Destiny brings people to the most inevitable of places, and when they find peace at it, we are reminded of how clever fate is in our lives. Today we present you such a story of a spirited chef, who’s responsible for the beautiful food festivals of JW Marriott, every month.
“What I enjoy most at JW Marriott is my daily engagement with other chefs who share the same passion for food like me. I constantly find myself tasting and sampling and experimenting with different things in the kitchen which I thoroughly enjoy,” he says. Below are the excerpts of our pep talk with Chef Mayur Tiwari, Executive Chef. JW Marriott Pune.
1) How do you describe your style of cooking?
My cooking style is simple, authentic and ensuring that the dish is flavorsome. Our tradition has a lot of enriching flavors and keeping those Indian culinary cultures alive is our prior objective.
I also keep experimenting with different things, so to make sure the customers keep coming back for fresher, tastier dishes.
2) How do you keep the kitchen running in chaotic situations? How do you calm everyone around you?
Often, the kitchen has a chaotic situation on busy days, when the crowd is more and the orders are varied. It is very important to handle these situations with a lot of perseverance. I ensure proper delegation of work to the time in these situations and at the same time I get involved in the action myself rather than just supervising. A good practice is to get your hands dirty with the team, rather than just ordering.
3) What was your inspiration getting into this profession?
I had always been very passionate about cooking since my younger days. I remember cooking new and interesting recipes for my friends and relatives during summer vacations and other holidays. The words of appreciation and praises from my friends were the biggest driving force for me to excel in the field of culinary.
And there’s a story of how I arrived here. I was actually wanting to join the Merchant Navy. But my destiny brought me here, so I believe in making the best use of this wonderful opportunity.
4) What is your signature dish?
Aaloo Methi and Bhindi. There can be a lot of international and oriental cuisines which one can state but refining the simple, glorious recipes made in our homes daily is what I excel in. I used to love Aaloo Methi and Bhindi Ki Subzi. I thought, why not make these recipes official!
I also enjoy making a grilled salmon which tastes awesome when served with grilled vegetables.
5) Is there one secret ingredient or spice you love to cook with?
Coriander is my favourite ingredient. It adds a lot of fresh flavor and color to any dish. Its a pleasantly sweet spice with a lemony top note. I basically use it in curry and chili dishes.
6) What is the most interesting or fun experience you’ve had while in restaurants?
It is always a lot of fun to work on new concepts and to introduce them.
The recently curated “Culinary & Bar Art” fest at the hotel as a great culinary experience for the team. The whole team got together and laid down a very successful culinary fest for the guests and it was great fun.
There was another recently concluded food festival called “Maharashtra on a Platter”. Special Kolhapuri non-vegetarian delicacies were offered at the Spice Kitchen and the pure vegetarian Maharashtrian thali was served at Shakahari. I also served specialty drinks like Sol Kadi, Masala Tak, Kokum Sherbat.
7) One cuisine you would love to experiment with?
Mexican cuisine! Its a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, especially Spanish. And I love the way corns and bell peppers are used to create aroma and taste in so many dishes.
8) Name any other chef who inspired you at the start. And who is your best food critic?
Chef Ajmal Salim and Chef Pallav Singh. Chef Ajmal has years of experience behind him, and inspires many-a persons. Besides, he is also great in cooking up lovely pastries and chocolate dishes. The same goes for Chef Pallav. He is pretty spirited and knows how to cook up visitors’ happiness.
9) Favorite places to eat when you’re not at the J.W. Marriot?
I love gorging onto the delicacies of Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai. It has awesome Iftaar recipes. If you’re around at that time, you’ve got to relish those dishes.
10) Who did you experiment your initial recipes on?
As a kid, during my summer vacations, I would spend time in the kitchen cooking for my relatives and friends. I believe specializing in Indian cuisine first paves a good path to learn and master other cuisines.
11) Where do you go when you need to escape for a breather?
I love to take a break and visit Matheran whenever I get some time. I love the scenic beauty and weather of this small hill station away from the hustle bustle of the city life. Plus, Matheran is devoid of air pollution and dust and traffic, so it helps refresh you and the peaceful break recharges you.
12) Any advice you would give to budding chefs?
I would like to advise the budding chefs to be as authentic as possible in their cooking and don’t lose out on the original texture and flavour of the dish in the name of experimentation.
If you hold on to the authentic flavors, these will stay with you for a lifetime, and in today’s scenario of diminishing culinary traditions, one has to keep up with authentic food traditions of the country.
After having a worthy chat with the Executive Chef, we move on, to another story, unearthing the lives and culinary traditions of these wonderful Chefs of India.