EXECUTIVE CHEF GAURAV CHAKRABORTY DISCUSSES HOW IMMUNITY BOOSTERS CAN HELP

 

Executive Chef Gaurav Chakraborty started his journey as a chef from the year 2000 after passing out from The Institute of Advanced Management Kolkata. He has worked in several five star kitchens all over the world with brands such as Accor, The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts, etc. Currently he is the Executive Chef of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort.
He strongly believes that learning a cuisine is never complete without knowing the people and the culture of a particular place. With this belief he has travelled all over the world to understand the people and their lifestyles. He has travelled across Europe, Parts of Asia, North Africa and east Africa, the Caribbean and has incorporated a bit of everything in the food he cooks.

 

You’ve been in the industry for quite some time. Would you have done anything differently when first starting out?

I personally feel that every chef has his own journey and everyone has made their share of mistakes and this is a part of the learning process. Hence, I would not really wish to do anything differently, instead I embrace all the obstacles and the challenges that have made me what I am today.

Hiring and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges in any industry, but most especially in hospitality. How do you speak to your staff about career growth and progression?

While the answer to that question might not be very comforting to contemplate, it is rather easy to arrive at: your best chefs will leave you anyway and at a time of their choosing, not yours. And there is not at thing you can do about it. It is going to happen and it is not going to happen on your timetable, that’s virtually guaranteed.

Most of the talents leave because they are not mentored well. I always speak to them about learning new things and not getting old in their minds. One important thing that should be done is to create a professional healthy work environment for these talents and develop a roadmap for their growth and career developments.

Eventually chefs will outgrow your kitchen but when you help them take control of what happens next in their careers you gain control of a situation that would otherwise be completely outside your awareness, much less your control. You must be mindful of your chefs; really you must know them as people and then get to know what their great motivators in life are. Moreover you generate a lot of goodwill and not just with the chef who is departing but also those who are staying behind because they have seen you help one of their colleagues, while delivering on your promises too.

 

What is your favourite dish to cook at home?

I am still to find one. I like change. Can you imagine how much I will lose if I have a favourite?

I have no favourite cuisine, no favourite food. I love everything from Indian Cuisine to all kinds of international food and we cook a lot of it at home when we have the time and availability.

 

What’s your favourite comfort food?

I love a good Burger/ Biryani/Pasta

 

Which foods do you recommend to increase immunity?

Any citrus fruits or vegetables like orange, lime or lemons, amla (gooseberry) is great for overall immunity.
Eating fermented vegetables improves the immunity of your gut. Having a spoon of virgin coconut oil, first thing in the morning is best both for your immune system and brain. If you consume overnight soaked fenugreek seeds and almonds it is good for your brain and bones. Turmeric with honey and lemon is also a great combination.

 

Which drinks can we consume while at home to increase immunity?

There are few easy drinks which you can consume as much as possible during the day which helps develop immunity and also keeps you hydrated;

a) A couple of glasses of lemon lassi without sugar .
b) Hot lemon and mint tea, again without sugar or honey (can be made with Darjeeling tea or green tea).
c) The simplest thing that people can do at home is to add a bark of cinnamon in a jug or a in a vessel where they store water.
d) If you are willing to work a little harder then making a spice drink with cinnamon, ginger, fresh turmeric and honey helps boost immunity.

 

Tell us about the concept of ‘farm to fork’ and how it helps to promote the idea of sustainability and good health. How do you think we can create awareness amongst more chefs and restaurants and hotels so that they contribute to this initiative?

Farm to fork concept is basically serving the food in the freshest form. The most successful restaurants across the world make their own butter, oil etc. If the farm is organic then it’s the best deal. It is sustainable in places where the population is in proportion to the farm produce in a country. Unfortunately for us we are still importing a lot of grains.

Another critical part is the proximity of farm to the restaurant. The supply chain management has to be really good. The restaurants should ideally make menus with availability from the farm. These are daily menus with limited quantities. There should be a focus on creating organic gardens on terraces or any open spaces to promote this concept. These concepts are more popular and achievable outside the periphery of large cities where more land is available.

 

For a long time India had more vegetarians as compared to those who ate non vegetarian food, do you think we are going back to the previous times where more people are now advocating vegetarianism? What is the reason for this change and how will it impact the food that we eat?

Absolutely, there is no doubt that we preached more vegetarianism compared to other countries in the world. Meat eating went up in last few decades due to affordability, availability and the knowledge of cuisine that people have gathered during their travels. We have never focused much on how to protect the food value and the nutrition in the food. Overcooking vegetables at home or restaurants is considered very normal. For example while cooking spinach we always overdo it during Indian cooking but it is a leaf which if you serve in a salad in raw form you reap the right benefits. So a more scientific approach is coming in the new form of vegetarianism in India. As Indians we were never a soup or a salad eating nation but now many people prefer that as a meal. Quinoa and chia seeds are becoming more of a common house hold pantry ingredient with most people in big cities. A more conscious and educated approach towards health is the reason for this change.

 

 

Recipe of Beetroot, Ginger and Jaggery Preserve

Beetroot, Ginger and Jaggery preserve is a healthy preserve that improves your immunity.
Beetroots help develop hemoglobin which helps to strengthen immunity, Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants which helps build immunity. Instead of sugar jaggery has been used in the recipe as it is rich in zinc and other minerals and helps fight against infection. Cloves help fight disease causing bacteria and lemon is rich in vitamin C which also helps build the immune system too.

Ingredients

• Grated Beetroot-2 medium size 400 gms
• Grated Ginger- 60 gms
• Oil -25 ml
• Jaggery- 100 gms
• Soaked Raisin -80 gms
• Clove powder- 1teaspoon
• Lemon Juice – 1

Method

• Heat Oil in a non-stick pan and add grated ginger.
• Add grated Beetroot and mix well.
• Add 200 to 250 ml water and cover the non-stick container and cook for about 25 minutes on low flame.
• Once the beets are soft add, jaggery, and soaked raisins.
• Cook on low flame till the mixture starts to caramelize a little.
• Finish with lemon juice and clove powder

by Jyoti Balani