the most?
– I have two favourites. Dr Strange, since it has a lot of theatre and flavour & the classic butter chicken.
Q: What’s your favourite ingredient to cook? Why?
– I love the black peppercorns – I love the piperine in it – the pungency adds flavours to most of my dishes & is a must- have in my kitchens
Q: What’s your most interesting / fun time in the kitchen every day?
– The end of the night service and peace in the kitchen after a busy night is something I really look forward to…
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you enter your kitchen for the day?
– I wash my hands & enjoy a cuppa!
Q: Which other chef do you admire?
– Too many to name but a great fan of: Chef Yoshihoro Narisawa, Chef Massima Botturo, Chef Thomas Kellar and above all my father – Chef James Gomes.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a chef?
– For all those who want to become Chefs, I would like to share a quote from the movie Burnt. ‘God created apples & oysters. And you can’t improve recipes like that. But it’s our duty to try’.
Chef’s Profile: CHEF STEPHEN GOMES, HEAD CHEF CHEMISTRY 101, MUMBAI
Mumbai-born Chef Stephen Gomes has lived in Cardiff for the past 16 years, where his signature take on traditional Indian recipes has gained him a place among the most respected chefs in the UK. He is the fourth generation in his family to be a Chef. Stephen’s father was an Executive Chef at the prestigious
– Sand five-star hotel in India, his grandfather was a chef on board a battleship during the Second World War, and his great grandfather was Head Chef at the Eastern Shipping Company during the Raj.
As a child, Chef Stephen had hoped to be a fighter pilot – but his love of food won out and he decided to explore the flavours of his homeland, studying at the Institute of Hotel Management in Mumbai and training in the kitchens of Mumbai and five-star hotels. Renowned for his pioneering take on traditional Indian recipes, Stephen is credited as being among the first chefs to experiment with natural food science in his dishes. A true Gastro-physicist at heart, his passion for food and innovation clearly transforms itself in the sensational and unique tastes, textures and presentation of his dishes. This signature style has seen Chef Stephen cook for many dignitaries – including those of the former US President George Bush, a host of Hollywood and Bollywood stars, and most recently the players of both the Indian and Sri Lankan cricket teams (including the legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Navjot Sidhu). Committed to nurturing young talent, Chef Stephen is also a former lecturer at the Asian Oriental School of Catering in Hackney and has lectured in modern Indian cuisine. He continues to support young chefs coming into the industry, and offers them excellent opportunities for training by transferring his culinary skills. Year on year, he continues to support the South Asian Chef Competition – while as well as judging the competition, he provides advice and support to the Finalists following the competition.
Previously, he has also been invited to judge competitions including EuroSkills and the Asian Food Awards. Over the years, Stephen has made a number of additional contributions to the Industry through auctioning numerous Chef Nights off for charities including the Kidney Wales Foundation. He has supported events including those organised by Sight Support, part of Wales Council for the Blind. More recently he was invited to cook for the Welsh Asian Women’s Achievement Awards – a project designed to empower Asian women throughout Wales, and promote and applaud their representation in all aspects of Welsh life. Now firmly established as a Welsh Indian Chef, he is proud to be representing Wales in India, after being selected to open a new restaurant back in Mumbai. Recently opened in April 2016, Chemistry 101 is an innovative gastro-bar where science meets magic, situated in Lower Parel in Mumbai, looks to redefine and reimagine Indian cuisine. Through twisted tales, a dose of science and a touch of magic and soul, diners will be taken on a culinary journey of exploration.