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‘Sustainability is a reason to prosper’ states Chef Nishant Choubey

25/02/2020

Sir, you are the Corporate chef of Senian Group. Please tell us how do you ensure that best practices are implemented in the company and commercial growth are achieved?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- It’s been an absolute delight to be part of the Seinan group which is based out of Tokyo . Tokyo market is versatile and have guests from all over the world. With Olympics 2020 coming up the entire country is on its toes as they are expecting about a million people to visit. We have a standard operating procedure in place which is updated on a regular basis. The audits happen every fortnightly and it’s mandatory to score the best. Customer service, especially during the busy season crucial to the success of any establishment. Our SOPS have clear mentions on the best practice :

1. We focus on guest interaction and greetings –Japanese guests like a particular narrative or welcome style. We train our team to ensure the same 

2. Staff motivation –we sincerely work to ensure staff is happy. A happy staff translates into happy guests.

3. Know your guests – we run a programme wherein we encourage our internal customers to know our guests and their preferences.

4. Exceed guests satisfaction – we add the element of surprise for guests to celebrate their special occasions. This is a WOW experience for the guests 

5. Address guests request instantly – in the current scenario where gluten or sugar is something that the guests want to refrain, we address it without hesitation.

6. Learn from the mistakes – we are human beings and we do believe that mistakes might happen and we take it positively and learn from it 

Our company is led by group president and founder Mr S.J.B. Sandhar(Raji), who believes in loyalty, credibility and value. Customer satisfaction is a key for any business and we strive to achieve it, full heart and soul. In terms of our commercial growth, we plan it well in advance. We are part of NAMASTE INDIA, SAKURA AND TERRA APPAREL EXHIBITION which makes us flourish in different sectors.

The aspiring chefs of the industry need mentors like you. Since you focus largely on sustainability, please tell us how sustainability can be maintained as a chef and how zero wastage can be achieved?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- Sustainability is a reason to prosper. I call myself a sustainable chef. And believe that local is exotic or local is global. It’s important for us to realize the importance of sustainability and move ahead. the concept of sustainability is already trending and I come across many international chefs who are claiming to boast sustainable practice in their kitchens. Let’s work with our local farmers and respect the potential that they have, why do we only say farm to plate, I think the plate should also go to the farm. In India, there are sustainable markets where one can go and buy the ingredients at will. In my menus, I write the farmers name to make the guests realize that the crop has come from the nearby farm which is far more healthy to what they get from the cold store. Tasting India symposium is making people aware of the concept of sustainability. In the same time, the costs are in place too once we use local ingredients. For me, everything can be used and we don’t believe in throwing food or the offcuts. Let there be bin free kitchens. The peels, shells can be hundred per cent used, imagine orange powder from orange skin, beetroot garam masala from beetroot peel, banana skin chutney from banana skin, etc how satisfying it is. Like to name a few people who are doing so well in the groud of sustainability Achintya Anand (Kishi cress), vill food (Nitin Kumar), saanjh (Sarika) Sneh Yadav, Meenu nageshwaran, Pallavi (millets), Puneet jhangaria, saanjoo ..they all share the fresh produce or seasonal availability and we have a what’s app group where we buy from them. 

You are the consulting chef for Indus Bangkok which has received Michelin star in 2020. We congratulate you for the achievement. Please tell us about the hard work and dedication which it takes to bring a restaurant to this level? Also when we talk about consulting for a restaurant, what exactly is the research which a chef has to do to design a perfect menu?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- Indus Bangkok is a Michelin plated restaurant, it is been in plate for the last three years now. The food served is on the lines on Indus valley civilization. The research is very strong and I take full pride in associating with legendary Padamshree awardee Dr Pushpesh Pant to upgrade my knowledge. The restaurant is owned by Sid Sehgal who is a globe trotter and understands the dynamics of running a successful restaurant with wife Nuna Sehgal. I And Dr Pant curated historic pop up to educate the guests over there. The menu has dishes from Leh Ladakh, Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal and Lahore. 

