Jasbeer Dawar – Executive Chef Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
Jasbeer Dawar – Executive Chef Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. Read here.
You are holding a university degree from Delhi University and a Hotel Management degree. Why did you become a chef?
After finishing university, I decided to do a specialist diploma in hospitality management as I was passionate about the industry. It was something that excited me and I was very much interested in learning more about the hotel industry. Once I graduated then I started working as a chef, I knew this was the career I was meant to be in.
At the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal5 you stared as a Sous chef, where you work today as the Executive chef. A career path you worked on to become a Executive Chef?
I started my culinary journey back in Delhi, India as a trainee at the Maurya Sheraton & Nikko Metropolitan hotels. Coming over from India and then reaching the top of my profession here is a very heartening experience for me and my family.
Starting from there to now as Executive Chef of Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 at a relatively young age has been a long and rewarding journey. I learned a lot from each stage of my career, be it as a CDP at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Marlow – my first job here to Sofitel Heathrow Hotel T5. I put in extraordinary long hours with a single minded devotion to excelling in the culinary industry. Through all this, I followed my dedicated work ethic, professionalism and keen love for food as my guiding principles.
The Hilton London Heathrow T5 is a famous airport hotel. What makes it for an executive chef so special to work at an airport hotel?
Being an Executive Chef of an Airport hotel, I have to work with different parts of the business and teams across the hotel to offer the best customer experience when a guest checks in, or comes to dine at our hotel.
My role is focussed on running, managing and planning the main activities around the food served at the restaurants, and at the banquets at Hilton T5. That means managing a team of around 25 chefs, and enabling them to do their best on a daily basis. At the Hilton T5, a 350 bedroom hotel, I look after the main (one Rosette) Gallery restaurant, River Bar, the Musetti coffee shop, 24hr. room service and corporate events and overlook the Mr Todiwala’ Kitchen, staff rostering, hiring, and training is part of my role.
The job means a lot of thinking on your feet, making swift decisions and being aware of even the minutest details in the kitchen. I am responsible for designing the menus – be it for different promotions, charity events. I have to source our supplies, manage our suppliers and food deliveries. Budgeting, costing and forecasting is a key part of my job, where we have to keep a close eye on our food costs and at the same time, offer good value and culinary experience to our customers. I am also part of the wider hotel management team and that involves its own responsibilities, trying to support new recruits, building up our staff and developing the team.
For instance, I was the judge for the Exercise Joint Caterer event for 2016-2017 – the annual flagship event for Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force Chefs and Caterers.
Do your quests have different expectations on the menu, compared to London down town?
A little bit as we are an airport hotel and have to cater to a variety of customers. So, the menu needs to reflect that in terms of diversity and range of meal options. However, the ethics and the culinary skill required is at the same level of intensity and creativity. We source the best possible produce and try to do it justice in our menu designs and preparation.
How would you describe your culinary line as executive chef today?
My food is modern with a focus on British produce and traditions. I love working with all seasonal ingredients, as they are packed with flavour and make me want to experiment. For example, I am enjoying designing dishes with heritage beetroot, sea buckthorn berries, Wester Ross salmon and Dingley Dell pork (welfare friendly pork). I pay a lot of respect to the original classical way of cooking, like the French.
All year round, I design and present different theme-based menus to put my own stamp on our food. For the Chinese New Year theme menu, I paired Luzhou Laojiao Zisha Dachu (a Chinese liqueur), Monkey 47 gin with salmon, Chinkiang vinegar, seaweed dust, lobster and sweet chilli savarin.
I designed a Red Velvet Tonka Ben panna cotta, white chocolate and raspberry spoon, with a rose petal ice-cream which is my signature dish. That dish was also featured in the 50th anniversary edition of Craft’s Guild of Chefs book.
The Gallery restaurant at the hotel features premium meats like the Dingley Dell pork Creedy Carver duck, Creedy Carver chicken and Norfolk quail (supplied by Direct Meats). We serve The Buccleuch beef, which bears a royal warrant to the Queen. Wester Ross salmon is hand-reared fish, harvested in accordance with RSPCA freedom foods.
If there would be a chance for you to own restaurant, where would it be and with which specialisation?
Of course it would be a dream come true. I would love to run a restaurant in London that will be small but deliver excellent quality of modern British food that leaves a mark on the culinary capital. I think food makes a big difference, especially as most of us lead such busy, hectic lives. At the end of a hard day at work, a good meal can bring a smile to everyone’s lips and help us relax.
Food has the power to not just feed our bodies and soul, but can leave us with lasting and special memories. I would like to do that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
Hopefully, realising a few of my dreams, either at leading hotels or who knows, maybe on my own! Recently, I have won a few accolades that have made me dream even bigger and makes me feel very humbled and grateful.
I was awarded the Hilton CEO Light and Warmth Award for 2017. I was one of the 12 winners worldwide who are awarded for exceptional service and for showcasing true professional spirit endorsed by Hilton globally.
However, there are bigger frontiers to surmount still. I am currently very excited about my business venture ‘CHEFI’. I am promoting artisan handcrafted, leather knife rolls for those of us in the industry or even those who are big foodies/cooks out there. Recently, under my business banner, I sponsored the Young Pastry Chef of the Year 2018, the David Lyell Scholarship and the Young MasterChef of the Year, in association with MasterChef of Great Britain. I also supported the 5th Zest QuestAsia 2018 – the student’s chefs competition launched by Chef Cyrus Todiwala.
My business is aimed at chefs and the hotel industry and I hope to make it even bigger and diversify this brand in the next few years.
Thank you very much, Jasbeer!