Chef you have been accoladed as the most creative young chef of India, pls tell us about your passion for food and its driving force?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Well, creativity is something which comes to you naturally, your not born with it.. You either have it or you don’t. No one can teach you to be creative. So was the case with me, I always loved doing creative stuff with all my plating’s and offerings. Serving food with a twist of taste and flavor keeping its authenticity intact is what I always focus on. I won this award at a very tender age when my creativity was at its peak. For me, creativity is an integral part of my chefs life. In todays world fi your not creative enough, you might just miss the bus to success. Passion is an attribute of any top chef. Again, this is a quality which comes from within. I believe passion and determination seasoned with hard work and dedication are the mantras of my successful journey so far.
Chef You along with your team launched the first vegan friendly bar in Goa. Pls tell us about it?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Me and my team gave Goa its very first Vegan bar in the form of Amalia, a beautiful 50 cover lobby lounge bar which strictly caters to only vegan food and drinks. I realized the need for vegan food was ever increasing and there was no great vegan bar in Goa which did both vegan food and drinks together. Having the expertise of vegan food, I along with my General Manager- Mr. Vishal Khosla decided to give Goa its first authentic Vegan experience through AMALIA. Surprisingly, within 3 months, we were awarded as Goas best Vegan concept dining outlet by the food bloggers and critics association of India for the kind of response we got. Today, apart from the beautiful location and property Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia boasts of, its also known for its Vegan offerings such as the Vegan Melon Tuna, Vegan dehydrated vegetables and dips, Vegan bagel sandwiches and the Buddha bowls etc.
What is sustainable ccoking and your insights on the same?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Sustainable cooking and zero trans fat cooking are the need of the hour. It means food has to be prepared in such a way that it benefits one’s health, environment and, ultimately, the whole planet. Whether it’s cooking green or reducing food waste, everyone can take steps toward having a sustainable kitchen and planet. Following best practices would help you in achieving the same: Use zero trans fat in cooking, Grow your own vegetable/fruit garden, do not use forbidden spices of fish such as Eel, shark fin, grouper, ray etc to maintain ecological balance, Shop Locally, Buy more local and organic ingredients from farmers, Eat More Plants, Eat Less Meat, Eat Seasonally, Reduce Food Waste and control portion sizes, Eat less processed and packaged foods etc.
PLs tell us about your responsibilities as an executive chef at Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia resort?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Well, I would love to keep this simple and straight. I head a team of around 65 chefs and 20 kitchen stewards. My primary responsibility as a kitchen head is to ensure every guest who walks into any of my 4 restaurants has an experience of his life and returns again. I am also closely involved in the marketing and strategic planning initiatives of the hotel along with training executions and institutionalizing brand standards and best practices. I am a chef who believes in spending more time with his guests than in the kitchen. Anticipating guests needs and exceeding their expectations is what I focus on.
Chef tell us what is a proper dish or a proper plate for you?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Something which doesn’t necessarily look good aesthetically but also equally tastes good. It should have the right balance of flavors, textures, colors and be served at a right temperature. Every dish must have a hero ingredient and every hero ingredient must be well complimented with accompaniments.
Goa is the tourist hub of India and as you know culinary tourism is rising. Pls tell us what role a chef plays in culinary tourism of a nation
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- A chef indirectly plays a major role in deciding whether a particular tourist would visit the particular country again or not. A lot of tourist judge the place by the food being offered there. Infact, most tourist are foodies and travel in search of great food and recipes. Food is the last thing one would wish to not go wrong whilst visiting a new place or country. Serving the right customers, the right selection of food is imperative as a chef and hence its very essential to have both both international and local knowledge of cuisines, flavors and recipes to keep all your inbound guest happy ensuring they return back again.
The lost recipes and ingredients of India are gaining their importance back. Chef pls tell us why do you think these ingredients lost their importance in the first place?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- There will be more reasons than many to this. Can be for various reasons like the non availability of a particular ingredient, lack of knowledge of using the particular ingredient, the ingredient going out of fashion/non trending or even it might so happen that another better substitute has been discovered for that particular ingredient making it go extinct for a certain amount of time. Every ingredient has its own unique phase where its used abundantly until you suddenly realize it has vanished out of the shelves in the supermarkets for reasons such as non manufacturing too.
What according to you does it take to become a successful chef?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- It takes many unsuccessful years to become a successful chef. In this industry, success doesn’t come instantly, you have to be patient, passionate and hard working. You have to sacrifice a lot including your family time and maintaining work life balance is of essence. Travel, explore, experiment and marketing yourself are the latest 4 favorite mantras of mine I suggest to be successful, in this digital and social media powered world.
What advise would you give to a young culinary student?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Build a strong foundation with your basics, explore places, eat at different places/cuisines, read and browse to stay updated and connected with the latest trends. Invest in latest tools and equipment’s that would help you grow and innovate as a chef. Be creative and innovative always and finally never ever give up. If I could become an Executive chef after 12 years of starting as a dish washer, anything is possible. Most important, LOVE WHAT YOU DO!
What instruments/ equipment’s/ devices you cannot imagine working without?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- A sharp knife and a tasting spoon- my companion in the kitchen.
Your favorite ingredient?
Chef Jerson Fernandes:- Mushrooms- easy to handle yet delicate, easy to use yet expensive, packed with flavors yet easy to cook and also very nutritious.
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