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From Far-flung villages to the Royal Kitchens, Dr.Chef Saurabh knows all the culinary secrets of Rajasthan.

23/05/2020

Congratulations for new responsibility as the Editor of the Editorial team of ‘Global Insights of hospitality, tourism, Heritage and culture’. In India what measures should be taken in the field of Hospitality researches to elevate the quality of the research?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: First of all, thank you so much for your appreciation. Being a part of the reputed editorial board is my first step towards giving it back to society. It is a way to refine the ongoing research practices. In India, Hospitality is still a young field of research. Our country has always had a mindset for engineers and doctors doing research. But now the scenario is changing. There are many fields in Hospitality that are yet to be explored or research upon. So in order to motivate the young researchers, we will have to increase the resources. More and more digital libraries should be made available with open access. Also, financial aid is very much required which will help the researchers to practically explore and expand their boundaries of learning thus elevating the quality of research.

Recently you have completed the introductory course of Sustainability Education for culinary professionals. Kudos to you. What was the main objective of the course and how chefs can be the key player of the sustainable future?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: Sustainability is not a course or a topic, it is the future of humanity. Since our natural resources are declining day by day, one should now move towards sustainability. Sustainability is the ability to exist constantly. It means to avoid the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. As a chef, I know the power of a white jacket and it is through kitchen only that we will be able to have a sustainable future. Chef fraternity nowadays is emphasizing on zero wastage of any raw material or cooked food. If we chefs can create a sustainable kitchen and pass it on to home cooks then, of course, the tables are going to turn in the favour of humanity.

Amity University is among the top private universities of the nation, what are the unique teaching techniques which are implied to equip Hotel management students with the maximum exposure of the industry?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: Amity University is a world-class university. Our university is a research-driven university. To do research it is important to have an in-depth knowledge of what you are doing. So our curriculum is designed in such a way that there is a 70-30 ratio of practical and theoretical knowledge. There are not only well designed and equipped labs but also there is an incubation centre that works for the students’ benefits. It empowers the students to explore more. Our students are also sent to different hotels for live demo classes to bridge the gap between text knowledge and actual exposure. Students also work on different live projects e.g. running their bakery shop in the university campus etc.

In the present era, every state has carved out its cultural niche, what opportunities hospitality scholars have right now through which they can be the pioneer of the new era of the regional cuisines and tourism?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: Different states are indeed trying to convert culture into tourism by promoting their heritage. There are a lot of opportunities for the scholar to be the pioneer of the new era of the regional cuisines and tourism starting right from their own homes. Nowadays India is moving back to its roots that are associated with our kitchen through our grannies and mothers. One must try and understand their cultural heritage thoroughly and work for its revival.

Your expertise is in Mediterranean cuisine, what is the back science of Mediterranean cuisines which makes it authentic and exceptional?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: I have had an interest in the Mediterranean dishes from the very start of my career. I wanted to know more about its history and how it is prepared. Mediterranean cuisine is the foods and methods of preparation by people of the Mediterranean Basin region. Key ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine include olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, fish and whole grains with moderate amounts of wine and red meat. Mediterranean cuisine is defined by the presence of fundamental elements which are said to play a more important role than others, reflecting a community of beliefs and practices which transcend religions, languages and even societies. The olive tree is the emblematic tree in the Mediterranean region so olive oil is the main ingredient for every dish. Mediterranean food is incredibly popular: pasta, pizza, sausage, wine, gyros, kebab, and falafel can be found just about everywhere.

You are well known within the industry for writing elite and exceptional pieces on the food and hospitality forte. Please share a few insights from any of your ongoing writings?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: I have always believed in giving back to society. People have always considered Engineers and Doctors as professionals who can do something for the society. But very few of us are aware that food has always had a direct impact on our lifestyle. So my writings are my findings. The more I realize practically, I always try to share with everyone via my articles. This is my way of making people know more about food practices and how it impacts our lives. As I said earlier there is a lot of power in fire and it will be through our kitchen only that we will take our first steps towards a sustainable future. Currently, I am in the middle of publishing my first book based on my research on the lost recipes and cultural heritage of Rajasthan. The main focus of this book is on how reviving our lost food culture is going to have a brilliant impact on the socio-economic status of a state. It also has my own researched and collected lost recipes of Rajasthan from far-flung villages to the royal kitchen.

In the present trend of fusion cuisine, how important is it to know the historical facts of any cuisine before infusing it for the innovation?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: This is one of the most important questions one should focus on. Whenever I get a chance to speak with an audience which includes budding chefs, I always try to make them understand the importance of knowing the basics of food science. We have always heard of people saying that cooking is an art. But the truth is that cooking becomes art only after one is aware and familiar with the science of cooking. It should be a perfect blend of different spices none of which dominates the other. So it is very important to know the historical and scientific importance of all the ingredients that are being used. On the other hand, to become a good chef it is important to experiment. This experimentation or fusion is possible only if you know about the basic dishes that are being fused. So yes I also enjoy fusion cuisine that holds on to its roots.

On January 25, 2018, a successful attempt was made by you to produce the largest and heaviest vegetable lasagne on the campus of AHIMAS/Jaipur/Rajasthan together with five cooks and 150 students of AHIMAS, which is registered in INDIA BOOK OF RECORDS. How the ideas of curating largest and heaviest vegetable lasagne struck you and please share your experience of the same.

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: It was more of a challenge than an idea. I am the kind of person who loves to set up challenges for myself. I am a firm believer in self-inspiration. The successful attempt of making the largest and heaviest lasagne was a result of that only. I was trying to do something like this from quite long but all the things couldn’t line up in one go. Sometimes it was lack of resources and sometimes it was lack of manpower. But with the support of AIHMAS management, I was able to achieve my target successfully. It was a dream come true. The feeling for me is still unexplainable.

How should chefs strategize their content to promote regional heritage and cuisine through their writings?

Dr.Chef Saurabh Sharma: Again it is a matter of one’s love and perseverance for regional cuisines. It also needs a lot of research before implementation. To promote regional cuisine chefs will have to come out of their kitchen and do some background study, visit the villages, talk to the people. In this event taking guidance from the hotel, academicians can also be very fruitful since they are the ones doing research and learning constantly. Only after being able to recognize the regional heritage and cuisine will they be able to make strategies to promote it.

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