Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twilight......

















Week back only I had clicked these pics, normally you find twilight at sunset time, but I captured it at 7 am morning.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Destiny...............



A few days back my friend Global Madrasi (R. Ramesh) wrote a blog about a destiny and he asked everybody, Do you believe in destiny or not? I did reply to him, yes I do and this blog is like an extension to that particular Yes. This is not regarding me; it’s regarding two of my dear friends Kuldeep and Nikhil. I have met both of them on 15th July 2002 on my first day as a Taj Management Trainee. We were batch of 18 trainees selected from all over India to be molded as future chefs,
Lets start with Kuldeep first, this 6’’ feet tall, haryanvi jaat, rather then a jaat, he was more like a stud of our batch. I feel during his collage days, he would have never dreamed also, that one day he would be a management trainee of Taj Group (I had also never dreamed that one day I will make it to TMTP) but we all 18 did it.

Kuldeep specialized in Bakery and confectionary and I did in European cuisine and these two years of training flew like 2 weeks, During these two years, we laughed, we cried, we cribbed, pulled each others leg and did all, that one trainee can do and then on 15th July 2004 the day came, for which we all were waiting from the very first day, our graduation ceremony, where we all got our black neckerchief, and officially announced as Chefs, but same day we got letter of deputation also. I had been deputed to Taj West End Bangalore and Kuldeep to Taj Exotica, Goa.

Now from here onwards destiny started to show its true colors, When Kuldeep reached Goa to resume his duty, his executive chef refused to accept him in his team (because according him corporate has not consulted him) so from Goa, he got transferred to Taj Hari Mahal Palace, Jodhpur. He worked there for a year and then again got back transferred to Goa, but this time he did resumed his duty. He worked there for 2 more years, during all this time, other batch mates got promoted to next level, but in his case he was hopping from one place to another. He spoke to his corporate chef, regarding promotion, but he refused. In this frustration and anger Kuldeep started to apply for jobs, where ever he can and by luck he wrote one mail to 3 star Michelin chef, Chef Michel Roux in London and asked for job of an apprentice (remember he was working as Sr Chef De Partie and was applying for an apprentice) but to his hard luck, Chef Michel refused to take him as an apprentice also. After few months, some how he managed to get a job in one of the London’s Indian restaurant. Now from London, again he wrote mail to Chef Michel Roux and mentioned that he has come to London and wanted to see his kitchen. Now this time his lady luck worked for him, he got a reply from Chef Michel Roux, who asked him to come with his Chef coat and offered him work in his kitchen for just one day.
It’s a matter of pride for any chef to work with Chef Michel Roux, even if it’s for one day. He went there and worked for one day and a week later he got a job offer from Chef Roux to join him in his 3 star Michelin restaurant “Waterside Inn” as Pastry Chef, can you imagine, a place where Kuldeep applied for a job of an apprentice and had been rejected, today same place was offering him a Pastry Chef. He joined “Waterside Inn” and worked there for a year, after a year, again a destiny started to play with him; he got a new job offer with double package, (obviously everybody works for money), so he left Waterside Inn to join his new restaurant, but this time his lady luck did not worked, his work permit got rejected, now he was like a (na ghar ka, na ghat ka), again he started his new job hunt and applied to as many places as he can, but nothing worked, so he came back to India and after two months again he got a call from London and this time it was from celebrity chef, Chef Atul Kocher and he offered him a job of Pastry Chef in his one star Michelin restaurant Benaras in London. Now again he flew back to London. Currently he is working in Benaras as Pastry chef.

Now lets talk about Nikhil, same like Kuldeep, I met Nikhil also during my TMTP time, but Nikhil left training program after 6 months only to pursue his higher studies in New Zealand but due to some personal problem, he came back to India and did not completed his course. In India he joined Park Hotel, New Delhi as Sr Chef de Partie and later got promoted to Sous Chef. Now this time his destiny played, on his lucky day, he was doing afternoon shift and a team of TV channel came to conduct auditions for their new cookery show and by luck he was the only senior chef available on duty, he gave audition and got selected and today he is a celebrity chef of popular cookery show Rasm E Rasoi on channel 9x

I am not saying that these guys did not worked hard, they definitely worked very hard, but today where they have reached, only one out of thousand Kuldeeps and Nikhils reach to that place.

