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What is your earliest kitchen related memory?
I have a fond memory of assisting my mother in making Aloo Papad and Sabudana Papad every spring season. I also loved helping my mother make fresh green chutney by grinding on the sil-batta and helping her make the most delicious nimbu achaar.
What made you fall in love with cooking so much that you chose to be a chef?
I was fortunate to be born in a Marwari family where most of the conversations were around food. Everyone loved sharing and cooking food for each other, eating the right food in the right season was emphasized. With time, I realized, food excites me and I started experimenting with cooking. I discovered the best feeling when I cooked for my family and the joy it brought to their face. That’s when I decided to become a chef. It is a very fulfilling career.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you have received yet?
I was almost about to leave this field exactly 10 years back because of the poor pay scale and difficult financial conditions. I knew cooking was my life but it was getting difficult to pay the bills and I almost made a practical decision to think of an alternative career. But my mentor Chef Dean gave me the best advice of my life i.e. to have patience and keep my focus on learning and if I keep my passion for food alive, nothing can stop me in succeeding.
What has India given to you as a chef?
Being Indian, one’s palette becomes very diverse as Indian cuisine is deliciously rich with a range of spices, herbs and vegetables. I learnt the art of pairing vegetables with different herbs and spices. Indian cuisine can create numerous different dishes using the same vegetables by playing with spices, herbs and oil.
What’s the most exhausting part of your job?
Being a chef requires extensive physical work which can be quite daunting. Working at a high temperature in the kitchen is always a difficult thing to do. But I must say, the satisfaction and happiness I get putting up a good meal are always rewarding.
What’s your idea of an ideal meal?
Food is all about love and a perfect meal is enjoying with the loved ones. Be it a simple home cooked meal or a delicious six-course meal, a meal is perfect only when you relish it with your loved ones.
Do you have a personal favourite culinary destination?
Italy is my old time favourite. The country has so much to offer, from the rich cuisine to the undying beautiful landscape, it is a paradise for any food lover.
What is your favourite cuisine and why?
Indian cuisine is always my favourite. I believe it is the most beautiful cuisine in the world, there is no other cuisine which has so much diversity and vibrancy.
Is there a mantra that influences tour cooking?
To use locally available seasonal ingredients, simple yet exciting dishes. The pleasure of cooking lies in cooking together and eating together.
What’s your favourite comfort food?
Home cooked Dal and Roti.
Name some of your favourite dishes
Hummus with freshly baked pita, Thai curries and Tiramisu.
If not a chef, what would you have been?
Probably would have been an investment banker or a photographer.
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Gaurav Achpalea is a qualified journalist, digital content creator and digital marketer. He has acquired his Master’s degree in Media and Communications from University of Wollongong Australia and is also a Google certified Digital Marketer.