His desserts make his struggle sweeter

His desserts make his struggle sweeter

Who would believe that an innocent desire to have a computer could lead a teenager into the culinary world? “I was in class 10 when I made this demand to my parents. When they said ‘no’, I took up a job at a nearby restaurant to earn and buy one myself,” says chef Sanjeev Kashyap.

Recently, awarded the first prize in the confectionery competition (for Tricolour Cake and petit fours) at the ‘5th Young Chef’s Challenge 2015’, Kashyap’s story isn’t an ordinary one. This could be sensed when the news of a 21-year-old junior executive winning the challenge reached Metrolife.

“I was good at drawing since childhood but never thought I would grow up to use this creative skill as a chef,” shares Kashyap chatting with Metrolife and insisting on tasting a chocolate pastry at Eatopia at India Habitat Centre. A bite of the sweet and the confessions by this shy lad from Uttam Nagar become endearing.

“For three years – from class 10 to 12, I helped my father at his milk dairy during early mornings, then went to school and later, worked part-time at Jumghut Restaurant in the evening. During the first year, I was assigned the duty to deliver food at doorstep, after which the owner entrusted me with the job of a cashier.”

A faint smile appears on his face as he continues, “Ironically, the way to the cash counter crossed through the kitchen and I became familiar with chopping. I even learnt
how to bake rotis in the tandoor. Since non-vegetarian was never allowed inside
my home, it was bit shocking to see meat being minced in front of my eyes!”

“When I completed schooling, my parents were bent on me joining Delhi Police but I rebelled and enrolled in an animation course,” he says, informing about the influence of the popular trend on his psyche and lack of correct guidance. Within three months, he realised he wasn’t made for animation and diverted his efforts to the kitchen at Indian Hotel Academy where
he completed his one-year diploma.

“My parents thought hotels are just about dhabas on the highways and were against my decision. Although I joined the hospitality institute I was still not sure what was I supposed to do.” His batchmates were aware of continental cuisine and thus were happy to learn about the same but Kashyap found himself a little lost in this continental world. “Till now, I had only boasted in school about my knowledge at making ghee and paneer thanks to my father’s business. Continental was alien to me!”

The life-changing moment occurred when he saw chef Anand Singh Rathore (from Old World Hospitality) making confectionery in his college and assisted him in a competition. “The chef made Togarashi (a sweet-chilli cake) by using fire and I decided then and there, I have to learn ‘baking’,” he says enamoured by the marvel.

While pursuing his six-month training at Old World Hospitality, Kashyap insisted on working in the bakery, and soon learnt the ropes. Remembering his first day of training, he shares, “When the chef asked me to bring ingredients for date and walnut pie, I got a date in one hand and an apple in another!”

Two years later, he is proficient in baking every confectionery inside the same kitchen. But what is essential for him, is to add his touch to each recipe. “In confectionery, you see the dish and eat it through eyes first. This aesthetic-appeal of the genre attracted me to it. So each time I am given a recipe, I try and do something unusual with it.”

From preparing Barbie doll cake for his niece to baking cakes for friends and their relatives, he is now happy and aiming high. “Of course, I want to be a pastry chef! In fact, now not just my parents but even siblings insist me to study further and offer to fund my education. Let’s see which institute I’m destined for,” he says, sharing his plans to buy an oven for his home.

“I have to because my friends emotionally blackmail me to bake cakes for their birthdays if I wish to continue friendship with them,”
he smiles.

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