Now all this is not destiny, then what is this? Now, I ask you again, do you believe in destiny or not?
P.S: My friend Kuldeep has written his comments about this particular blog, you can read his comments too. This particular blog was my perception, but he thinks totally opposite....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Long..Long... wait....


I had clicked this photograph in Chandigarh's Sukhna lake. It seems like this tree is waiting for spring to come, to see its leaves once again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Khao Galli.. Chatpata Menu.. Rangeen Venue...


Khao Galli, is the name of theme night buffet in Taj Residency, Bangalore. Where they offer an array of all kinds of street food, from chaats to chicken shawarma, from vada pav to chicken 65 and their tag line is Chatpata menu, Rangeen venue. So if you are in Bangalore, just try it, it happens every wednesday.

Honored..... Hey..My First Award...





I received my first award from Ms Prachi Pandey a team member of Delhi with Avinash & Friends and they had received this award from Tripti Joshi at Life is a Quest . If you read Avinash's and his teams blogs, you will really feel great, he writes awesome poems, an articles and his team clicks amazing pics from daily delhi life. Thanks Prachi and many thanks to your team, I really felt honored.

The rules for the Friendship Award are simple:-*Copy the badge and put it on your blog.*Link back to the one who passed this tag to you.*Spread this tag to at least 4 bloggers or more who you think you are friends with.

I would like to pass on this special award to:

1. Ms Nitu at nituscorner

2.Ms Priyanka Khot at Delhi Photo Diary

3.Ms Vinisha at sanglife

4. Mr Ramesh at Global Madrasi

I really like to read all of your blogs and your sepcial commens, so thanks to all of you for good writing.
keep it up!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reduced Tea Sauce



As an Indian or should I say Human being, we all are an addicted to something or other. It could be sleeping (My favorite), reading, eating, net surfing, blogging, watching TV, music… List is endless. But being an Indian most of us are an addicted to one common thing i.e. either Tea or Coffee.
These tiny leaves of Camellia Sinersis plays major role in our everyday life, some people will not get up from their beds without having a sip of hot Tea and everybody uses it according to their need.

Now, when I am talking so much about This Tea, So how can I forget my Hotel and my dear Chefs? Yes this tea is like an addiction to most of the chefs, (Including me) which helps them to keep awake in long hour shifts and fulfill their need of caffeine.

During the days of my management trainee, when me and my other batch mate Shantanu (who likes to call himself as Shan) were doing our cuisine specialization in one of the Taj’s fine dine restaurant and there also Chefs were too addicted to this non-alcoholic somras. Now obviously chefs will not make Tea for themselves, so being a word ‘trainee’ attached to our so-called designation, we were the one who used to make it, and every time we used to crib because if somebody is making Tea, then he has to make it for whole kitchen brigade.
But one fine day, by god’s grace an Industrial trainee entered our kitchen, we both were happy with just a mere thought (hey naya Murga ayya, ab trainees ko trainee mile to kya hoga) Now somebody else will get dry store, somebody else will clean vegetables and most imp somebody else will make Tea for chefs.

One day, as it was not much busy, Shan planned to rag that trainee, so my friend Shan, so called ‘Chef Shan’ went to him and asked, So Tiger do you know how to make Tea Sauce? (There is a story behind word tiger, which I’ll share some other time).
That innocent trainee with his frog like wide-opened eyes said, ‘No Chef’ and Shan was expecting this answer only. He said, No problem, today I’ll teach you how to make Reduced Tea Sauce. (I was dying to laugh, but was acting to look serious).
Shan said, ok now you take out your scribbling pad and write down Mise- en –place list of Tea sauce, obviously that guy was not carrying scribbling pad (we also never carried) so Shan started his lecture, you new age trainees (like we were old, we were just 19) you don’t carry scribbling pad, you think, you can remember all recipes, you can mug whole larrouse (dictionary of gastronomy). By the time Shan was showing his superiority, that guy got hold of some paper and Shan started to dictate his Mise- en- place list.
Heavy bottom medium size saucepan.
Earl Grey tea leaves.
Castor sugar
White cardamom pods
Nestle skimmed milk.
Chinoise (fine strainer).
Most important. Clean portable water

