"Always be a student, there is never a time when you are perfect" - Ankur Kumar; Executive Sous Chef, Centara Grand Maldives
How did it all start? Share your culinary journey with us
Actually, It started since my childhood, I always wanted to do something out of the box. During my school days, BTech in Engineering was best study option but it was out of my league. Eventually I joined I.H.M Hyderabad, which was ranked as n.o 3 Hotel school that year.
During collage days I was dedicated to learn as much as I can about cooking techniques. During those years I read Larousse Gastronomique many times. This was the time when I really grew my passion into cooking.
I started my career with Leonia Holistic destination, Hyderabad as a Management trainee, worked there for more than an year and then got Golden opportunity of my life to work with P&O cruise lines.
Since then there is no come back, I grew my passion in cooking and I believe this is what you required to be a successful chef, mere interest in cooking will not help, you need to be passionate about it
What are your earliest memories of the kitchens you worked in
One of the earliest memory is having a spoon full of wasabi paste and then running like a headless chicken. :)
A dish your patrons/guest love
I cook with the aim that guests love everything that I cook. Either it is Indian Butter chicken, Spanish Paella, French Bouillabaisse or a simple Italian pasta, I always make sure that guests love my food.
A dish that you love but do not have on your menu
Spicy Goat brain burgers
What according to you does it take to become a successful chef?
As I said earlier, mere interest in cooking will not help you in any way. You need to be passionate about your work. You need to make lot of personal sacrifices to be a successful chef. Either you fail or you succeed there is no place between that. Either you need to do the things perfectly or just don’t do it.
Secondly, as Gordon Ramsay said:- If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with a great chef.
What advice would you give to a young culinary student?
To a young culinary student, first thing I would say is “respect your seniors”, no matter how good or bad they are, you need to respect them all. The person you hate today may teach you lesson of your life time tomorrow. Always be a student, there is never a time when you are perfect, you need to keep on learning and evolving for rest of your life.
Finally, you can’t be a great chef without a great team with you.
What instruments/ equipment/devices you cannot imagine working without?
Knife, Non stick pan, Thermomix, Immersion circulator
Your favorite ingredient is...
Non-other than salt. This single ingredient defiantly holds strongest position in any kitchen. Salt has capability to make a dish a star or destroy the same. Just right amount of salt is most important ingredient of any dish.
Right amount of Salt and lots of love are most important ingredients of any dish.
Name chefs you find amazing or chefs work you admire
Chef Gaggan is my all-time favourite. I have dined at Gaggan, Bangkok few times and every time it seems like you are at a temple and being served by the culinary God himself.
Chef Ben Shewry, (Attica)- Best “next-door” restaurant in Melbourne
Chef Magnus Nilsson (Faviken) only 16 seats capacity, one of the best and most remotely located restaurant of world in Sweden.
What books should every chef read?
Under pressure by Thomas keller
The devil in the kitchen, Marco Pierre White
The professional chef, CIA