In conversation with Restaurant India, Chef Ashvini Kumar, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton, Navi Mumbai talks about his interests for food.
Chef Ashivini Kumar has more than 18+ years of work experience in the hospitality industry and has vast knowledge of kitchen operations. Working with different hotels in India and Dubai, he represents Four Points by Sheraton Vashi as an Executive chef. With a passion to learn, teach, lead and enable opportunities to create Indian and International recipes with Innovation, he is always proactive in trying new cuisines. Here are some of the excerpts from interview:
What according to you is the latest trend followed by the Indian food industry?
The latest trend that is followed by the Indian Food Industry is the sudden rise in the number of Lacto vegetarian Diet, Vegan Diet, Low Carb Diet and some people are even turning to Organic and Gluten-free diets. This is happening because of the stressful, hectic and unhealthy eating life.
The Indian cuisine has various flavours, textures and ingredients. People know that an ingredient such as salt can do wonders to a dish, but an overdose could play spoilsport. New generation chefs take inspiration from different cuisines that have simple ingredients and create a dish which is measured for its taste, texture and presentation.
We see that eating habits of people is getting influenced by western culture. What is the reason?
According to me, people are not influenced by the eating habits of the Western culture, but by the Western Fast Food which is becoming very popular amongst youngsters. For eg, fast foods such as Pan Pizza, Thin Crust Pizza Joints, Burger Joints, Fried Chicken Joints etc are gaining popularity.
But not only is Western Fast food gaining popularity, even other cuisines like regional cuisines of India, Indian Cuisine, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Pan Asian cuisines are equally popular.
According to you what particular thing is highly promoted in India?
Indians don’t have just one thing in particular to promote, they have several things to promote such as Dal Makhani, Dal Tadka, Palak Paneer, Paneer Makhani, Tandoori Naan, Kulcha.
Chat, Verities of Dosa’s, Chicken Tikka, Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Home style Chicken Curry, Mutton RoganJosh, Dal Makhani, Dal Tadka, Chole Masala, Noodles, Fried Rice, Chilli Chicken, Different Forms of Pastas, Indian Sweets like Rasmalai, Gulab Jamoon, Kulfi etc.
How do you prepare a festival menu as compared to a daily menu?
To prepare a festival menu we first have to do a proper market survey & menu engineering. Then we look for various popular dishes from across different cities and then decide on the preparation time, think of colours to be incorporated in it, the textures it will show, various other things that will accompany it and lastly it should be accepted by locals.
What is the unique strategy that you follow while playing with your flavours?
I believe in keeping the menu simple and also make sure that the food is balanced, healthy, and delicious.
Being a chef, which is your favourite restaurant in India and why?
With so many restaurants in India, it’s very difficult to pick one as my favourite. I am still looking for one though.
Tell us about your future plans and innovations.
My future plans are to be a food service employer and educator for young Future Chefs. I also want to write a book on regional recipes from around the world.
Chef Innovations:-In the near future I want to execute innovative catering ideas. (Eg Molecular Gastronomy, ideas on edible utensils, etc). I also want to come up with innovative display ideas by presenting food that is otherwise simple, in exotic ways. Add spice options in food themes like peppercorn, bhutjolokia, habanero etc, or a repeating ingredients throughout all meals from Salad, to Soup, to Mains and lastly to Dessert.
Creating interactive food displays is a great way to make the food counter more exciting & fun for the guest. And I also wish to partner with a known chef who implements great ideas and good recipes.
What is your duty as a chef at Sheraton?
My duty as a Chef at Sheraton is to actively participate in interactions & feedback with the hotel guests. Manage kitchen chefs and supervise and coordinate all culinary related activities, training and developing culinary colleagues, food consumption and requisition. Menu engineering, developing recipes, ensuring consistent quality, establish presentation technique and quality standards, ensuring proper equipment operation/maintenance and lastly ensuring proper safety and sanitation in the kitchen.
I am also responsible to overlook that the Employee Dining Room includes cleanliness, operation and food production. The food safety within the hotel has to be kept up to date and information and training has to be given to all the staff handling food regularly.