'A chef cooks to satisfy his creative hunger'

l From the kitchen

Unlike previous generation, the globetrotting Indian is interested in experimenting and doesn’t want to restrict his dining experience to the comfort food. This is the reason why Arzooman Irani, executive chef, Vivanta by Taj, Gurgaon, feels it is an exciting time for chefs to don their creative hat and stay ahead in this competitive, yet growing industry.

“Today’s customer is willing to experiment and try new flavours and ingredients which is very motivating for a chef. One becomes a chef not only to cook but to satisfy his/her thirst for creativity and innovation. Today, guests definitely possess the capacity to allow and trust a chef’s judgment,” Irani tells Metrolife.

Irani has been in the food business for over two decades and was recently appointed as executive chef of the hotel. His association with the Taj group goes back to 2005 and he feels this decade old journey has only cemented over the years.  Elaborating on his role,he says, it would be more of supervising the kitchen and ensuring the quality of the food is maintained.

“Not all chefs have the same duties in a kitchen. Executive chefs or chefs de cuisine are considered the leaders in the kitchen. They oversee menu creation, determine recipes, handle budgeting, order supplies, hire and train, and supervise day-to-day activities for the entire kitchen,” he says.

“In order to be an excellent executive chef one needs to be a better communicator with the team and guest. Without this, you cannot come anywhere near exceeding guest expectations or attempting to win on customer service,” he adds. Sharing an anecdote with Metrolife Irani recollects how once as an executive chef at one of the Taj properties in Bengaluru he was given the charge to prepare 25,000 meals in 24 hours for a pre-launch event. “We also had to set up kiosks with refreshments from time to time, a media lounge as well as a VIP lounge along with meals for all. I would say that the success of that event made each one of us stronger and better professionals.”

Irani was drawn into food by his grandmother. As a child he was intrigued by the way she cooked every day with such perfection and without using any definite system of measurement or reference record. “Gradually I started by doing bit by bit in our domestic kitchen. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes messy,” he says.

According to him “classics or basis” will never go out of style. So budding chefs should update themselves about latest trends and advises them to “cook with their heart and follow their instincts”.

“The basic difference between a cook and a chef is that a cook will cook to satisfy a bodily need – hunger. But a chef cooks to satisfy his creative hunger,” he says.

Irani admits that the hospitality industry has transformed ever since he entered in this profession. And the one of the biggest gents of change, according to him, is the giant rise of social media. “The world is going digital, hence it’s important for all businesses to have a strong online presence. This is even more significant for hotels, where customers have many options and may not know the area.”

“Moreover, digital promotional campaigns can measure a hotel’s success quantitatively and these digital communication channels become key tools used for continuous brand management all key tools for the success and growth of a hotel,” he says.

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