UAE is a hub of global gastronomy: Chef Dhaval Dedhia
The pastry chef talks about his culinary journey and shares a yummy dessert recipe.
Always the one to help his mother in the kitchen, Dhaval Dedhia’s passion for cooking kickstarted at a young age. Wanting to join a ‘hands-on’ profession, Dhaval learned the basics of cooking from his mother and started making his own creations.
Born in Mumbai, Dhaval got his B.A. in Culinary Arts from the University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom. Dhaval then returned to India to work under great chefs at Leela Palace, Hotels and Resorts.
Today, at 33, Dhaval resides in the UAE as a pastry chef for Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah, Ajman where years of his rigorous training and culinary skills are being put to good use.
In a conversation with City Times, Dhaval tells us about his journey, both positives and negatives, and how the UAE, as a major global tourist destination, makes his profession more challenging or easier.
How were you inspired to become a professional pastry chef?
As part of initial years of training, we have to go through all departments and then finally specialise in one. The pastry section is the most creative and innovative section and has no limits to your creativity. That inspired me to work in the pastry section and after years of learning, I became a professional pastry chef.
What is it like mixing your passion and your profession together?
When you do your job just for the sake of doing it, yes, you achieve results. But, when you do it with passion, you not only achieve the best possible results but also enjoy the entire journey or experience of doing that job. And, that is satisfaction. So, I believe if you aren’t passionate about whatever you are doing, don’t do it!
How do you handle yourself in a professional kitchen, which is often a busy and stressful environment, especially when things go awry?
Yes! Handling heat in a kitchen environment is never easy and certainly challenging. Firstly, it depends on an individual’s temperament. In my case, I am highly patient and have a good ability to handle pressure. So, it comes automatically, and moreover, chefs are naturally trained in that atmosphere to handle pressure and situation in the best way possible.
What if a customer gives a negative review of your dish? How do you handle that at the resort?
Food is very personal! Something that I love may be hated by someone else. This is why it is obvious that we have a mix of likes and dislikes.
When we plan our menus it’s in a way that flavours are combined in such a way that they are generally liked by most.
However, when we have negative feedback about a dish, we take it very seriously. We look into the feedback, try and understand the root cause of the problem and act accordingly. We place great emphasis on training and corrective actions for any wrongdoings. So, the chances of mistakes are the least. Strong processes are there to monitor the same and make sure we have positive feedback.
How would you describe the experience of working with other chefs in the same kitchen?
As I said, it is very much about an individual person’s temperament that helps a person to deal with things at the resort. Each person working in the kitchen is different, as are their ambitions, likes, dislikes, and priorities.
It is amazing to work with such a different mix of talented chefs as everyone has their own specialty and uniqueness. Personally, I love the human factor as it’s always a surprise for us.
Today, the UAE is, of course, a major global tourist destination. How has that positioning helped you in your profession? Does catering to the global diner make your profession more challenging or easier?
UAE is certainly a hub in terms of global gastronomy today. Many of the best countries in the world don’t have the diversities and gastronomical offerings that UAE does.
Because of its geographical positioning and its ambitions of becoming the best tourist destination, the UAE has opened up to the world.
For us, that means we get access to the best ingredients from around the world. We get to learn from some of the best chefs in the world. Tools and equipment are available with the latest technology.
It really is a blessing in disguise for our profession. In a way, the UAE spoils us like no other country ever will.
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
Khidri Date Paste – 72 gm
Water - 72 gm
Baking Soda - 2 gm
Butter - 34 gm
Caster Sugar - 60 gm
Whole Eggs - 40 gm
Flour - 75 gm
Baking Powder - 1 gm
Cooking Cream 35% fat - 400 gm
Brown Sugar - 200gm
Unsalted Butter - 100gm
Cream the butter and sugar in a planetary mixer, until sugar has melted.
Boil the date paste, water and baking soda together, let it cool once boiled.
Add the eggs to the sugar and the butter mix. Let it mix along.
Add the date mix to above mixture and mix all together on a slow speed.
Add the flour and baking powder to the above mix and fold it properly.
Line a tray with desired baking mould and bake the mixture at 180ºc for 20-25 minutes depending on the mould.
Once baked let the cake cool and then it can be cut accordingly.
Boil all ingredients together for the sauce and emulsify with a hand blender.
Pour the sauce over the date cake, and serve along with vanilla ice cream
Chef’s Tip: Sourcing the right date paste is the key to a good date cake.