After ten minutes, that guy came back with all items and asked Shan, What to do next chef?
Again Chef Shan started, put pan on medium heat and pour water, and wait for sometime. (That guy was listening with his full attention and was doing the same), now add Tealeaves and cardamom in water and let them brew. Now add milk and after first boil reduce it for sometime, till the time tea sauce attain good color. That innocent guy followed all instruction, as instructed.
Once all this is over, he again came back to Shan and asked what to do next chef? Shan very confidently said, now stain the tea sauce and pour in cups and give it to everybody, as soon as Shan ended his sentence, we both started laughing and guy also came to know that Shan has made him fool.
Till date I have not forgot this tea sauce and I am sure that guy also must have not.
So I feel after reading, all of you know how to make reduced tea sauce. Lol…

Friday, January 16, 2009

Big Canvas

















I had clicked these pictures on different days or may be different months too. (actually i don't remember) In my previous property, most of the time I used to do split shifts, so at afternoon I used to come back to my room to sleep and at an evening when I used to go back, sometimes I used to find these kind of picturesque, beautiful sky. After seeing them, It feels like some painter has painted the whole sky with his brush, but its amazing to see boundless, an eternal sky in different colors and hues.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nature's Garland




I had clicked these pictues in Taj West End, Bangalore. I don't know what's a name of the flower,
But when these flowers were blossoming, I felt attracted towards them and thats the whole reason I captured them in my cam.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Full Moon





I have waited almost 20 days to click these photographs and yesterday I got an opportunity but sky was so cloudy that Moon itself was struggling to appear.
Few days’ back I was listening to a programme called “reach for the stars” on radio (because now a days that’s only source of entertainment i have) and came across a very profound thought. Somebody messaged that he is new in UAE and feeling home sick. The Astrologer on the show said, “ Whenever you feel home sick or missing somebody, just look towards moon and think that, that particular person is also looking towards the same." (I know it sounds like a typical bollywood dialogue) but sometime it works. Try it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

One Durga, Two Expressions







I had bought this statue of Durga in the year 2003 from Hyderabad's laad bazzar, during that time i did not paid any attention to this, I just got it and hanged it on my drawing room's wall.
During my last visit to my home, I was looking towards this and clicked these two pictures. According to me, if you see first picture, it seems like small innocent girl is smiling and if you pay attention to second one, there is a smile of beautiful, gorgeous and an elegant woman. So what do you think?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Still Going (Growing) Strong







I would like to dedicate my first picture post to Ms. Priyanka Khot, as after reading her blogs i have become admirer of her writing style and i can assure you if you read her blogs, you will also get addicted to those.
Ok now lets talk about these pictures, I had clicked these pictures almost four months back, when i was working with Taj. This is some 80 years old Rubber tree situated in Taj West End Bangalore, which itself is more then 100 years old property.
There were two thoughts in mind when i had clicked this picture. 1. It seems, like some one is standing with his arms wide open. 2. Its long branches looks like a jata (hairs) of old sadhu baba.
So what's the first thought comes in your mind when you see this huge tree?

From Khansama to Chef or Still, A Khansama………





During senior secondary only almost 60 percent of studious students decides to appear for PMT (Pre Medical Test) to become doctor or CET (Common Entrance Test) to pursue their career as an Engineer, but I was in another 40 percent lot, who just do what comes in their way, so I decided to appear for Hotel Management entrance test conducted by National Council of Hotel Management, India. (May be because I was not too comfortable with mathematics), I got through the entrance test and joined Institute of Hotel Management, Chandigarh. It was three year program and according to the curriculum of 2nd year, each student supposed to undergo 22 weeks of industrial training in any of the five star hotels to get them exposed to the real world of hotel industry, which is just opposite to the shimmering glamorous facade. But that opposite world of show floor also has its own charm.

I did my training in Hyatt Regency, New Delhi and during my training only I found myself fascinated towards the Chef profession, may be due to the respect, which they get in hotel or the crisp white uniform with black buttons and long white apron. I really don’t know which reason overpowered my decision to choose Chef as a life long profession. While campus interview I got through Taj Hotel’s management trainee program in food production (Which is considered as one of the best job to start career after hotel management) and after two years of training in all the luxury properties of Taj, I got a designation of Chef.
Now it’s been more then 6 years, I am working as a chef and till last year I had a notion that at least decent educated people in India knows about this profession and I used to give the whole credit of that to Chef Sanjeev Kapoor (Khana Khazana fame) because he was the one who had actually introduced this profession to the real India through his Khana Khazana series.

But an incident or a conversation had changed my notion about people's perception about Chef as a profession. I was traveling from Bangalore to Delhi and was waiting for my flight to depart, there was a person sitting on my next chair, after a small chitchat, he asked me about my profession and what I do? I very proudly said I am working as Chef. He said, what?
Again I repeated the same sentence that I am working as Chef, with a great difficulty to his tongue, he some how pronounced that word and asked me where do I work? I replied him that i for the hotel. So his instant question was, then what is this Chef? I said I work in kitchen, my answer was like a utter surprise to him, he said oh, “to Khana banate ho aap, Khansama ho’. I paused for a second and said “haan ji, Khansama huin.” On top of this when he actually understood the word Chef and my profession, he started asking recipes for his wife and himself. During that time I thought that all the pain which top chefs of India took or taking to promote this profession from mere khansama to chef has gone into trench. (I would like to mention that I did not mind his word Khansama, but the way he said it, I could make out his perceptions).

Here I am not denying the very fact that yes cooking is the very basic job of any Chef but as a profession in a whole its much more then just cooking. Today when in Europe, Chefs have reached celebrity status (Gordon Ramsay, Gary Rhodes, Roux Brothers, Thomas Keller) where people wait months to dine in their restaurants, but in India Chefs are still considered as just mere Khansama or Bawarchi. But in reality it is much more then that. Chef is the person who innovates, who leads, who manage, ok leave it, I don’t want to discuss job description here.

I do understand that in India most of the parents want their kids to be future Doctor or Engineer. But my point is, if decent educated people like that person will think so inferiorly about the professions which are not traditional and are different then Doctor, Engineer, Teacher and many others, then how they will guide or advise their wards or others to join these different professions.
Still, whenever I wear my chef coat I can feel that sense of proud and dignity. But I feel in India, chef as a profession, we have to go a long way.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fond Farewell To 2008, Warm Welcome To 2009




So yesterday night we all gave a very fond farewell to year 2008 and welcomed 2009 with a cheer, hope, dreams and expectations.
But today on a very first day of a year, I am still feeling the same emotions, which were there when I had started 2008, only places have changed, last year I was in Bangalore and this year I am in Dubai, but still emotions are same.
For me year 2008 was an exceptional, I had started my last year with a ray of hope and expectation in my mind and I am finishing it with a same hope and expectation. 2008 has left a mark in my memory and I will never forget it for many reasons.

Lets start with very beginning of the year. For me month of January 2008 was the month of hope, I was desperately waiting for my interview result, which I gave in December 2007, An interview had went very well, chef offered good position and I agreed to that but whole month went in the hope of receiving an offer letter, which never came. Till date I really don't know what went wrong and where, is it that they did not liked my profile or I had asked for too much or I had kept too many expectations from myself and from them.
Then in the month of January only a milk incident happened. In the night of 31st December one couple guest gave a parcel to butler to keep it in deep freezer and he kept that. On 1st I was off, on 2nd when I came, I saw that parcel in refrigerator but I did not opened it (as it was mentioned on it), same happened on 3rd, 4th and in the evening of 5th I asked my butler manager about the parcel because it was looking wet from outside and then we both opened it and to our amaze there were small packets of white liquid which looked like curdled and later we came to know that it was breast milk and suppose to be frozen. (Till that moment I had never seen breast milk in packets). So during checkout time when guest came to know about that, they created huge hue and cry, but management handled it and later all of them screwed both of us (me and manager). That was the lesson learned, that do not take a single needle also lightly if its in your area.

