Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice!
This thought goes perfectly well with the newly formed pair called the Troublesome Duo, Chef Ashay Dhopatkar and Chef Neha Lakhani. With a strong background in the culinary world and passion for food, these two have come a long way to offer food enthusiasts the best of both worlds where Chef Neha brings in the sweetness and Chef Ashay adds the spice.
Here’s featuring the exciting story of the Troublesome Duo.
Chef Ashay Dhopatkar, who is presently the Chef De Cuisine & Co Founder - ‘Troublesome Duo Pvt Ltd’, grew up in Mumbai. He used to help his mother in her cooking classes and since the age of 8, he knew he wanted to become a chef. Having completed his education in Hotel Management and Hospitality, he moved on to honing his skills in the fundamentals of European Cooking in Hammersmith & West London College of Culinary Arts. This led him to work at the Michelin star Restaurant ‘No.1 Lombard Street’ alongside award winning Austrian Chef, Herbert Berger. Post his successful completion in MBA, he had the opportunity to work with several Michelin Starred Chefs like Mark Hix, Chef Gordon Ramsay at his grill restaurant in the iconic Savoy Hotel, Chef Shane Osborn of Le Pied de Terre, Celebrity Chef Raymond Blanc of the Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons, Chef John Campbell and many more. He has also been associated with several hotels such as the Park Plaza and the Hilton Group.
Chef Neha who is currently a Pastry Consultant and Co – Founder of ‘Troublesome Duo Pvt Ltd’ initially started her journey in the field of Finance and planned to complete her MBA. She soon realized that she wanted to pursue something creative. Starting off as a home baker, she wanted to take up professional training in baking which led her to study at the Le Cordon Bleu, Ottawa, and that's where her journey towards her culinary path began. Once she returned, she started her first job with ITC Maurya as a Kitchen Executive in the pastry department which she defines as the best months of her life. From that moment onwards, she has been wired with the finest MOF pattisiers and chocolatiers.
The Common Meeting Point
The Duo met at the Grub Fest 2015 where Chef Neha was wounded by a cut on her finger and Chef Ashay who was next door at a restaurant came to the rescue. Their paths met on that day and the journey of getting to know each others culinary interests began. Neha was very fascinated with Chefs Ashay’s food and decided to work in his previous restaurant and learn some hot food from him and he obviously benefited from her extremely amazing pastry skills. At this point, they decided to work together and build something of their own that defines them.
The Troublesome Duo
The name says it all! Chef Ashay and Chef Neha started off with ‘The Troublesome Duo’ which is a private consultancy for restaurants and hotels. They feel the name ‘Troublesome Duo’ fits perfectly well with their personality as they were considered as troublemakers by their family and friends when they were kids. They now plan to let everyone to know by this name and wish to take up interesting assignments together.
The Experiences That Motivate
At the beginning of her first job, Chef Neha’s speed of work was slow compared to the fast pace organized work flow in the hotel kitchen. Though her seniors were very cooperative and gave her a week to settle in, the environment was constantly competitive as she would face various reactions from people on her delivery of work. She decided to put in all her effort by working extra hours, not letting anything or anyone affect her and keeping a track of her performance post which she vastly improved and eventually made a mark for herself in this industry.
“I’d like to just tell the younger chefs, don't give up. It's not easy but it's definitely worth the happiness and peace thereafter. Having a dream is good but living the dream is even better.” - Chef Neha Lakhani
The one experience at the onset of Chef Ashay’s career, that had a deep impact on him was a special appreciation received from Chef Mark Hix.
“I remember being the only one left cleaning up the kitchen in the break, at my hotel school in London. When Chef Mark Hix came in and realized they forgot the Veg option on the Amuse Bouche, I volunteered to make a soup. He gave me go ahead and later that evening barged into the kitchen in front of everyone and demanded to see the boy who made the soup. He came to me and asked what I was doing and my future plans after school and then called his head chef and said, have a chat with this lad after dinner ... I want him... and left. In the evening, he signed his new book, remembered my name, wrote that on the book, gave it to me & said, well done. ”
“It’s a long winding road... full of struggle... but as you carry on refusing to quit... you realize you did the right thing. From there starts another journey with bigger struggles taking you to greater heights.” - Chef Ashay
Qualities That Define The Duo
The common qualities that the Duo share is their undying passion for food, hardworking nature and a focus towards achieving the same goal.
When it comes to desserts, Chef Neha takes a very classical route with only an occasional modern spin on them.
Chef Ashay on the other hand is someone who loves classic & rustic food combined with his modern interpretations blended with his ideologies and old school techniques.
“We strive to do better every day, in every plate, in every dish. We love innovation and challenges. I guess that's what gives us a reason to look forward to everyday. Most importantly we enjoy these hardships and that's what has helped us come so far”, says Chef Neha.
Cuisines The Duo Love
Chef Neha being a big foodie, is a fan of Japanese Food as it's so flavorful and yet so simple.
Chef Ashay is French by palate, British by habits & extremely Indian at heart and these are the 3 cuisines that he loves. He believes that every cuisine is great in its own way and he’s always up for trying out something new.
The Duo Signatures
Chef Neha’s Signature Dish: She recommends the Orange Spiced Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze and her Signature Make is Granola which happens to be a people’s favorite.
Chef Ashay’s Signature Dish: Pearl Barley & Wild Mushroom Porridge
Enjoying Some Free Time
It is highly imperative for the Duo to do what they like most in their free time.
Chef Neha loves and enjoys swimming in her free time. She is not a big TV fan but loves watching movies in theaters and tries to catch 2 movies every week, at least the late night shows. She also enjoys scrap booking a lot, making photo frames and personalized handmade cards with stickers
Chef Ashay on the other hand loves to read. His favorite hobbies are angling and sport fishing.
According to Chef Neha, 10 years down the line, food would be simpler, authentic, classic and clean. She feels all the lot of drama would be over by then.
Chef Ashay feels that seasonality & the use of slow grown foods will be the future trend.
Thoughts on Your Chef Story
"I think it's a great platform which gives the chefs a chance to talk about their life and their journey. Usually other blogs are more keen on recipes and advertisements than the story of the chef. The idea that you focus on the life of a chef is in itself a great thing. I wish you loads of success in this venture." - Chef Neha Lakhani
Photo Courtesy: Chef Ashay & Chef Neha
Follow the Troublesome Duo on Instagram: @troublesomeduo.official