It takes years of training and experience to make a mark in the culinary world. Chef Ashish Kumar joined the industry at a young age of 16 when he used to go with his father to attend to the catering business which eventually bloomed his interest in the hospitality industry.
Right after 10th, he joined the vocational course in food service and management, post which he completed his 3 years degree from the Institute of Hotel Management, Gurdaspur. After years of training and working with known Hotels like Le Meridien , New Delhi as a trainee for almost 12 – 14 hours a day through the initial years and mentored by the best masters in cuisines, he levelled up to Demi Chef De Partie. That gave him an opportunity to work at The Metropolitan Hotel in New Delhi as Demi chef de partie in their all day dining and looking after many things like banquet operation and breakfast operations. After a great experience at Metropolitan Hotel, he moved to United Arab Emirates and joined Double Tree By Hilton Resort and Spa , Marian Island, Ras Al Khaimah where he got trained in French and Italian cuisines.
3 years after, he moved to Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi in their Multicuisine restaurant called Teatro where he was in charge of western cuisine. Later he moved to an Award winning Gastro Pub Called COOPERS in the same Hotel where he received great exposure. After that, he joined as the Sous Chef in Saadiyat Rotana & Villa where he handled the Italian Kitchen with his Chef de cuisine and a brilliant team.
So, here’s getting to know a little more about Chef Ashish Kumar as we interview him.
Can you define your role at the Saadiyat Rotana & Villa, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates?
I am working as a SOUS CHEF in one of the restaurants called SI ( Casual Italian Restaurant ) in Saadiyat Rotana. I have a team of 8 brilliant chefs . So, basically from duty roasters to ordering, menu engineering, maintaining food cost with the guidance of my executive chef, taking care of guest needs, it all comes under my role and yes the most important role is taking my all team members together in every step as I believe that unity is a strength.
What has inspired you to become a Chef and when did you know you wanted to become a Chef?
At the age of 16 I started to study about food as I joined a vocational course in food service and management but I was not serious at all. Then my father was the one who made me take interest in this field as he has a catering business and he took me every morning to the vegetable market. The way he is selected the ingredients, vegetables ,the freshness and the aroma of fresh vegetables and then later how they cooked the delicious food which amazed me on how one can turn the raw ingredients into a mouth-watering dish. Well , that’s creativity and from there I got interested which helped me start my journey to become a chef which is still going on and then later the trainings in different hotels always motivated me .
Share some interesting facts that you would want others / fellow Chefs to know about your experience in this journey that could inspire them.
Being a chef , I feel like almost a scientist and an artist as I learn about different food items , their effects , I learn how to plate up the dishes in a beautiful manner, got to know about different world cuisines, live in a fast pace kitchen operations, making me always proud that yes I did something by making people happy through my food . It feels good when the guest praises you for the food which is cooked by you.
What’s your philosophy on food and cooking?
My Philosophy on food and cooking is based on one quote “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” Food is the combination of simple and delicious ingredients , just keep it simple with its natural flavours and you will feel the real taste.
Is there a cultural difference on working patterns in India and the UAE?
Well not much difference as both countries are very well versed with the latest cooking techniques, they both have their authentic food, both countries have fantastic chefs. The only thing I feel is that here we worked with so many different nationalities, we understand their emotions, working style and how to work in a busy period with a different mid set . I think this factor is quite helpful to get an international exposure.
What’s some good advice you’ve been given?
Well I admire one chef in my life. He is my idol; Chef Sandeep Panwar(EXECUTIVE CHEF , HOLIDAY INN , AEROCITY, NEW DELHI). He has always motivated me in my bad times. When I left my job , sitting at home, I was so demotivated and at that time then he called me and encouraged me to join the industry again. He said that I have lot of potential and I just cannot waste that. There is lot for me in the industry and I took his advice and joined back with him in my second hotel. I am always thankful to him otherwise I would be lost somewhere in the world. He has always guided me whenever I asked him for some ideas.
What interesting trends do you foresee in the near future that would change the way the culinary world operates?
Well there are already so many new trends going on these days but still I believe there is lot we can do to bring more healthy concepts , healthy menus and restaurants which only serves vegan and healthy food.
- What should be kept in mind when a Chef faces pressure at the work place?Yes, sometimes there is lot of high pace in the service during the operations. What I used to do with my team is to maintain a cool environment, guide them in between, clear observation and planning which works a lot during the busy times.
What’s that one dish that brings a smile to your face?
The food cooked by my mother always brings a smile on my face specially THE RAJMA CHAWAL combo because since my childhood I am always eagerly waiting to have food which is cooked by my mother.
What’s your favourite cuisine and why?
Well though I worked in almost all type of concepts from banquet to specialized kitchen, I love the cuisines all over, but still I feel very comfortable when I am making Italian food may be I worked with some really good Italian chefs who teach me the very basics of Italian Food and the freshness of the ingredients, Flavours, herbs and add on to that the cuisine is similar to Indian cuisine also as some of the major ingredients are common from tomatoes to rice.
Your Signature Dish that would like customers to try?
Seared Scallops with Bisque Poached Asparagus
11. What message would you like to give other aspiring Chefs?
Learning and hard work go hand-in-hand, while effort, passion, patience, discipline and love can conquer all. It takes a range of values to bring about success. This is the key to having and achieving a goal. This profession is exciting and full of achievable dreams, but it also requires lots of effort and hours of hard work. Think of combinations you like first, how you could make them or improve them, optimise them and don't place limits on your creativity. Always look to learn new techniques and combinations.
12. Your thoughts on Your Chef Story.
Your Chef story is a very good platform for the chefs and for the budding chefs to showcase their talent , everyone has a unique story and we never know which story will motivate us and on this platform of your chef story new generation chef for sure learn and take this site as a tool for the growth of their career .
My Social Links
MY SITE – www.cookwithashish.com
Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/chefashu42
Instagram – Chefashish