When travelling around the world, one of the most imperative factors is the food that gets served on the flight. Chef Sanjay Thakur who is currently an Inflight Chef at Etihad Airways caters to the First Class Guests by offering them a globally inspired dining experience.
With roots from Himachal Pradesh, India and backed by an experience of 11 years, he has excelled in adapting to food trends around the globe during his travels.
Here’s delving into the journey of Chef Sanjay Thakur and his thoughts on food, its trends and much more.
Rising Towards Greater Heights
His passion towards his culinary career and persistence towards ensuring constant growth and extensive learning are the qualities that define Chef Sanjay Thakur. He started his studies with Hotel Management in Chandigarh, India post which he joined as a STEP trainee with Oberoi Group of Hotels which is regarded as one of the best programs in India due to better opportunities for further studies. He then moved to Melbourne, Australia to pursue Hospitality Management at Holmes College.
On the completion of his course, he started his journey in Melbourne with Langham Hotel, one of the finest properties in the heart of Melbourne for a year. He explored working with event venues that helped him grow in different sectors and seasonal projects which included the Melbourne Cup, AFL league, Australian Open, International Cricket Tournaments and Caulfield Race Cup. Adapting to different styles of events and serving high end guests and celebrities grew his skills and led him to work with the banquet team at Australia’s best hotel Crown Casino for a year.
Watching his consistency and dedication, Chef De Cuisine of Nobu gave him a chance to work for Nobu, one of the high end restaurants in Crown Casino. After the understanding of different cuisines and how they were rated for a fine dining experience, he worked with a few big names over the period which comprised of Shannon Bennett at Vue De Monde ,George Colambaris Team at Press Club and Chef Bellucci. During his culinary career phase at Crown Casino, he had the opportunity to work for exclusive events with the world’s biggest names like Chef Gordon Ramsay , Nobu , Chef Atul Kochhar , Morimotto , David Burke Phillip Mouchel and many more.
Important Factors Leading To The Perfect Dish
Chef Sanjay feels that a dish is born according to the chef’s nature, so every time he creates something new, he loves to connect with ingredients and see how he responds to the freshness of it. He gives a lot of importance to Originality, Taste and Harmony. He says, “I should have a feeling that I own that dish after completing it as it represents me on the plate.”
Chef Sanjay’s Thoughts On The Future Of Indian Food In International Markets
According to Chef Sanjay, Indian food in the international markets is currently facing a struggle. After discussing this concern with lot of restaurant owners and those related to food trends, Indian Cuisine needs to step up the game.
He says that the concept of the current trend called molecular gastronomy is known by very few. He thinks, that in the process of creating a fusion with the dish, people are losing out on our authenticity. In order to draw light on this concern and create awareness, he regularly visits colleges to help aspiring chefs and those interested in the industry understand the meaning of molecular gastronomy.
Food lovers around the world know where to get best authentic French or Japanese cuisine but still get lost in the way to acquire the perfect Indian dining experience. So, he feels that if chefs start working on a right philosophy to promote Indian food, we will have a bright future showcasing our culture with a 100 percent Team of Indian chefs.
Challenges Faced And Means to Overcome Them
Chef Sanjay says that his current challenge is to make dinners across the globe understand that Indian food is much more than just kebab or spicy curries.
It can be defined in a much more better way for which he does pop ups in different countries thus defining the story behind dishes and the next popup will be held in Dubai.
“For me Indian cuisine is much more than curry rice or kebabs, it's about defining spices” – Chef Sanjay Thakur
Chef Sanjay’s Message For Aspiring Chefs
Chef Sanjay feels that a Chef should not copy but he should create and innovate. One should not cook to impress but should cook to express.
A few favorites of Chef Sanjay would be Indian forest -micro roots avocado, Spiced Green tea, red current, sesame sturgeon caviar and Tandoori Vegetables.
Achievements That Define Chef Sanjay Thakur
During his work at Etihad stadium at Melbourne, he came to know about the inflight chef profession which brought him to Abu Dhabi where his work inspired a lot of people around. In the year 2014, he got selected from India to represent the country at the Bocuse D’OR Asia Pacific which is regarded as the biggest title in the culinary world and a dream for many passionate chefs.
He was also awarded as the Culinary Champion for Etihad which motivated him even further. In 2015, he represented Middle East and Etihad in San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 held at Cape Town where he finished as second best in the Middle East.
2016 was an icing on cake where he got selected for the second time to represent India in Bocuse D’OR which was a great achievement.
He was also awarded for his contribution by Maluna University.
At Young Chef Conference in New Delhi by IFCA he was honored to be part of live demonstrations alongside Chef Hirotoshi and other great dignitaries and later was awarded for his outstanding work in the culinary world.
Recently in February 2017 at the Hospitality Fest at AIMS Bangalore, he was awarded as an outstanding chef.
He says his journey so far has been fantastic and being member of IFCA have just opened a lot of doors of opportunities for him.
Chef Sanjay’s Thoughts on yourchefstory.com
It is a great platform for chefs to share their experiences with their followers, dinners or even the ones who have not yet connected to the chefs.
Sharing right talent to the right audience would definitely be a great tool and would help our industry grow – Chef Sanjay Thakur