Things which are made from scratch taste better: Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania


HospiBuz:-What inspired you to enter the world of desserts?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:- My father was in the army so it was actually predicted I would follow his footsteps. However, being well aware of my keenness to work in a space that would give me the liberty to work on the periphery of science while allowing me to be highly creative, I concluded bakery/ patisserie to be a profession by choice.

Patisserie is indeed an exacting science with a large scope of innovation & creativity. I am glad I choose to be a pastry chef. It’s is both fun and rewarding!

HospiBuz:- Please tell us how are the bakery items coordinated in hotels? Are they prepared the night before or in the morning itself?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:- Without doubt, breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day and therefore it becomes imperative for Viennoiseries to be thoughtful health-wise & palate wise. If you would recall, the widest & most alluring an assortment of bakery offerings is generally on the morning breakfast tables. Nothing gets better than a freshly brewed coffee & fresh croissants. So it’s all about the freshness you see that makes the difference. Therefore a basic mise-en-place is definitely done during the late hours of the previous night but the baking/ finishing is done early morning.

To make it operationally viable, most hotel restaurants today are designed with fixed ovens inside the restaurants. It has a dual role to ensure the Viennoiseries that are baked are fresh & aromas tempts the palates.

And Yes! Every hotel has a special night shift team for making Viennoiseries which is headed by a head baker, who reports to the pastry chef for robust quality control & consistency.

HospiBuz:- Gluten-free, sugar-free, lactose-free and healthy confectionery concepts were known abroad way before India. What new trends and concepts do you see rising/coming in India?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:-  To be honest Indian hospitality has been more of a trendsetter than it has ever claimed to be. Early on in my career, while working for a resort in the Himalayas( one of the best ranked by (Conde Nast Traveler magazine), which was almost a decade & a halfback, we had a premium menu offering gluten-free, sugar –free, egg-free, natural /organic flavors infused dessert platter & adjacent bakery items.

Today social media defiantly has had its roll to reach out to people & in a way influencing their decision of even what to consume.
I expect old grandmother’s recipes making a big comeback with organic ingredients & rustic themes. But I cannot deny that there is a whole lot of emphasis on super quality ingredients & it’s sourcing to ensure the diners enjoy the best outcomes.

HospiBuz:- No matter where we are the essence of Indian food always remains in our hearts, please tell us one thing about India and Indian Hotel kitchens that you missed in Dubai?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:- Dubai as we know is the cradle of fusion world cuisines & patisseries are no exceptions to that. And like I said ingredients are sourced from all over the world, so no dearth at all.

However I feel that at times for the need of visual delight we overdo. Whereas in India “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, a feeling conveyed through our plating styles as well.

HospiBuz:- What is your take on the trend of Naked cakes and Glitter Cakes in the bakery industry?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:- Old recipes are making a major comeback, so naked cakes are a natural expectation. However the “Glitter cakes” are a stark variation to that & it speaks of opulence through its work. We got to take care of everyone’s needs I guess. Keep a keen lookout for these in the savory space as well. It helps make the food “a little more special”.

Pros of serving Naked cake is, you can show off the cake and filling, It can be served on a hot day & takes comparatively lesser time for preparation. Its old fashioned yet elementally rich.

On the other hand, Glitter cakes though are in trend but much more elaborate & synthetic. People try to avoid on account of being diet conscious. However, they can make good for theme presentations.

HospiBuz:- Chef, please tell us something about the training which you get in hotels?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:- Hotels now days have very structured programs for their resources. It can be viewed as a retention strategy as well. For food, nothing is a better teacher than creating, tasting & repeat.

Hotels send their staff resources on all paid trips to work in different regions, under expert personnel. They also ensure the resource is developed & marketed as a “brand”. Since there is no alternative to practice, chef’s read, develop, prepare & present it over several tasting sessions with external food critics & social media influencers actively providing feedback.

Training pertaining to HACCP, Food Allergen Management Training, and product knowledge are almost mandatory across hospitality.

HospiBuz:- Is cooking from hands, old school?

Chef Ashwani Kumar Pathania:- I am a “HANDS ON” chef who might be considered an old school. But the truth remains, that despite the endless range of ready to use ingredients/ material available in the market nowadays, I feel that the things which are made from scratch taste better. You get to control the quality of ingredients & are san artificial ingredients that extend their shelf life. Little imperfection is better than factory-made; it’s a human effort noteworthy after all.

I always tell my chefs to cook from the heart like they would for their loved ones.