Chef, you hold an experience of more than 9 years in the Food Industry. How exciting was the journey of cuisines? What dragged you into the culinary world?
Chef Ishijyot: It’s always said, ‘The way to man’s heart is through great food’. The ceaseless journey of my small dreams turned into reality by joining IHMA (Indian Hotel Management Ahmedabad). IHMA inspired me to become a chef, explored different foods of the world and for me, it seems to be like a never-ending pool of cuisines. I am just hooked on to further exploring with cuisines and there’s always something new to look forward to. Throughout my culinary expedition, I have learned that an edible as simple as a potato had more than 200 ways for it to be presented. Learning new cuisines fantasies me to experiment and experience food all more. Food always touches a person’s heart. My love for food dragged me to the culinary world and inclined me towards being a chef.
You have been a part of the reputed places like Taj Hotels. How has that helped you in giving a boom to your career and journey so far? Whom do you consider as your only inspiration?
Chef Ishijyot: My love and passion for cooking kept on growing, so from IMHA, I was able to enter the TAJ hotels, one of India’s Prestigious Hotels. Taj hotel built me from an aspirant cook to an ambitious chef. It trained me to be the best in every situation. It also taught me the value of time, to value your guest and a simple thumb rule that ‘Guest is always right’.
My only inspiration and God Father who is the real reason for what I have achieved and able to handle today is Chef Ananda Solomon. He was my mentor who guided me to face the real world and also the importance of being a hands-on chef as well as to lead from the front. Chef Ananda Solomon is the reason for me to be able to make my brands alive with thoughts and themes. The inspiration and learning from Chef gave me confidence which leads to the launch of Gourmet Treats as well as the launch of SJI Hospitality & Foods Pvt. Ltd.
Tell us about your culinary hubs and how did you decide the themes and concepts for those ventures?
Chef Ishijyot: Being inspired by Chef Ananda Solomon, I began researching on different cuisines of my interest and documented my thoughts, articles, and trends related to them. Also, all thanks to my father Surinderpal Singh Surri and my elder brother Jaasjyot Surri who are real pillars of strength for me. We all sat and went through the project reports and collectively finalized themes and concepts. Being from a family that has a business background, my father and my brother had a much better way to present my thoughts to the world. Our collective thoughts lead to the inception of our hospitality venture SJI Hospitality & Foods Pvt. Ltd.
Culinary hubs were introduced in the year 2018, starting from Mulk. Mulk– serving cuisines from the Northwest Frontier of India (A pre-partition) food story has been bringing alive the lost food of that era where eating was a culture in itself. As the name suggests our nation, our village, making us feel proud and very own to us.
Copper Parrot – as the name suggests is “tool to check the alcohol content in a spirit” as well as we dedicated the drinks that we serve there to the different birds that are found in the wildlife. We serve Asian food which complements the drinks.
Pachinco – A cafe of sorts “Pachinco” is inspired by a Japanese pinball game and we denote it by character Pachinco. A cafe that helps us live back our childhood memories along with nostalgia and aura. The cafe is a den for people who wish to relive childhood with cakes & patisserie, coffees, smoothies, Maggie’s, fries and puffs.
In 2019, we introduced Miniya Turk, Roti Republiic, and ABCD- Any Body Can Driink.
Miniya Turk is like a miniature of Turkey which serves 2 predominant cuisines accepted to the Turkish pallet that is the food from Turkey to Italy. The Mediterranean Sea is a common link between the countries and the cuisine.
Roti Republic it’s a restaurant that has been made to a theme wherein women empowerment and home-style cooking of food has been the motto. It’s a home away from home with rotis from different states of India as well as from different parts of the world being served. It is a concept of bread made with the help of a rolling pin.
ABCD is Any Body Can Driink which serves food across the globe and drinks that are classic as well as unique.
How do you prepare gourmet food at home? What are the specialities that you serve at ‘Gourmet Treats’? Which are your customers favourite?
Chef Ishijyot: Gourmet is food made with love and affection; it can be easily made at home with the procurement of the right ingredients. It’s food for eyes first before being consumed. The specialities that we serve at Gourmet Treats are Indian Masala blends like spice rubsa, variety of chicken pickles along with a wide variety of dry fruits as well as a few of our brands from Srilanka. Passion fruit-flavoured green tea and Dilli dal makhani masala and Punjabi chicken pickle are mostly preferred by our guests. Not to forget we have an assortment of flavours in dry fruits like BBQ almonds and cream and onion cashews which are our customer’s favourite.
What seems more enthusiastic for you, working as a chef or an entrepreneur? How did it come to your mind of giving a kickstart into business?
Chef Ishijyot: After working in the industry for years, my enthusiasm lies in being known as a chef, witnessing people enjoying and relishing my preparations brings an immense amount of happiness and satisfaction to me. I have a robust support system by my side that is my father and brother who have been with me in all walks of life and have been the driving force behind getting me to enter the hospitality industry. I kick-started by entering the FMCG segment as starters then got into the restaurant business.
Your venture named ‘Roti Republiic’ sounds extremely astonishing. Tell us about the concept that you serve and what makes it different from the other restaurants?
Chef Ishijyo: The Roti Republiic emerged as a concept based on the relevance of roti in the lives of every Indian household. Roti is found across the Indian Republic bearing different names in each part as Paratha in Punjab, Bhakri in Maharashtra, Bati in Rajasthan and so on. The roti’s & parathas vary in their style of cooking for every region of the Indian subcontinent.
This venture will remind you of Ghar Ki Roti. Another aspect that makes it different from other restaurants is the women-centric team that we have onboard, it is a way to depict women empowerment.
The restaurant will serve you the pre-plated meals where the guest selects the roti of his/ her choice and we serve it with respective accompaniments as per the region of the Roti.
It’s a concept, to provide food to the various people who come into the city of Mumbai to make a fortune, we try to lend them a glimpse of their home through our food, thus making them feel at home.
Share your love for the kitchen and food. What is that cuisine that you love to cook at home for your friends and family?
Chef Ishijyot: My love for food and kitchens runs through my Punjabi bloodline. Cooking is my biggest stress buster, as well as it helps me to get more imaginative with the dishes. The kitchen and food are space and activity I call my own. “A Punjabi at heart I love to cook Indian food for my family and friends. As far as family and friends are concerned, they make me cook Italian and Chinese for them.
What variety of beverages do you serve at ‘ABCD- Any Body Can Drink’? How do you mix up the food and beverages at ABCD? What is more, trending there and also in your favourite list?
Chef Ishijyot: ABCD – Any Body Can Driink has a range of signature cocktails like LIT’s and a variety of mocktails to make its vibe felt. It’s a restaurant where we have loads of colour inspired drinks. The food served is a mixed bag of cuisines where titbits are good and a drinking culture can be complemented with the food choices. There are alcohol-soaked and flamed dishes as well. A Redbull Stroganoff is a real energy booster and food sizzlers are showstoppers for the guest in the restaurant. “My personal favourite is an American non-veg platter with a mojito to cool my stressed day.
Do you want to bring a blend into the traditional ‘Ghar ka khana’ with that of the modern ingredients?
Chef Ishijyot: Profession but love being an entrepreneur who is a chef. Being into the business of Food & Beverage since 2010 with a launch of Gourmet Treats, starting with SJI Hospitality & Foods Pvt. Ltd. was taking the business one step ahead and then not looking back.
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