He is known to create perfect cuisine out of visitor’s fantasies. He is the executive sous chef, The Hiatus, New Delhi, Chef Ravinder Singh. It’s not often that the Chef comes to one’s table to enquire about one’s appetite.
As a famous critic had once opined, “Chef Ravinder’s enthusiasm for fine food was evident by his keenness to customize my dining experience. His hands moved about, gesturing the shapes of the recipes he was describing.”
It was an honor conversing with the Chef, heading the kitchen of The Hiatus; known for embracing challenges and progressive style of cooking. The progressive style of cooking seeks to make a dish not only visually stunning and sublimely delicious, but also to evoke emotions and change the diner’s perspective.
How do you describe your style of cooking?
“I am progressive, with modern cooking styles. It began as a way to push the boundaries of traditional cooking, and new culinary advances have allowed me to ameliorate the dining experience. It is very important to please the visitor’s expectations, thus adopting new cooking styles is necessary for the progression of culinary arts,” he says, with a dash of energy.
How do you keep a restaurant running in chaotic situations? How do you calm everyone around you?
“Making sure everyone is doing their part well is the utmost importance. And I always try to set examples myself rather than delegating every job to my team of talented chefs.”
He also added with confidence, “My team is ready to whip up whatever you can think up – and make it beautiful and taste-worthy.”
Seeing his exuberance, we shoot the next question. “How long have you been cooking professionally? How did you start?”
“I began as a trainee chef in 2001 and became An Executive chef in 2014. The years were short but the journey was a long one which included learning-practicing… learning, experimenting, re-learning-implementing the knowledge in various stages and thanks to all my senior colleagues, my chef, and my teams the journey was fruitful and overwhelming. Though hard work, determination and self-belief are the three most important assets which helped me wade the tides and waves of this challenging, oceanic industry.” Enthusiastic, earnest Ravinder at best.
What is your signature dish?
“A signature dish is defined by how much the visitor or a foodie likes it, so I’ve a lot of noteworthy dishes. Lots of them, I am sharing one which is a signature dish. Air bread with mini cottage”
Then we ask a question which has been asked to all Chefs through the ages! “Is there one secret ingredient or spice you love to cook with?”
To this he says, “My secret ingredient is cardamom, aromatic spice indigenous to south India and Sri Lanka, in a classical mixed with fusion style to cook it”
Ravinder’s kitchen serves only fresh, bright, clean, perfect specimens. Your nose would’ve a great time. The spices and aromas gyrate towards a splendid carnival of flavors.
We ask him about any memorable experience(s) he had in his career.
“A strange or a delightful experience I faced was to create a world street food menu asked from my HOD’s to make sure our guest had a totally new experience. The dishes I used ranged from cuisines of Asia/Europe/Mediterranean regions and so on.”
Then he fires back, “there are a lot of memories you can treasure from a phase. My life has just started!”
One cuisine you would love to experiment with?
“Asian cuisine is still untouched at various level so I would prefer to take it to the next level of crafting it with more food from the base, traditional roots of it. There are so many unknown dishes in the countries, you’ll be amazed at the variety Asia offers in terms of different cuisines and flavors”
“Everybody has a role model to look up to, so who’s that person for you?” we ask him. “Also, is there a food critic you’ve always feared?”
He chuckles at first. Chefs who have inspired me are Chef Gordon Ramsay (one of the widest known and finest chefs of the world) and Chef Hemant Oberoi (he crafted legendary dishes in the Taj, Mumbai for over four decades), best food critic as per me will be Mr Vir Sangvi.
Who did you experiment your initial recipes on?
“I try it myself at first. And then I let my team taste the recipes. If they give a thumbs up, then its well and good for me!” Probably this confidence on his team has led to a gamut of aspiring chefs following him, wherever he works.
Then we ask him, “Does he enjoy being in any place other than the kitchen?”
“I never leave my kitchen,” he says. “When free, I enjoy cooking at my home with traditional Uttarakhand village food.”
Then we ask him one last question, before he gets ready to start the fire. “Any advice you would give to budding chefs?”
“Advice to all will be keeping focus & emphasis on the things what you love to do. A small phrase to all of my upcoming generation will be, think from your heart & use your brain to achieve the same.”
Sparkling with exuberance all around, the Chef left to his favorite instruments, the fire and the pan!