An art without passion is just a technique. Driven by immense passion for the culinary world, Chef Altamsh decided to turn that passion into his profession. Undoubtedly his decision has now taken him to the ‘ninth cloud’. Post his Hotel Management Studies from Rizvi College, Mumbai, he associated himself with Taj. He started off his journey as an intern at Taj Lands’ End and then continued as a trainee at Taj SATS. With his determination and unique innovative ideology for food, he is now the Sous Chef at Taj SATS.
Let’s take a glimpse of his culinary journey here.
What has inspired you to become a Chef?
My Mom is a phenomenal cook and I used to love assisting her in the kitchen since my childhood. However, my father, like any other father wanted me to become a doctor as my elder brother is a Software Engineer. However, I had other plans. I decided to turn my passion into profession.
How would you describe your experience of working with Taj SATS?
Subsequent to Hotel Management studies at Rizvi College of Hotel Management in Mumbai, I had a dream start to my career with Taj SATS Air Catering, Mumbai. During this period I worked under the guidance of the Legendary Chef Satish Arora and a host of expatriate chefs who visited from time to time and this wonderful exposure shaped my career and culinary outlook immensely. I had received various awards and accolades which have only strengthened my resolution to learn and grow and sharing these learnings with other colleagues of my team gives me great satisfaction.
How long have you been cooking for professionally and what cuisine do you specialize in?
Six years! At present I am working at Taj SATS as a Sous Chef responsible for Japanese and Continental Cuisine. These two Cuisines have largely shaped my culinary philosophy. They taught me the importance of discipline for recipes, ingredients, tools, equipment and various cooking techniques.
How is working for Taj SATS different from working with a restaurant?
Taj SATS is the market leader in Airline catering. At present TajSATS is preparing almost 30,000 meals every day for various International and domestic airlines which consist of different cuisines like Indian, Chinese, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian etc. The menu keeps changing too often, so it’s a great learning for us as we get a chance to learn something new every day. Food is prepared in bulk by following standard recipes. We have to follow very high hygiene standards as compared to a restaurant.
Where did you take your training from?
I did my internship from Hotel Taj Lands’ End, Mumbai. During internship I had received 100% attendance award and Best kitchen Trainee award. I had attended the International Sushi Training Workshop organised by All Japan Sushi Association and Indian Federation of Culinary Association.
Can you highlight your experience in planning the flight menus?
Menu planning and new recipe development for in-flight meals is not just about simply creating new dishes but it also focuses more significantly on product performance, i.e. the factors which have been taken into account when preparing, chilling, holding and reheating on board the aircraft. This often means adjustments, ingredient alternatives and supplements that may have to be introduced to stabilize or improve the product. In addition, to alleviate excessive hot food smell on board the aircraft, food may have to be treated in special ways. Product development also involves experimenting with different pieces of equipment and process methods like examining alternative ingredient suppliers, and experimenting with new ingredients as and when they become available. On occasions, it may also mean cost reduction and draw up alternative recipes and dish specifications. So it’s a whole lot of different story at Taj SATS.
What are your thoughts on the Art of Food Plating in the culinary world?
If you are in a food service organization, you know that food plating and presentation are central to keeping guests happy and satisfied as they experience your food. However, plating is often overlooked by chefs who are either too busy or more concerned with the taste and flavours of their dishes. However, customers first eat with their eyes. Creative and thoughtful plating enhances the look, appeal and taste of your food.
Focusing on presentation also allows chefs to showcase their creations, innovations and demonstrates to the guests that they are getting food that is their money's worth. While there aren't any hard and fast rules when it comes to "correct" plating, there are several important concepts to keep in mind as you prepare and present your restaurant's delectable culinary creations.
Remember the points mentioned below to do a fantastic food plating.
- Choose the perfect and the right size of the Plate.
- Choose a complementary plate colour.
- Placing Your Ingredients
- Clockwise presentation
- Use moist ingredients as your base.
- Use burst of flavours
- Don't overcrowd your plate
- Think about colour and contrast
- Use ingredients and food to create height on your plate. Use various textures to enhance your dish
- Use sauces to create designs
- Choose edible garnishes and use them smartly
What’s your favourite cuisine and why?
Japanese Cuisine is something I hold close to my heart. We have many Japanese restaurants already in India. People have started trying Japanese food as we all know it is considered as one of the healthiest Cuisine due to its low-fat content and small portions. It is nutritionally well- balanced, light and healthy, which are the main reasons for the longevity of Japanese population. The diet is very low in cholesterol, fat, calories and high in fibre. We Indians are becoming health conscious day by day so within a few years I am sure Japanese Cuisine will become as popular as other cuisines.
Are there any chefs that inspire you?
Chef Satish Arora, Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Chef Gaggan Anand, Chef Vineet Bhatia are Chefs who inspire me.
What is your favourite restaurant that you like to visit during your free time?
My favourite restaurants are: WASABI (Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai), VISTA (Taj Lands’ End, Mumbai) and PERSIAN DARBAR (Mumbai)
Would you like to share anything else that would want the world to know about you and your achievements?
I got associated with Taj during my internship itself. I had worked with well-known Chef Satish Arora (Ex Director Food Production, Taj SATS. I was lucky as I got chance to lead the Japanese kitchen during my training period. Even Chefs from Japan appreciate Japanese food made by me. My dishes are on the menu of All Nippon Airways at present. I have judged many prestigious culinary competitions held by various organisations. I had also conducted culinary workshops in almost all the Hotel Management colleges in Mumbai. I have conducted many live cooking demos in events along with conducting sessions on Japanese and Thai cuisine at Amul Master Chef India Season 5. At this young age, I have received many appreciations and awards from various organizations. I am also a member of Western India Culinary Association, Indian Federation of Culinary Association and World Association of Chefs Society.
“I believe working without passion for an aspiring chef would be like a lemon with no zing. If you see food and flavours in everything around you and truly love to cook and serve others, you can be welcomed to the passionate world of culinary art!”
Are there any trends according to you that could change the future of the culinary world?
Due to frequent travel and exposure to the world, guests are very demanding these days. Value for money has emerged as the single most distinguishing criteria for guests in selecting their dining destination. With stronger emphasis through FSSAI guidelines, consumers are getting benefitted in terms of food safety and traceability like never before.
Growth year over year in the food service business has been at a very high pace. Restaurant hubs are mushrooming everywhere. But, only the fittest will survive. Guest will only come back if you offer them a wholesome experience with best food, service and ambiance. One needs to stand out and think out of the box. We see a maze of food concepts today with a wide variety of packed cut vegetables, choice of exotic fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, retort foods, quick service restaurants serving an array of delicacies, regional cuisines, and malls with live food counters, home delivery foods and diverse fine dining.
Your thoughts on Your Chef Story.
Yourchefstory.com is a great platform for the chefs to share their culinary journey with the hospitality professionals and also with the students of hotel Management Colleges who are pursuing degree and want to make their career in Food Production.