Congratulations on being the Chef of the Year 2017 and being the Gold Medalist in Aahar. Sir, please tell us about your journey till here and the hardships which you faced in becoming the Chef of the Year?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- It’s not been easy as I went through many hardships. I do like to share that I never wanted to be a chef to start off, it happened by default. I always wanted to be an engineer but there is no regret now. Graduated from catering college in the year (IHMCTAN Bhopal) 1999, my first job was with the Taj group of hotels where I was employed as hotel operational trainee. Its been a great experience to understand the industry for the very first time. I was well trained by the chefs. Post that I moved to Trident /Rajvilas and joined Oberoi hotels on RL9 LEVEL and there I got free hands to showcase and I got several compliments and promoted to RL8 before I moved to my first international assignment,  Jumeirah Group (Dubai) and I worked there with speciality restaurants sagreto and pierchic, it was a fantastic experience to be trained under ex-pat chefs on international cuisine. Worked there for three years and then I decided to move back to India and got an opportunity to work at olive bar and kitchen as sous chef under the guidance of Chef Saby. I was involved in the opening of the olive beach, Ai and lap. I was promoted as Executive sous chef and then I got an offer from Bird Group to open the premier luxury hotel and I grabbed the deal and joined them. Opened Dusit Devarana which is known as the Roseate now and Roseate house . In between I managed to do a lot of food pops around the world and that gave me a lot of encouragement. I believe as a chef we should invest in travelling. Seeing is believing. I am fortunate to be involved in culinary pop-ups in Spain, Argentina, Tokyo, South Africa, Kenya and Montenegro. Hard work is the key but as a chef, we should always think positive and always have never say die attitude. Opportunities are there it’s just that we have to grab and encash upon. Like to thank my parents and family for standing with me always.

You have represented India in the United States by undergoing training at John Folse Culinary Institute. Chef, please tell us how was your experience there and what you learnt? Also, tell us about one thing which you would like to be implemented in culinary institutes in India?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- I am lucky enough to get a chance to go to  John Folse culinary institute at Thibodaux, Louisiana. It was an eye-opener to see the facilities at the college. I learnt Cajun and Creole cuisine over there. The sessions where well defined and the products were very fresh. The gumbos, the etouffee, the fried turkey the jambalaya .. reviving my memories. We are not lagging behind the international standards in terms of culinary studies. I believe we should go to the core of Indian cuisine and try to take students there and make them experience the lost culinary charm. If we are able to revive it then we will be a trendsetter. I think setting up a college won’t suffice it all.

You do TV Shows for Tata sky in association with FAMHEALTH. Chef, please tell us how different it is to cook on-screen and off-screen. What remedy is done if something goes wrong in cooking?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- I am doing a show at Famhealth in association with tata sky channel no 510 on how healthy food can be tasty as I find it’s a myth that healthy food can’t be tasty. For me, it doesn’t make any difference cooking online or offline. Of course, there are some times we need to obey the camera person for a better view of the dish. Mistakes do happen and retakes are there and we move on saying picture Abhi Baki hai mere dost, keep watching ….

Chef, please tell us about the Gourmet Summit which you attended in Singapore. What was the Summit about and about and how was your experience? How does it feel to be selected among the few chefs to attend such big summits?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- Singapore is the pilgrimage of cuisine and trend. The country has more than 44 Michelin star restaurants. The first time Michelin star awarded to hawker stall in Singapore. It’s the food city in the world. I happened to attend a session by chef Ferran Andria where he categorically stated that back to basics is the key while late chef Charlie Trotter taught has the plating art of franco Australian cuisine. Chef Thomas Kellar spoke about the hacks of the kitchen. I was there for one week and it was an outstanding experience. 

You have done successful Pop-ups in a lot of foreign places. Chef, how do you decide on the cuisine which you would prepare? Do you prefer the local cuisine of the place or present them with something Indian? How difficult is it to do live cooking for a lot of people?

Chef Nishant Choubey:- I am extremely happy and motivated to cook and show my repertoire internationally. Most of the time I cook Indian food but with a twist. I am an Indian face and it makes a lot of sense to cook Indian rather western. I ensure I go to the local market a day prior and to understand the production and use in Indian cuisine to ensure that the guests who come to dine find a connection. I am pro in terms of live cooking and I have no fear in doing it now yes initially I did have some hesitation but now I love it. My next live session is in Kuwait which is celebrating #2020. 

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