With years of experience in working with large hotel chains and a wide understanding of his industry, Chef Himanshu has now evolved as the famous Director of Culinary at St Regis, Mumbai. Along with being a culinary expert, he is an enthusiastic photographer who enjoys spending time with family, loves music, travel and most of all explore new destinations and new cuisines during his travels. Lauded with many prestigious awards for his expertise, he now stands as one of the most known faces of the culinary world. Here’s getting to know Chef Himanshu Taneja a little better:
Your inspiration to become a Chef.
I entered into the culinary world at an early age. Born into a Punjabi family with a keen love for food, I tried my hand at simple creations while my parents were away at work. My love for this new hobby sparked my decision to become a Chef. While I have experience in a variety of Indian and global cuisines, my specialization lies with European cuisine. Having worked with European and American chefs in the early part of my career, I have always enjoyed playing with flavors, textures and reinventing dishes with herbs, spices & flavours.
In your line of work, creativity is of utmost importance. What is your take on creativity?
Creativity is crucial for this line of work. Chefs must know the tradition and history of the food they work with, as well as numerous ways to combine ingredients.Travel is the biggest experience that one can learn from – I enjoy exploring the culinary traditions of every place that I visit: the ingredients, the local produce and the style of cooking. I use this knowledge to create innovative dishes, infusing the contemporary with the traditional.The same as I encourage sending our teams on task-force for cross exposure, I also encourage inviting chefs to our hotel on task force. This helps us enhance our knowledge and compare notes with chefs who deal with a different target audience in different city.
Share some experiences on your road to success that could help inspire other Chefs and aspiring Chefs.
I have a very talented and enthusiastic culinary team at The St. Regis Mumbai. Ever since I joined the organization, my objective and commitment towards the team is to motivate them to ensure that they deliver their monthly targets efficiently. The kitchen is a place where teamwork is very important and that is built by motivating the team to work hard, have mutual respect and ensure that performance is at the highest level. So far, the team has been performing extremely well under my leadership.As a chef, being at any level, I believe it is important to work closely with the team in a hands-on manner.This is one of the biggest motivating factors for the team, as communication channels are open and transparent.It is also important for different members of the team to have cross-exposure through task force placements. This helps in motivating the team as well as helps them understand the importance of team work and team building. One of the team building exercises I employ is competition surveys, encouraging all of us to converse together on what are the latest food trends and how each one can be more innovative and work with each other to create exciting experiences for our guests.
A successful innovation is the most encouraging and motivating exercise.The best team building exercise is to get away from our workplace for a day on a picnic or offsite to engage with each other away from the daily pressure. I will be planning this in the coming months for the team.
What are the current trends according to you that could help shape the food industry in the next few years?
While local food is a popular trend because guests are interested in knowing the nutritional value and taste of food & environment, healthy snacks is the fastest growing segment within the organic and natural foods markets. Vegetables will continue its rise on the dinner plate and they have become a mainstay in several main course dishes. People have become more health conscious, looking for ways to incorporate healthy living into their food.I am extremely active on social media, I post a lot of my work as well as follow chefs who post their creations. Social media today is one of the biggest mediums to keep up with global F&B trends.I recently was a part of Leadership Training session of a chocolate workshop with Chef Marike van Beurden; who is a renowned 3 Michelin Star chef. Being a part of the Michelin pop-ups with the chefs was an extraordinary experience which adds to your overall work experience and skill enhancement and sharing it with my team is where the essence of learning can be found. I was also part of the taskforce at the APAC Leadership Meet at The Ritz-Carlton Bali in 2016.
Being invited as a speaker at FHA- 2016 “FOOD AND HOTEL ASIA” SINGAPORE – 2016 was also extremely prestigious as only a few chefs were invited. This kind of exposure allows us to meet and interact with international teams thereby enhancing our knowledge and skills.
Your Signature dish that you would want fans and foodies to try out at St Regis, Mumbai.
By The Mekong: Black Pepper and Kaffir Lamb Chops, Barbecued
The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar: Subz Dum Biriyani
Yuuka: Avocado Bite
Luna Gusta: Chilean Seabass with Crab Butter Sauce
So all you food enthusiasts, on your next visit to St Regis, don't forget to try out these Signature dishes by our very own Chef Himanshu Taneja and enjoy the perfect dining experience at the exclusive diners at St Regis.