"The biggest reason that I got attached to food was my father being a farmer" - Anil Kaswer; Chef De Cuisine, Hilton Waldorf Astoria, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
How did it all start? Share your culinary journey with us
From a very young age, I was a foodie, hanging around my mom and grandma in the kitchen just to get something to taste whatever it is. Gradually it turned into my routine and I started helping them like to grind chutney in Sil batta or as a security of their papad, sevian which used to dry under sunlight. They taught me to make tea, nimbu ki shikanjvi at the beginning. I was so happy just because I don’t have to wait for someone to make nimbu shikanjvi in summers as I knew it now. This way made me more close to food but still, there wasn’t anything decided to go ahead. Another biggest reason that I got attached to food as my father is a farmer. My uncle encouraged me to join Hotel Management in Panipat for specialty diploma in culinary. I was the first boy in my village that has chosen this field.
For initial training in May 2006, I joined Fortune select global Gurgaon (ITC group of hotels), 6 months later, got selected as a job trainee at the same hotel. It was a great learning session for a year and a half for me under well-experienced chefs of ITC, who were experts in Indian cuisine. Moved with Crowne Plaza Today Gurgaon in the Indian section, spent around five years under many chefs and took a lead from the front, accepts challenge time to time. I have got much recognition and promoted to Demi Chef De Partie.
Egypt was calling for a new chapter, joined Sunrise Diamond Beach Resorts (SSH) as an Assistant Indian Chef, successfully re-opening an Indian cuisine restaurant named ‘Kandahar’, Did soft opening of another Indian fine dining restaurant ‘Masala’ at the sister property. Got appreciation letter by Corporate Chef and got promoted as Indian Sous Chef.
Another move in the Maldives at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Beach Spa &; Resort (Ex. Hilton Property) as Chef De Cuisine, Luxurious and biggest resort with 221 Villas and 11 F&B outlets. Opened an Indian Restaurant ‘Taste Of India’, spent a couple of years in a piece of paradise.
This time, a country which has an almost same culture like India, Thailand (Bangkok), beckoned me for a new challenge as an Executive Chef at ‘Indus’ standalone Indian Restaurant, the competition was tough in terms to make a 10 years old established traditional restaurant into Modern Indian way. It took time but we made it happen with the young culinary brigade in there.
At present, I am working with the Hilton Waldorf Astoria in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Successfully opened Indian fine dining Restaurant ‘Ginger Leaf’ previous year. Ranking No.1 restaurant overall on TripAdvisor Jeddah.
What are your earliest memories of the kitchens you worked in
The initial period of course, when you spent your whole day just to peel onions and when you go to take permission from your chef to go home, politely a bag of garlic was handed over to peel off and then go.
A dish your patrons/guest love
Dum Gosht Biryani, most selling dish in my restaurant with amazing feedbacks.
A dish that you love but do not have on your menu.
Masala Dosa, All time favorite.
What according to you does it take to become a successful chef?
A successful chef’s life, involves dedication, commitment, creativity, passion, hard work. I believe success can differ from chef to chef as it all depends on the individual according to their goals. For a chef, it is a daily commitment to yourself when you do get ready and tie your apron before entering in the kitchen that you need to cook & serve from your heart with a genuine smile.
Taking guest feedbacks and react positively. All your negative feedbacks or criticism gives you another chance to improve on.
What advice would you give to a young culinary student?
I would say, don’t use shortcut, learn properly, patiently and forget your watches at home from the day your training begins. Remember someone is always there to observe you so keep working patiently, next is your turn. Learning never ends.
What instruments/ equipment/devices you cannot imagine working without?
Grinder (dry; wet usage), I really love making fine powders, puree, paste.
Your favorite ingredient is…
Green cardamom is an amazing spice for Indian kitchen which does not only start your meal but gives you a perfect end too.
Name chefs you find amazing or chefs work you admire
Chef Gaggan Anand, Chef Vikas Khanna, Chef Vineet Bhatia, Chef Ranveer Brar
What books should every chef read?
Tandoor, the Great Indian Barbeque (Ranjit Rai)
Prashad, Cooking With Indian Masters (J.Inder Singh Kalra and Pradeep Das Gupta)
A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey
Roti & Naans of India by Purobi Babbar
Kebabs, Chutneys & Breads by Davinder Kumar