A Chef flying the Indian flag high!
The Chef with a record in the Guinness Book of World Records by cooking at the base camp of the Mount Everest.
Chef Sanjay Thakur is currently an Inflight Chef at Etihad Airways, where he caters to the First Class Guests by offering them a globally inspired dining experience. He has his roots attached to the Himachal Pradesh, India and has an experience of 11 years in the culinary industry and during his travel; he has explored and excelled the unique food trends around the globe.
In the year 2014, he got selected from India to represent the country at the Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific which is one of the biggest titles in the culinary world and a dream for many passionate chefs. In 2015, he represented the Middle East and Etihad in San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 held at Cape Town where he finished as second best in the Middle East.2016 was an icing on the cake where he got selected for the second time to represent India in Bocuse d’Or which was a great achievement.
At Young Chef Conference in New Delhi by IFCA, he was honored to be part of live demonstrations with Chef Hirotoshi. Recently in February 2017 at the Hospitality Fest at AIMS Bangalore, he was awarded as an outstanding chef.
HospiBuz: How the idea of triyogani came into your mind and how much time it took to implement your idea?
Chef Sanjay Thakur:- This idea came into my mind after the Project Himalayan Soil which is available on the internet. We thought to go to the Everest part as it is also the part of the Himalayan region and Himalaya is in two region- India and Nepal, so it was a joint collaboration. To create awareness we had to do something outstanding, otherwise, people really didn’t care, so that’s why we took the highest altitude to create a buzz in the Hospitality Industry.
HospiBuz: What influenced you and made you so passionate about gastronomy? What or who is your source of inspiration that stood beside you and motivated you throughout?
Chef Sanjay Thakur:- My Dad is a Chef as well. He is my greatest influencer, so I learned cooking from him and he is the only one who influenced me in my life. And as far as cooking is concerned, cooking for such long hours of the Himachali Cuisine and teaching students at the Chandigarh University of Hotel Management so that’s where all the passion and influence came from.
HospiBuz: You have represented India as a participant at Bocuse d’Or contest which is also known as the Olympics of the culinary world. It’s a pride for anyone to make the nation’s presence felt global but what are things which come into the mind during those big competitions where nation’s name is also being carried with you.
Chef Sanjay Thakur:- It’s once or twice only that any Indian got selected into Bocuse D’Or and I am the only Indian to be nominated into it twice. I also won the Young Chef contest at Etihad, so all these platforms need a lot of awareness. So media plays the major role in creating the awareness in the whole world because many chefs don’t even know about what Bocuse d’Or. When you are in hospitality industry you should know about all the details of the culinary world from cutting, chopping to all the events and the awards.
HospiBuz: Presently you are an in-flight chef in Etihad, so what are the challenges which in-flight chefs used to face and what are the perks they get in comparison to chefs working in hotels?
Chef Sanjay Thakur:- Working in flight, is really challenging because you are at a very high altitude of 42000 ft. above the ground level, you have to manage all the guests requests. In-flight chefs are made for the elite guests with exceptionally high expectations. At times there are celebrities who need perfection in every little thing. They have their personal chef, personal butler, personal F&B manager and so the pressure is always there, due to very specific and particular requirements. You are serving the celebrities, high profile guests so this needs immense knowledge and it is not a cake walk.
And in terms of perks, you get to fly, meet celebrities and other elite class people; you get to maintain contacts with the celebrity guests. You are directly delivering an item to those guests who might take it to another level, and then you get to travel the world. You don’t need to work much, just 4-5 flights a month!
HospiBuz: You have worked at different venues on different events like Melbourne Cup, AFL league, Australian Open, International Cricket Tournaments and Caulfield Race Cup. In flight, you have to make for a limited number of people but in these types of events guest lists is quite long.
Chef Sanjay Thakur:- In all these places you have a premium market with exclusive guest list, so only a few people buy the dishes according to the prices, their preferences and requirements. Before going to Etihad I was in fine dining concept, over there we were dealing with a very limited number. Even if we talk about cricket matches, there are also boxes which are limited in number and those boxes are given to a limited number of guests to come and dine, so my team and I were dealing with the fine-dine concept for the last few years. We had a very limited clientele, where we had to deal with them in events or during matches.
Thank you so much for your prestigious time!!