CHEF speak

CHEF speak

Indigo restaurant at the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi is celebrating its fifth anniversary with the ‘Kal, Aaj, Kal’ promotion from tomorrow to Saturday.



Chefs at the contemporary Indian eatery will present a menu of classic dishes as well as modern-day favourites with a hint of what’s to come. Here, Chef Gaurav Gaur from Indigo talks about his inspiring childhood in Delhi and achieving his goals by combining hard work with creative thinking

Did you have a childhood ambition to become a chef?

As a child I had always wanted to join the Indian Air Force as a pilot, but that possibility was ruled out as I got to wear specs quite early. At the age of nine, judo became a passion. I actively competed for 10 years, winning the Delhi state judo championship several times and medals at national level. Then I got an opportunity to represent India in an international camp, but due to an injury just before my board exams, I could not continue with the sport. My love affair with food started rather unexpectedly.

What’s your background in the culinary industry?

After high school, I decided to pursue a B.Sc. in Hospitality and Hotel Administration from IHM Mumbai, which is where my passion for food grew, and I decided that nothing else but cooking could be my career. Three years of college were over before I even realised it. I had several offers from different hotel chains after the campus recruitment, but in the end I decided to join The Park Hotels (a collection of luxury boutique hotels) as a kitchen management trainee. After a short stint at The Park Hotel Kolkata, I was posted in my hometown, Delhi. After two years of rigorous training - 15 to 16hrs a day at the age of 22 - I was promoted to the position of the head chef of Fire, an award winning, fine dining Indian restaurant. And a year and a half later I came here to Abu Dhabi.

Tell us about an interesting encounter you’ve had with a customer?

Once during a busy dinner service, a guest asked the waiter if he could speak to the chef. Upon meeting me, I clearly remember him saying, “How can someone so young be the head chef of such a restaurant?” Then he asked me my age and when I told him I was 25, he was even more shocked. He insisted on seeing my proof of age and I willingly showed him my ID.

What are some of the fun things you’ve done in your career?

During my early days in the kitchen, I was given the responsibility of the Sunday brunches in the hotel. I spearheaded new setup and menus, which were highly appreciated. As a reward, my executive chef started taking me out to a new restaurant (different cuisine/concept) every alternate week. I remember going to a specialty tea bar and tasting 30 different varieties of teas. That was fun. Especially during Ramadan my friends (all chefs) and I would go to Old Delhi in the night and enjoy local delicacies. We would end up eating so much that it was difficult to even walk back to the car park. I love going on culinary trips to different regions of India, the fondest trip of mine was to Uttaranchal (northern state of India), where I stayed with local people and tasted their regional specialties while cooking with them. Thanks to my classmate, who is a native of the state, it was one breathtaking experience that had the best scenery and cuisine.

What would you say is your culinary specialty?

I would consider my modern approach towards regional Indian cuisine my specialty. I like to use seasonal ingredients, combining regional Indian flavours and using a mix of modern and traditional cooking techniques, to create dishes that are beyond ‘authentic’. My ethos is to constantly evolve and push boundaries so that my diners get to taste something new, again and again.

What was growing up in Delhi like?

Being the capital, Delhi has seen an influx of people from all parts of India, and this has contributed to the amazing and vibrant culture/cuisine of the city. Delhi is modern yet has not lost its rich culture. It is in the school that one starts noticing different cultures/cuisines of India, from the lunch boxes that all other kids get. Growing up in Delhi, I remember going to the local vegetable market with my grandfather. He had this passion for horticulture and he used to tell me things like how to figure out if the melon is sweet or not just by touching it on the stem. He was the best cook in the family and he has been the huge focal point in my passion for food.

When did you arrive in the UAE and how did you adapt to your new home?

I came to the UAE in October 2009. I did not take long to adapt to the place. It must have taken me only about a week to realise that I had dozens of long-lost friends here. It made it so much easier to pursue my other passion of eating out.

For reservations to Indigo and more information, visit www.rotanatimes.com, call 02 697 9011 or e-mail fb.beach@rotana.com.


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