The most important position in a hotel after the General Manager of the hotel is the Chèf, believes Chef Dane Fernandes


Hotel St. Regis Hotel Mumbai is well known for dining so how do you and your team make sure to come up with exciting menus and how much research and time is taken to develop appropriate menus for the respective restaurant?

Chef Dane Fernandes: The St. Regis Mumbai has a young brigade of Chefs all very eager to innovate and keep up with the pace, with a lot of new concepts and ingredients to match the ever-growing popularity of the food scene in the country. Every venue we house in the hotel has immense talent to come up with new ideas and us as a team brainstorm and come up with ideas by taking inspiration from different social media channels, top food trends for that year to curate volatile menus because change is inevitable and we must be able to serve food that’s trending and also appreciated by the locals of your vicinity.

What is the speciality of ‘The Best Address’ at St. Regis? You work with a team of approx. 138 persons so what is your team management mantra that you practice at St. Regis Hotel?

Chef Dane Fernandes: Over the years, The St. Regis Mumbai has been a breeding ground for young emerging Chefs to take on bigger responsibilities for Marriott International. Our mantra has always been to emerge as the best culinary destination for the city and also to create leaders who further create more.

How was the experience of heading the banquets at Make in India Event, 2016? How do you balance your excitement and nervousness both in handling huge events as such?

Chef Dane Fernandes: Being a part of one of the most iconic brands in the industry and arguably the best hotel in India, I am extremely blessed to have trained under culinary giants like Hemant Oberoi, who encouraged the talent and only sharpened our skills to succeed in this ever-growing industry.
The experience was breathtaking from curating menus to execution, everything had a huge role to play in the making of the biggest outdoor events Mumbai has ever hosted. Though it wasn’t easy to cook and finish dishes on open ground, I would say it opened a new side of the way you look at operations from what you do indoors to what you must do when you’re catering outdoors.

Which dish of your culinary list has been most appreciated in your profession? Which ingredient is your ‘must add’ one that you try not to make it left out?

Chef Dane Fernandes: I cannot think of a particular dish that makes me or defines me, but I would say that every Chef in the country must know his native cuisine and the most overwhelming part of my journey is when I realised the importance of knowing your food before you can explore others.
One ingredient that’s in my must add is eggs, again it’s just my choice of an ingredient but I don’t think I can do without eggs.

How different was the experience of working in the catering team at the World Economic Forum with that of the Commonwealth Games? How are the cuisines decided in such kinds of events?

Chef Dane Fernandes: The World Economic Forum was where we showcased our cuisine to represent the country, whereas the Common Wealth Games was catering to athletes from different origins and had various cuisines attached to it, also many dietary restrictions as well cause we were feeding the athletes.
World Economic Forum was an extremely challenging but a fun environment where we were basically in -20 degrees cooking food for the Indian contingent where ingredients and equipment were flown down to have the feel of our countries cuisine.
The Common Wealth Games were one of the largest events to have been a part of my culinary journey and I must say, there were many stakeholders involved to make this mammoth operation into a huge success.

As you are also both a football player and lover, so do you focus more on experimenting with healthy food? How important it is to maintain a diet for a footballer? Tell us about this as a chef.

Chef Dane Fernandes: I’m a football lover and follow it a lot – my favourite team being Chelsea, we do work on a lot of health food but it’s not due to my love for football but it’s just that the new age millennials are more inclined to food that is healthy and have made it as a part of their day to day lives, you see more and more millennials emerging as vegan or either on keto or just off carbs, we as professionals have a section in most of our menus that support this new age cuisine.

As you also deal with the training and hiring of culinary associates as a part of your work, so what is that quality or skill that you would want the aspiring chefs of the future to have in them?

Chef Dane Fernandes: I do take this aspect of my job very seriously as this determines the growth of yourself and the company as a whole, one of most important skill of leadership is to create more leaders and it is by far the most difficult one.
When we look at raw talent to emerge into our ranks and make it large I look at the hunger and the passion for the art of food, everything else comes with it, and it’s not that hard to find passionate people – it’s the way we groom them to become better professionals is what matters in the end.

Guests always look for something unique and engaging in hotels as such things add to their experience? As a chef what experience does the kitchen add for the guest staying at Hotel St. Regis Hotel Mumbai?

Chef Dane Fernandes: In my opinion, the most important position in a hotel after the General Manager of the hotel is the Chèf, the most common thing that a traveller looks at when he decides whether the hotel is worthy to reside or not is the food that comes with it. We at the St. Regis Mumbai curate experiences for our guest where we aspire to create a journey of food that stays with the guest even when they are away. It may be having curated cooking sessions to hosting private events, we maximise our connect with the guest to ensure we stitch all ends up perfectly.