There are a few culinary experts who know the art to cooking as well as understand the importance of customer satisfaction that eventually make restaurants a huge success through new innovative techniques. Here is one chef who is highly talented and has left no stone unturned in coming up with best of strategies and concepts that not only make a restaurant popular but also proven to increase its revenues.
Chef Aabhas Mehrotra is one of those unique experts in this field. He is a passionate professional in the field of arts who started his career in 2011 where he graduated from IHM – Aurangabad. Post that he pursued post-graduation with the Oberoi School of Learning and Development. In the interim, he got various opportunities to train with best chefs across the city and also to explore various cultures from Kolkata, Agra, Shimla as well as the major metros. Post that he got his first placement at one of the best hotels in Mumbai and has never looked back since then. Over the period of time he has honed his skills from the best in the business and now he works towards developing strategies and conceptualising restaurants.
We are pleased to feature him on our platform today. Get to know Chef Aabhas Mehrotra in his interview here.
What aspect about the culinary world attracted you to be a part of it?
Well while growing up, my passion was not actually cooking but it was more towards establishing and running a successful restaurant, I was always amazed by the operations and how did restaurants and hotels operate, well 12 years later I am still amazed and will always love the industry.
Share some interesting facts that you would want others / fellow Chefs to know about your experience in this journey that could inspire them.
I got an excellent advice from one of my fellow chefs while I was training in Mauritius. He told me for the next 15 years be humble and try to snatch all the work from your colleagues, in the process the knowledge, skill and the respect you will gain will benefit your next 15 years. This thought had stuck to my heart and I think I can do that for another 15 years .
What is the importance of balancing creativity in the menu and managing food costs?
It is extremely important that you strike a perfect balance, with the present times all restaurants chase profitability. As young chefs we need to use more local produce and work with the produce available in the region, this practice gives out a better product and makes the chef much more creative whilst maintaining the food cost at par.
What does it take to retain a skilled culinarian? What efforts do you think go in making them showcase their full potential?
Well those times are gone where recipes and skill were noted in a book and kept in a locker. Chefs theses days strive on sharing, spreading knowledge and the most important teaching the younger culinarians, this is what retains them and keeps them motivated at all times. You need to earn respect, with the young guns I guess that is what GEN Z is all about.
What’s the best advice you have received from your mentors?
Well the best advice I received was to be a little more stern and strict with my staff and not treat them as friends, I obviously took the goodness out of it.
As an Executive Chef, what is the most important factor to be kept in mind when managing a restaurant? Are there any challenges that you would like to highlight?
As a hospitality professional it is extremely important to see the guests perspective and accept criticism, if you overcome this challenge your restaurant is meant for greatness.
What interesting trends do you foresee in the near future that would change the way the culinary world operates?
Well the pandemic has changed the industry completely. Everyone has been given a fresh slate to begin and work with. I feel few trends which will be the highlights for the next year would be:
- Hygiene will be the new delicious
- Technology and various delivery/ payment portals will play a big role
- Menus will shrink with more emphasis on local produce and healthy meals
- More emphasis will be placed on take away menus
- Restaurant retailing will be explored as an alternative revenue stream
- Recreating your favourite restaurant dish at home will be simpler with DIY Kits
- Crowded bars will be a thing of the past
Could you highlight your thoughts on the importance of organic produce and how do you think will this impact the days to come?
More than organic, local produce will be given far much more importance as firstly, it will bring the cost of ingredients considerably down. Secondly, it will support the local farmers and chefs will be looking to work and support the community. Thirdly, to reduce the carbon footprint which is a global concern right now.
What are your thoughts about Home Chefs? Do you have any message for them?
The entire pandemic has made everyone put their chef caps on and I must say it’s much more difficult to cook at home than in a kitchen. Much respect to home chefs and keep doing what you’re doing.
What’s that one dish that brings a smile to your face?
That one dish which always brings a smile on my face is a cheese garlic naan, levels of comfort are described in these words. I can have it at any time of the day “Hungry or not”.
What’s your favourite cuisine and why?
My favourite cuisine is Italian, because Italian cooking is all about the produce. It’s simple and honest cooking which makes it one of the most commercial cuisines in the world which is liked by all age groups.
What activities do you take up to up your game in the culinary world?
I read a lot, staying up to date with the culinary trends is extremely important in our industry
Your Signature Dish that would like customers to try?
Recently created an Italian inspired ramen, a mix of both the worlds. Some of my Signature dishes are as below.
Zucchini Guacamole ( Made with slow cooking zucchini skin, since avocado is not used in Italy and guacamole is one of India's top selling items in any menu, we thought of creating our very own guacamole)
Cacio E Peppe (We all have seen a generic Cacio e Peppe, made with spaghetti. We made a cacao e Peppe farce and made a stuffed tortelli accompanied with a basil broth)
Parmesan gelato with caviar (made for a tasting menu for Russian caviar house, the combination worked really well)
Would you like to give a message to other aspiring Chefs?
Please understand logic, and What? Where? Why? And How? Of any process, this help understanding much better and creates those pockets of curiosity and further inspiration. Don’t do work because you have been asked to do so, understand for what are you prepping for and what will the end product be.
Your thoughts on Your Chef Story.
Definitely a great platform and initiative to socialize with fellow colleagues, understand and support each other philosophies and possibly work together in the near future.