Abhishek Kukreti – Executive Chef at Marriott International
Abhishek Kukreti presenting Indian Cuisine. He is a executive chef at Marriott International. Read here more.Why did you decide to become a chef?
I I always wanted to be come a officer in Indian army. But fate has some different plans for me. I joined a culinary school and was introduced to the world of culinary. There I discovered my passion for cooking and went along my way to become a Chef.
How is the chef school system today and in the past in India?
In past there were very few colleges and most Chefs used to do interns and then get a Commis position in kitchen. Nowadays there are several colleges offering one year to 03 year courses in hotel management. Also there are management training programmes in which once selected you start from a Jr Sous position. To get selected you have to really work very hard and be excellent in theory and practical both.
Lots of European chefs are interested in the Indian kitchen: are there any English specking cooking school they can join?
Major of the culinary schools in India are english speaking. The European chefs can enroll themselves for a dedicated course in Indian kitchen or can do a intern in any of the hotels in India in Indian section – fine dining or catering.
How is the team work in Indian kitchens, compared to other countries where you worked?
Any where you go , anywhere you work , the only goal for a Chef is to create a mesmerising dining experience. For that team work is one of the most important factors. For me I had been part of or headed best teams. Its same everywhere , India or overseas. The only difference is that you get to know a lot about other cultures when you work with a multinational team.
You worked some time in Dubai: what did you cook; international or traditional Indian food?
Working in Dubai was initial period of my journey as a Chef. I should say that I had worked with best Chefs around the globe and had been trained majorly in International cuisine or world cuisine. French , Belgian , Italian , Emirati are to name a few. Also worked in all formats of dining – Catering , Fine dine , casual dine , Out door catering etc
You spend some time as a gallery chef in Miami. What was your first impression of the American kitchen; what was new for you and what did you learn, which is still useful for your todays work?
I was onboard Carnival Liberty which used to have around 3000 guests onboard. Fortunate to work under Chef Sanjay Dhall and Chef Karan for Wine and Cheese – a unique event.The main galley used to serve Breakfast , lunch and dinner – All preplated. It was a great learning in terms of management , planning , ordering and time keeping. CTX machine was a new thing introduced to me by American kitchen. It is just wonderful. know the time and temperature , put the tray in and get perfectly cooked food from the other side. Also I would say that one of the finest ingredients I had seen is in USA apart from Dubai. Be it Idaho potatoes , Maple valley duck or prime porterhouse or T bones. As a Chef I always say – I learn something new everyday and I use it at times somewhere or the other.
Later you worked at the “Lemon Tree Farms” as Executive chef. Working in such Indian Holiday Resort, how are the dished different from those in Indians big city hotels? Did you have more time/ room for creativity here?
Tarudhan valley – A lemon tree hotel was a unique experience by itself. Though the buffets are more or less same like big city hotels , the niche comes when you say you are 100 % organic. I use to grow my own vegetables and the vendors would provide very good quality meat. Fishes were cultured inhouse. Spices were from the local villages. The Mewati cuisine was catch of the menu as you have to sit on floor and food is served in earthen pots prepared live over wood fire. You have your own advantages when you have acres of land as part of the hotel to do your own farming.
You have been promoted to as Executive chef at the Raddison Blue hotel in India. How is this work; does it become much more manager work interest of cooking?
Whatever designation I get promoted to , I am a Chef and that is my identity. A pan , burner and a knife will always define me best always. Though with rise in designations you get more responsibilities , but I ensure that I go to every kitchen daily and do some Mis en Place or toss up few orders.
The Indian kitchen has a long tradition: how did the kitchen changed in the last years, have been modernised?
Yes, over years there is a lot of modernisation in equipments, layout and design.
Fusion kitchen: with which other kitchen (countries) could the Indian kitchen be combined to create new flavours/ dishes?
It has already been established. Few examples are Chef Vikas Khanna , Chef Vineet Bhatia , Chef Gaggan Anand , Chef Atul Kocchar. These Chefs have been awarded Michelin stars as they had redefined the Indian cuisine what globe calls as Modern Indian cuisine or Evolved Indian cuisine. They have created menus with different cooking styles using Indian ingredients or Indian cooking style with different ingredients.
Ingrediencies: The origin of vegetables, meet… becomes more and more important at good restaurants over the world. How did the food supply has changed in that sense in Indai over the last years?
Indian kitchens are going more local and organic. Yes there is a lot of import for good quality meats , herbs , spices etc.
Is there any big new trend among the Indian kitchen/ chef scene?
Indian cuisine / Chefs as I mentioned before have created a mark globally. Major credit goes to Chef Vineet , Chef Vikas , Chef Atul and Chef Gaggan. The world has a very different opinion about Indian Chefs and kitchens as they continue to bag more and more Michelin stars and rank the world top list of restaurants.
If you would open your own restaurant; where would it be and with which specialisation?
It would be away from the hustle bustle of the city where driving to the restaurant itself will be a experience. I would put all my years travel and experience to create a menu which will reflect my learning experience around the globe.