Don't we all love the aroma and taste of good food, especially on various happy occasions and also on a daily basis? Let's face it, good food makes one happy. Even those who are on a diet and weight loss programmes have various options of having tasty low calorie and low carbs food. Chef Abhijeet Thakre executive chef at The Taj City Centre mixes and matches his dishes in a unique way.
Talking about his favourite cuisine he says,“I would definitely say Italian. I would not only consider it as my area of expertise but I have to say I really enjoy cooking Italian. Also I constantly endeavour to innovate and experiment with ingredients and create something unique and cuisine is no bar in that scenario.”
He feels in today's age, patrons are more open to experimenting and are responsive to new and inventive cuisine. Guests are well-travelled and have a wide global exposure as far as experiences in dining are concerned. There is higher awareness and rising curiosity to explore and try something new and different, he says.
Be it returning to organic, farm-sourced ingredients, going back to the local flavours, location based availability of produce, vegan food options, meals that are more than just meals and more like experiences is the call of the day, he feels.
The upcoming trends, he says, include a rise of vegetarianism, plant and herbs-based mocktails, heightened awareness in terms of eating healthy and following diets like vegan, keto and low carbohydrates. Local cuisine has found centre stage that gives a true sense and flavour of the place. “There is also a rising focus on comfort food. Guests give prime importance to nostalgia and long for dishes that remind them of a fond memory,” he expresses.
He always dreamt of many things but chose to be a chef. “I wanted to be a pilot, a sailor or an actor in my childhood. The moment of revelation came when I began emulating my mother's recipes and getting influenced by the likes of Chef Martin Yan and Chef Keith Floyd. And my journey as a chef sailed through,” he recalls.
For him food is an indulgence. As he explains, “There is no set signature dish as I have always enjoyed interpreting classical dishes in my own style. If I really need to pick a few, then the dishes would be: Duck with honey and coriander sauce, Goat cheese flan with ratatouille and Mille-feuille with cinnamon cream, nuts and honey,” he quotes.
This chef has always loved cooking and his mother and her cooking have been his sole inspiration to be who he is today. “Right from my training years to the illustrious experience I gained being associated with the Taj Group, to working with some of the country's most renowned chefs and culinary experts, has been my greatest inspiration,” he reveals.
Describing his journey till now he says, “It's been over 18 years, I have been associated with the industry as a professional chef in major kitchens across the country. My journey with IHCL started in 2005 from Taj, Chandigarh where I was designated as Junior Sous Chef after completing my management training. Thereafter, I gained expertise by working with many other hotels in key market. My last stint was at the iconic Taj Palace, New Delhi where I had the privilege of manoeuvring some of the signature dining experiences for national and international guests. And today, I head the culinary operations at Taj City Centre Gurugram that is home to the legendary Thai Pavilion and other culinary treasures including Culina 44, Tease - bar and lounge and the popular La Patisserie.”
People, language, culinary ethos are so deeply connected that it takes great zeal for one to design new dishes and he enjoys this part of his profession.
“I get to come up with fresh concepts to treat my guests with,” he says.
For vegetarians and for people who like to eat healthy, he opines,“The list is long. For people who prefer healthier options, it's best I understand the guest's expectation and the diet to then customise the dish accordingly.”