Then came February, I was very happy for the very reason of meeting my parents after a year. It was my annual leave, I flew from Bangalore to Delhi and then from Delhi to Chandigarh by bus. As soon as I kept my foot down, it was chilly outside, So much fog that i was not able to see across the road. while living in Bangalore I used to miss this winter chill, drinking hot tea in warm cozy quilt. At home it was like a festive time, everybody was happy, all my very close relatives came to meet me, it was like a spa treatment where everybody tries to pamper you. February is also important because in Feb only i got my flat registered which I had bought in 2007 (obviously with the help of home loan). I really feel proud that I have bought my own flat with my own hard earned money. Then came the day when I had to leave back to Bangalore and that was the moment when every year I feel mushy. There were tears in every bodies eyes and i did not knew how to stop them.

So I am back to work, back to normal life of hotel, food, guests, my staff and my kitchen. In the month of March Le Chaîne Des Rôtisseurs opened its first chapter in Bangalore and I was the in charge for that very high profile function. I planned special menu, presentations everything. Then came the day, I was confident but nervous too because group corporate chef was specially coming to attend that particular function and at that very moment you want to prove yourself as the best. Everything went very well as per the plan, everybody appreciated the food and i was on the top of the world when corporate chef asked my executive chef for the recipes of that special menu.

In the month of April and May was feeling very restless, there was nothing major happening, Kitchen was going for renovation so i was busy with much of pre renovation things, like paperwork, Shifting of the equipment, Arraning new temporary kitchen and so on. But in the month of May only i again started my new job hunt.

I kept my job hunt continued for the month of June also and within few days I got an offer from Maldives, as I was thinking and taking suggestions from my friends about the offer, One more offer came from cruiselines with good money and good position, Again I was in dilemma what to do, which one to take, which one to leave and to my utter surprise after few days i got an email asking me for a new job. I replied to that email and very next day HR manager called me and took my interview and after two days to that executive chef called me and took telephonic interview. All this was happening so sudden that i could not believe that is this a real job offer or somebody is playing prank with me. Again I am in much more dilemma (woh kehte hain na bhagwan jab deta hai to chappar phaad ke deta hai). After few days i got an offer letter from my current hotel and then I thought those interviews were not a prank. So then first I refused to Maldives’s offer, then to cruiselines. Month of June was a busy month, everybody in hotel have got the hint that very soon I am going to resign but I was busy with preparation all documents for visa and medical.

Then In the Month of August, that day came when I had to submit my resignation. It was very emotional moment for me, I really did not knew whether I am doing right or not, because this is the place from where i had started my career, had given 6 years to that company and when you work for so long with one company, you used to the culture and system of that. But today I was leaving, with lot of courage I entered my executive chef's office and told him about my decision. He denied accepting my resignation, but I kept it on his table and left, for next 15 days my executive chef did not spoke to me a single word. I was really feeling frustrated due to his ignorance and then I went to speak to him and the things which he told me after hearing that it was more like a emotional bond. Now everybody knew that I have resigned, so they planned my farewell and I planned my party for my colleagues. On very last days of August my staff gave farewell to me and to every bodies surprise I bloody cried in that farewell, which I did not expected from myself also and day later I gave party for my colleagues. But here I would really like to add that I thoroughly enjoyed every bit, every moment of my four-year tenure in my previous hotel. I still miss my colleagues who later became friends, my staff and my kitchen.

Then on 7th September I landed in Dubai, new place, new world, new hopes and with new dreams. I reached my hotel at 11.30 pm and they allocated hotel room to me. Next day I reported to HR and they took me to my new executive chef, I was really worried how he will be, how i will approach him, but thank god till date my equation is very well with him. Now again I am in situation where I need to prove myself and that process is going on.

One very important reason for which I will always remember 2008 is, this year I lost my friend Hemant Talim in November month's terrorist attack. I will always miss him.

Now its been almost 4 months, I have almost settled down, but some how I am not getting that inner satisfaction for which I had left my previous job and for which I came to Dubai. I still found myself standing on the same situation, same stagnation, where I was in the starting of 2008 so my job hunt is still on for a place where i can get my inner satisfaction and solace.

Hope year 2009 gets new hopes, dreams and everybody gets their solace...