A kitchen is a place which is closest to the chef’s heart so what is the best thing you like about Seven Seas Hotel kitchen and why?
Chef Jagdeep:- It is a well equipped, state of the art kitchen backed by a right mix of young, experienced, energetic and fearless staff that has been given a free hand to excel and express their innovative ideas, both contemporarily as well as classical.
Seventh Sense in Seven Seas Hotel is a 150 seater multi-cuisine restaurant which boasts 8 cuisines, street food and a wine cellar. Chef, please share with us, how big is the team which works in it and how do they manage to do justice to all the cuisines?
Chef Jagdeep:- I have around 30-35 Chefs who work in Seventh Sense. I have travelled the world around and done my research for South Asian food. I have mastered in European cuisine and I started my career as an Indian Chef. As a leader, I have those qualities which I can transfer to my Chefs. Secondly, Seventh Sense is a well-researched restaurant. We did our research for a year not in terms of menu selection but in terms of picking up the right kind of Chef for that kind of cuisine experience. These Chefs are experts in their domain. So my team does the research. The whole exercise from conceptualization to the soft opening, it took us one year of research, planning, creating a data bank of dishes which are not just seasonal, detailing and presentation of dishes, that is why it has become successful so fast.
Fine Dine in your hotel focuses on Royal Indian cuisine. Chef, what was the reason for sticking to Indian cuisine for this restaurant. How well does it cater to the tastebuds of foreign guests?
Chef Jagdeep:- I personally believe that Indian cuisine is the most complete cuisine as well as the most highly vibrant cuisines and healthy cuisines world over which changes dramatically in terms of cooking techniques as well as with season. I will say, Indian cuisine is good for the soul not only because it is vibrant, but also it nourishes the body with a complete range of health benefits as well as in terms of minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates.
Secondly, geographically Indian cuisine has the advantage of being blessed with varied topography. We have Kashmir in one place and Kanyakumari down in the South. All those climate changes which happen the world over, happen in India in different times of India so that helps in collecting different cooking techniques which are used the world over, the raw material which is used everywhere in the world, we have those species in India. So, it is very easy for us to craft a menu for foreigners, with local ingredients and spices and cooking techniques which are similar to their nation. You take South Asia’s example or the European example, we already have the food we just have to twist it according to the taste, so it goes very well with that..
Bakeries these days have wide offerings with delicious flavours and taste in the buffet. Chef, please tell us about how you decide the bakery items that should be kept in the morning, wedding and corporate meeting buffet?
Chef Jagdeep:- All three are different and it is different thinking we have. For the morning bakery, it is all about the oven to the plate. We have an oven in the coffee shop which dispenses the fresh bakeries.
For weddings and all, there is a lavish buffet. It goes more on creamy desserts, custards, souffles and all those things that depend on the client which we are dealing with and their desires because weddings are once in a lifetime event. So, a bakery is one thing which gives the face. You can say, the looks and feel of those things. Whether it’s confectionery or bakery, it makes you feel like you have them. It becomes the feel of the whole main course and decorations of those things in a contemporary manner helps us. For weddings, we keep in mind the portion size because the number of dishes that we give at weddings is humongous. So for portions as we say, cake miniatures, pastry miniatures and souffles miniatures.
For the corporate, we have to be very careful because corporate affairs are an everyday affair whether they all are ascending for a meeting or all those things. It is in the bakes, they are having these things. So, we give them healthy food in a high fibre, low calories, bakery stuffs, multigrain cookies and all those so that they don’t feel empty stomach as well as they feel energetic. That is one difference between all three things.
Chef, since you have done menu planning for delegates like Bill Clinton and Mr Atal Bihari Bajpayee. Please tell us about the aspects which are kept in mind while planning the menu for such high profiles?
Chef Jagdeep:- There are two things which we always keep in mind. One is, the delegate is coming from which part of the world and second, what the delegate is liking. Secondly, what we want to showcase our cuisine as.So, we made a combination of these two, and like Atal Bihari Bajpayee, he had a sweet tooth. So, we had to develop things which are sweeter on side. He loved seafood so we experimented with that. We kept food lower on spices that is what we keep in mind. We always try to project our own dishes so that they can relish and talk about it.
Congratulations for being the head chef of the event which marked its presence in Guinness World Record for cooking 14160 kg of biryani! How was your experience and what was the biggest learning you got from the event?
Chef Jagdeep:- The learning is how to handle that much amount of stuff in terms of manpower, planning and the pressure that we had to deliver. That was one thing. Rest it was all fun. Having a name in the Guinness Book of World Record comes as an add on to that. It was an experience that is still closer to my heart.
It was a 10 ft deep handi and all those things that we created. It’s the teamwork which gives dividend not only to me but team members as well as India to boast about. Previously, the record was 7000 something. We doubled it with our efforts and teamwork.
What role do the ambience of the dining place and occasion hold while developing a menu?
Chef Jagdeep:- Ambience plays a very important role. First, it gives an impression of the place. Half the battle is about the right kind of ambience. It needs to be there for the diners. It’s the mood of the people linking towards what is the next thing that is coming, what is the food, platter etc. It helps us out as a Chef if the right kind of ambience is there. It helps the guests also to decide, he is in the right place. It is a win-win situation if the ambience and food complement each other.
Seven Seas Hotel has private dining areas so do you develop a special menu for private dining areas?
Chef Jagdeep:- I always believe that a private dining experience is a closed affair which not only caters to the specific demand of the host but it also gives an opportunity to the guests to touch the heart and soul of the diners for presenting the food as a visual experience which not only delights the individual taste buds but also touches the soul of the diners. We make a gastronomic life long experience to relish for. It is an experience which most chefs will let go.
When we design an accurate menu for private dining, we do a thorough discussion with the host and due diligence is given on the occasion. We pay attention to what kind of invitees will be there and the time of the day. Lunch, dinner, breakfast, whatever it is and the seasonal availability whatever it is, it is an experience or an opportunity which no chef will ever miss.
How important is it to take out food costing and what are the key aspects that should be considered while doing food costing?
Chef Jagdeep:-Everybody talks about what food cost is. I don’t talk about food costing. I would say the proper utilisation of ingredients that you have taken to the optimum level. The wastage should not be there. It automatically takes care of itself. If the optimization of the food is done well, you don’t have to worry about food costing.
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