Chef Ajay Anand says that the reason he decided to invest more time in refining French cuisine is that he finds it as alluring as Indian cuisine.
Do you think a chef’s gender affects the food in any way? How do you think men’s cooking is different from that of a women’s?
I believe cooking is something that requires a lot of passion, effort, hard work, courage as well as determination. It is sheer determination of an individual that makes one a successful chef, it really doesn’t matter if you are male or female or the third gender.
It really does not play any role in determining the wonders that a chef can showcase on 10 inch diameter.
How did you land in this profession? Were there any gender-specific stereotypes that you had to face?
Women are as good as men and trust me as I already mentioned that gender does not play even a miniscule role when it comes to cooking skills. My love for food can be traced to my genes. I inherited it from my parents, especially my mother and grandmother. They are the ones who made delicious food every single day at home. I learned the basics of the kitchen from them and realised my love for food and ingredients. If I would have been bothered by the stereotypes in the society, I would not be marshalling an army of 150 fine chefs in my team, today. I always brushed them aside.
Tell us about your stint at learning French cuisine. Why did you only choose that as your field of specialisation? Why not Indian?
Indian cuisine is one of the finest cuisines in the world and that will always be my first choice. When I first entered the hotel industry, I found French cuisine as alluring as Indian. I decided to invest more time in French cuisine and was totally mesmerised with the fine play of basic ingredients. Respect for food takes the highest rank in my repertoire, be it from any cuisine.
How did you prepare the dishes to present at Pluck? What is your strategy?
I keep it very fundamental at Pluck. First, we work on the taste of the food and once we achieve the desired taste of any dish, we start playing with the edimentals at our disposal. The concept is very raw, it’s all about the freshness, cooking them à la minute (preparing quickly and serving immediately), ensuring the right balance of flavours, textures and colours before serving it for the guests.
What is your signature dish and how did you come up with the experiment?
Trilogy of Lamb is the one that I flaunt to the world. There is a lot of thought given to this dish; it’s an amalgamation of the three different cooking methods coming on one plate giving the dish most versatile flavours.
What is your take on Indian cuisine? When do you think it will become the world favourite?
Indian cuisine is one of the oldest and varied cuisines, influenced by travellers and rulers of India in the medieval era. From the Royal kitchen of Mughals, langars of Sikhism to the bhandaras of Hindus, it has all in it. This is the very first cuisine I was exposed to at my home and it is still as fascinating as it was hundreds of years ago. I believe it is still the world’s favourite.
In this age of food bloggers and reviewers, do you think it is an injustice to the chefs who prepare a dish that a dish is photographed and uploaded on social media even before it is tasted?
Yes, I do have a feeling that this injustice should be stopped as soon as possible as it is actually ruining the beautiful art of cooking food. Nowadays, it is getting more commercial. Bloggers and reviewers are the ones who actually influence the choice of food or restaurant for many people. So, if the job is not done on merits than it’s a complete waste of skills. Anything that gets posted on social media should be first tasted for its flavours and textures. Later, it should be posted on various forums.
What do you think could be the greatest cause of failure in a chef’s dish?
Lack of compassion and determination are the two greatest cause of failure in a chef’s dish. The food that is made without compassion will never come out beautiful. Further, if the chef is not determined towards making the food that he/she is offering to the guest taste sublime, it will one day lead to a failed dish being served to them which can be disastrous.
(The chef is the Director of Culinary at Pullman and Novotel, Aerocity.)
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer