#Chefsaschiefs: Balancing plates and expectations

July 4, 2024 | By Anurima Das

The old saying “too many hands spoil the broth” doesn’t apply in the culinary world. Chefs are required to be master multitaskers, skillfully balancing an array of tasks each day. Their roles extend beyond mere cooking – they oversee the entire kitchen operations, ensure business remains profitable and maintain the highest quality standards. At the same time, they must focus on crafting delicious, innovative dishes that align perfectly with consumer preferences. This intricate balancing act involves managing a team, keeping an eye on food costs and continuously adapting to new culinary trends, making every service a complex yet rewarding endeavour.

“Cooking is diverse, and cultures influence the style and techniques. But in the food service domain, chefs with their global exposure and knack for certain cultures and cuisines bring to the front specialised recipes and menus. All of them have a diverse and unique approach to culinary innovation and their customer-facing personalities only get a revival the moment they begin to lead the business from their kitchens,” observed Diane Fermin, Dubai Ambassador and CEO/Founder of Get T.H.I.S Done AgriFood consulting, FoodHack.

“Differentiation begins to happen when you actually deep dive into varied aspects. There are over 2000 Kerala restaurants in Dubai, so when I had the plan to come up with my own restaurant it was easy to just become one among the rest. But I pondered to understand what will help me differentiate and that’s when I went more regional and began to work out a niche with Cochin and seafood. This gave it a signature and helped bring an authentic flavour,” shared Chef Avinash Mohan, Chef & Managing Director, Cochin Harbour Restaurant Dubai.

“For a chef who is on the one hand leading a team or restaurant and on the other looking at creating an exciting menu for the customers, research is key to creating innovative recipes to bring them back to the restaurant. But to gain loyalty, we must be abreast with the grassroots happenings. Traveling to get culturally knowledgeable, and finding the science and the history behind ingredients and local cuisines is very important,” added Nicholas Cuadrado, Culinary Director – F&B, Bateel International.

“When you are a chef and at the same time you are leading the business of your own restaurant, then humility must be at the centre of all your decisions. You cannot let your ego overshadow you. There will be good days and bad, good and bad feedback, all you need to do is let the work and humility rule, and the cuisine win,” Chef JP Anglo, Founder and Owner, Kooya opined.

“Functionality of food, consuming the right fruits and vegetables and understanding their efficacies help in building a balanced diet. Our roles as chefs begin with inspiring farmers to grow their produce organically and in a healthy way and then it is all about sourcing the ingredients to create a menu that has an impact. So, we need to go back to our ancestors and see why they chose certain ingredients and how these ingredients benefitted us and make it suited to contemporary lives,” said Independent Chef Anahita Gustaspi.

“When leading a team within the food service industry, a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work. We all need to work to balance, and this will only happen when we include sustainable practices and also bring about a special reservation for inclusion. There will be people from multiple walks of life and cultures in a team, their approaches can be equally diverse but as a leader, we need to brainstorm all the time to identify the thread that binds all of us,” stated Ionel Catau, Chef, Atelier House Hospitality.

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