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November 2017, Issue"Quick Bits with Chef Gaurav Chawla"

Gaurav ChawlaHead of Cuisine Azure Hospitality Private Limited

Chef Gaurav Chawla has graduated from IP University, Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology having 10 years of expertise in the culinary field. His focus is to deliver the ace product with the freshest ingredients at source. He handles menu planning, standardization of new recipes, menu engineering, monitoring adherence to good hygiene practices & HACCP Standards in regards with upcoming market trends & guest preferences.

Mentoring under Jiggs Kalra and Zorawar Kalra, he had learned a lot and that period was life changing era for him. He got opportunities to think out of the box and come up with exceptional and never thought of product on the plate.

Indian cuisines are undoubtedly his favourite cuisine as it has so many different flavours from each state. The Indian culinary heritage is extreme rich in spices, herbs and ingredients which brings a number of dishes altogether.

He don't have specialized in any particular cuisine, however his base is Indian cuisine with contemporary plating. At the same time, he specializes in the aspects of molecular gastronomy that transforms the shape & texture of any dish with the application of food grade edible chemicals. He loves to innovate new dishes keeping the original flavour intact with the right technique, adding the right ingredients and not to mess the dish.

He thinks whole grains for promoting good health is the new trend in the market. There are so many ingredients that people are not aware of and haven't used yet. This could be the next big thing to explore & cherish what we have in our country. One can try and innovate with those ingredients, make people aware & educate the same.

Recently he joined Azure Hospitality Private Limited as Head of Cuisine. A quick bits from Chef Gaurav Chawla.

Turning Point

My education in culinary was by chance & not by choice. I was a Medical student at the Intermediate school level, could not appear for medical entrance exams due to some health issues. I have got a couple of options, either to reappear for the next year or to choose one career which I can relate to. Applied the hotel management exam later as I thought I can justify myself getting the knowledge of the nutritional values & techniques of the food; managed to crack the exam with good rank. I got immense respect for the Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology which taught me about the know how of the field, the virtues & vices, basic knowledge of the ingredients, cooking techniques, utensils & equipments used, the focus on plating and presentations. Learning about food and getting the basics right with the science applied inspired me a lot that can satisfy any soul. Gradually, experimenting with different ingredients and cooking techniques convinced me to take this path ahead for my future prospects.

Challenging Task so Far

The most challenging task would be the assignment of the coffee shop kitchen in 2010 Olympics at ITDC, The Ashok Hotel. I used to handle the whole Kitchen operations being a chef understudy at that phase. I had very good mentors throughout who always believed in me & given me the opportunity to prove that I am worth that any task given. I used to come every morning at 5:30 for the breakfast of the international Olympic teams staying in the hotel and go late in the night. Learnt many a things handling this for a stretch of 3 months. I felt a lot more responsible and capable of doing likewise projects.

Funniest Movement in Kitchen

There are not many of these funny moments but I used to enact some of the weird & stubborn chefs I came across. When they got to know about this, they did ask me to do so in front of them, so that turned into quite an embarrassment and fun moment too.

Message for Budding Chefs

My most important message for the budding chefs is to keep your attitude right & positive. It's always attitude not your aptitude which determines your altitude. I would prefer taking a less knowledgeable cook with great attitude and work ethic over a talented prodigy with pissy attitude any day of the week. Get your basics right and don't worry about what you get paid. Don't ever think you are above learning from anyone, I learn from my team as much as they learn from me. Don't be discouraged if things seems to go slow and tedious at the beginning. Flirt with the ingredients and they will be all over you.