Five new-age chefs who redefine the work that comes with an apron


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Restaurants have been hit hard over the past two years. But hope springs: in places that have managed to survive; in brands that continue to thrive; and with young chefs who are completely game-changing. We spoke to a handful of promising leaders who, pandemic or not, are blazing their own trail. A Cordon Bleu education does not involve the road to five star hotels and the pursuit of the coveted title of executive chef; we discover through conversations that go off the beaten track. Instead, the “new age” seeks meaning, purpose and joy in everyday life. From kitchens that educate about ‘clean eating that nourishes’ amid the ongoing pandemic to developing recipes for home pantry additions that could transform your hospitality evenings, this generation of chefs is redefining the work that comes. with an apron.

Also, they ask: why wait 40 when you can get to level 20?

Sania Naqvi
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most potent form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” These words from the late Ann Wigmore, a naturopath, in the 1960s are the philosophy behind Seeking Roots, a cloud kitchen recently opened by chef Sania Naqvi (27). Growing up in Allahabad, she recalls: “My father was very demanding at the dining table so that each dish was a different color. This was the start of his understanding of “ingredient-based” cooking. Fast forward to a global pandemic, and Sania has decided that there is no better time to make “clean food more accessible” and, as she puts it, “make food less damaging”. This unique focus combined with culinary skills acquired at ITC Hospitality Management Institute, Manesar, followed by stints at ITC Gardenia (Bengaluru) and ITC Grand Chola (Chennai) led to a new menu with unusual pairings. .

Neelam Mango Ragi Pancakes

Our curiosity was piqued by the spinach and Malabar melon salad (said to be the crowd favorite) and the Ragi and dark chocolate granola brownies. Local ingredients and nuanced flavors aside, Sania says that in the future, she hopes to collaborate with farmers and cooking enthusiasts to reinvent people’s relationship with food and ingredients. Order via Facebook or Instagram for a meal or try the subscription for a regular meal plan personalized to your needs.

Tanvi Bokaria
French pastry with seasonal ingredients. It’s the heart of Tanvi Bokaria’s baking studio – Stubborn Baker – which launched on Instagram earlier this year. Imagine Gondhoraj’s lemons freshly picked from his Chennai garden being used for his lemon tarts, while Kodai’s sweet red carrots are found in his carrot and spice cake. Of course, none of this could have happened without the pandemic. After stints at Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park in New York, after her pastry course at the Culinary Institute of America, it was time to return to Chennai and gain more work experience. So when COVID-19 hit, Tanvi decided to spend his time cooking at home and taking orders from friends and family. The response, she says, has been phenomenal. “I set up my professional pastry workshop this year in February to deal with orders! she tells us.

Edible cabbage tower

a Instagram The showcase, which wasn’t part of the original plan before the pandemic, she shares, now gives her the creative freedom to experiment with unlikely flavor combinations. (We’re curious to try her Strawberry Black Pepper Cheesecake!) That aside, she shares, there’s a joy in “getting real-time response and feedback” via a DM. fast, unlike the months of paperwork waiting for an evaluation within the traditional reception structure. Orders require three to four days notice.

Abhav Malhotra
Abhav Malhotra (22) is a qualified chef from the Culinary Institute of America. But he doesn’t work in a restaurant. He doesn’t plan to do so anytime soon. “I am not hooked on the title of chef, he surprises us. “For me, it’s more about food. And the food … is a broad, broad spectrum. Free time during the early days of the lockdown inspired Abhav to experiment with food photography on his Instagram which quickly saw him move on to video tutorials on everything from “mother sauces” to “a knife guide for your kitchen”.

Girmit Chicken

With a slew of quick and nutritious recipes posted via reels, he shares, “I’m trying to build a community where I can share healthy and delicious recipes through cooking tutorials. People, especially in my generation, tend to neglect cooking and can sometimes find it too difficult, but in reality anyone can cook. Check out the latest project he’s involved in: an app that gives 13-year-old bakers a marketplace to get visibility for their menus and make sales, without the hassle of marketing.

Payal Rajanker
After working in professional kitchens across the country for five years with The Oberoi Group of Hotels, Payal Rajanker (28) decided it was time to come home. “I tried the tried and true hospitality route, but realized that I quickly grew bored of the routine,” she frankly admits. To keep things fresh and interesting for herself and guests, Payal is now focusing on multi-course sit-down meals at guest homes under her personal brand The Gourmet Gig (started July 2018). “Varied menus, new encounters, cooking in different kitchens … I love the rush!” she shares with apparent joy. His choice cuisine “Indian cuisine reinvented” also gives him plenty of space for creative play with dishes like the 3pm potato. Mille-feuille, Fauji Lamb Kheema and garlic Toum and the Roti Cenaï Served with Masala Fried soft shell crab.

Potato mill-leaf 3 p.m., lamb keema Fauji & garlic toum

As the pandemic has taken his cooking style from luxurious to more heartwarming, Payal tells us the lockdown has actually boosted his business. Since people weren’t dining in restaurants or hotels, they wanted to have a similar experience at home with an intimate group of friends and family. And this brand’s end-to-end service, from floral table decorations and premium crockery and cutlery, to table linens and personalized menu cards, caters to that perfectly. “I’m also working on community table pop-ups since everything has opened up now,” she says.

Adhira Swami
Recipes without borders. It is the driving force of the very creative Adhira Swami (25 years old) whose delicious rasam-gaspacho inspired that we got to sample the recent On The Rocks Chief Takeover series. Combining his training in French and Spanish cuisine (Le Cordon Bleu London and Madrid) with his roots in South India, thanks to his father, actor Arvind Swami, the flavors of Adhira reveal layers of depth and nuance. .

Autumn Salad with Duck

When Adhira isn’t consulting or preparing menus for exclusive pop-up dinners, she tells us that she’s working on a new brand of ‘elusive’ staples (think jams, spreads and preserves) that will be difficult. to find in a supermarket. . Liver pate in a bottle, anyone? Launch scheduled for early next year.

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Freeda S. Scott

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