As for Chef Parimal Sawant, the best possible gig shares his level of passion and provides opportunities to practice it. His role as Executive Chef at Meluha-The Fern and Hotel Rodas is the culmination of a lifetime interest in food, coupled with enthusiasm to create and build from the best of all.
Tell us about your background and how you have come to the hotel industry, especially into your chosen line of cooking.
My first love is food and loved to explore new dishes as well, since adolescence.
My grand maa played an important role in choosing this as a career. She had always prepared delicious food and I used to stand by her in the kitchen and saw how she made food and was always amazed of the taste of my favourite dishes cooked by her.
My grand maa was an inspiration and the food I prepare, every time I dedicate it to her.
Where you have done your training?
During my early years I had an interest in the culinary world and soon found myself enrolled in the Hotel Management Diploma program at the Sophia Polytechnic. It was the perfect outlet, offering me the chance to combine my love of creating and building with the zeal for preparing exceptional food.
Upon completion of the program, I joined as Chef-de- Partie at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in 1995. The next 10 years I excelled in being a Team leader, a Trainer and Client Servicing at the property.
Coming to the kitchen side of the hotel industry, how did you plan and visualize it?
After I worked as a CDP in the Taj, in an effort to gain additional experience, joined The Orchid, where I accepted a position as a Junior Sous Chef. Later honed my culinary skills at The Renaissance Hotel and Convention Centre (Marriott) as Chef-de- Cuisine.
Hired by Courtyard by Marriott Ahmadabad as Executive Sous Chef in December 2012, I was able to put his diverse talents to good use by introducing culinary themes for MoMo Cafe buffet set ups and surprising the patrons of the city with innovative ideas and food festivals.
With regard to kitchen planning, in most of the cases it is done by architects and designers in consultation with Chefs. But from your experience, you talk about accessibility. Please comment on that.
When it comes to kitchen planning, it is usually done by architects, but the whole design comes from the chef's mind because he thinks in an operational point of view. Considering that the chefs would be comfortable working in the kitchen, is there enough space to move around, will the guest be getting a quick service, all such things plays an important role.
How do you rate the food which is going to be cooked in the kitchen and served at the table. How much weightage do you to give to both cooking and serving?
Well I think both play a very important part at both ends. If your food does not have a great taste then it is worthless, and if the service is not good, it does not leave a good impression.
When it comes to guests, he would be happy to the core only if the food and the service would be great. That is why both have an equal weightage for cooking and serving.
When you are cooking the food, when the guest is of old age, can you suggest something more suitable to his palate?
Yes, every time when we host a guest who is elderly, we suggest them food which is less spicy, or probably easy to consume and process which would be good and suitable to the palate.
When you are talking about 10 guests or a thousand guests, the preparation is going to be different. In that case what is your preference for the cookware and the cooking pots?
Definitely, when it comes to a smaller amount we usually use small pots and pans as it is easier to control the heat and get flavor. But when it comes to a larger number of guests, there are options like brat pans, tilting pans or steam kettles which makes cooking in bulk easier and faster. We also have the technology of Combination ovens which runs on electricity, makes it efficient and even.
What about the technology. Like when you are talking about gas, or the induction thing. Are you going to use the same thing or it is going to be different?
Both are suitable for different places, like a gas is very much suitable for a basic kitchen as it is easier to maintain, you can control the heat and it is user friendly. An induction looks good in a live counter or an open kitchen as it looks good and is less messy.
Tell us about the Green Practices you follow in your kitchen.
Being an Ecotel hotel, we follow Green practices to a "T". Here we segregate waste, save water as much as possible, do our cooking in small batches to avoid wastage and keep it fresh
How do you rate the importance of fuel while in the kitchen. What are the hazards of using different fuels?
Fuel plays a vital part in our kitchen operation as it is only thing that gives heat that we are able to produce. We use here CNG as it emits less pollution and is Eco friendly. Shortcomings of using different fuels is that it may damage the machine.
With more and more technologies coming up, do you think cooking is going to be more advanced?
I see one should have flare of innovative dishes and presentation skills, Confidence and strong belief to make things work well with perfect planning and understanding the time of action and preference of the food lovers towards their needs and requests.
I think it should always be fresh, simply crafted food and with the new trend of molecular gastronomy, it is time to bring the old classics back.
Do you have a Disaster Plan in place in case of an emergency.
Emergencies and disasters strike quickly and without warning so we are always prepared when a crisis arises, be it a medical emergency or it is guest related service issue.
Earlier people were saying that Chefs don't disclose their recipes. Now a days with an open kitchen everybody is seeing what you are mixing. So how do you think the Chefs can keep their recipe a secret?
I don't think nowadays any chef is keeping their recipe a secret, it's all about giving and sharing the knowledge. We Chefs always try to create something new and innovative for new trends which a normal person cannot. That is why we always have something new to share every time
Have you ever got any ideas or inspiration from your guests?
I usually get my inspiration from elderly guests with their different knowledge of ingredients which many people don't use nowadays and traditional cooking techniques they used earlier. I also get ideas from fitness freaks how they incorporate healthy ingredients into delicious meals.
What is the message you are going to give to our readers, as a Chef, about the kitchen. How the people can plan their kitchen. Whether it's a domestic kitchen or a commercial kitchen. What points they can keep in mind while designing it, etc.?
Well some points to keep in mind are:
• Set a Budget
• Write Down what Your Current Kitchen Lacks
• Determine Your Wants and Needs
• Analyze the Available Space
• Decide How to Arrange Appliances
• Look at All Your Options
Tell us briefly about your concept of an Ideal Commercial Kitchen.
An ideal commercial kitchen should have an Ergonomical kitchen design, should be energy efficient, have the appropriate size and equipment of the commercial kitchen that meets all the standards of health and safety, good ventilation and easy to maintain.
Any message you want to give to our readers about the kitchen. How can they make their dream kitchen?
Never say NO....to anything and that is a secret mantra.