Chef Neeraj Rawoot, who has worked both locally and globally, has joined Sofitel Hotel Mumbai BKC recently, a place where he would be able to uphold the high culinary standards with the freedom to revolutionise the menus. Prior to joining Sofitel he was working as Executive Chef at The Leela Ambience Gurugram Hotel & Residences. Born in Dhanbad, erstwhile Bihar state now in Jharkhand. Bringing over 21 years of adept culinary experience, will be transforming the hotel kitchen with a modern approach to classic cuisine. He will be responsible for spearheading operations and culinary teams of all the outlets at the luxury property offering exquisite and modern gastronomy to guests.
Chef Neeraj did his basic schooling from Delhi Public School, Dhanbad in Biology Science and later joined Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to study Geology. But his fate was in catering, so he joined prestigious Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Nutrition, (IHM) Pusa, New Delhi and passed out in flying colours in year 1998.
Neeraj’s area of gastronomic expertise predominantly lies in Indian cuisine, with proficiency in Thai and Nouville Western cuisines, as well. He firmly believes in curating an epicurean experience for his guests by constantly experimenting with varied ingredients. Neeraj’s skill set includes menu planning and engineering, budgeting and resourcing, vendor management, food safety and hygiene, forecasting, cost control and quality control. His impeccable attention to detail and hardworking nature has led to his achievements in the hospitality field. He enjoys experimenting and improvising with varied flavours and cooking styles to suit the modern day palate.
Having studied in Delhi, Neeraj, a food and beverage enthusiast, has worked with some of the renowned hotels including The Leela Ambience Hotel & Residences – Gurgaon, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton – Bangalore, Hilton Chennai, Grand Hyatt – Mumbai, President Park Bangkok and most recent is Sofitel Mumbai BKC.
How he became chef:
As a kid he has always been inclined towards cooking. His father was with TATA’s in a small town called Jamshedpur then. Lived in a typical housing colony life, wherein parents used to put all their kids together in 1 house before proceeding for a movie or shopping. He must be in standard IV or V, to everyone’s surprise, he used to indulge in cooking paranthas, eggs, Maggi, stir fries etc for the entire kid’s lot.
Ispiration and journey of becoming a chef:
While studying Geology, he met someone who had seen him grow cooking over the years and that lady suggested that “Neeraj, Do you know, there’s something called Hotel Management course which might go well with your talent”. Those days, not much awareness was there for Hotel Management, he just wanted to pursue science and become a doctor.
Destiny has something for him in store. Eventually he lost his father, so he had to choose a career which might give him quick returns; he had to support his family. He got through one of the premium institute and then there was no looking back. It was his need to join hotel Management which eventually became a passion. Once he joined the college, he realized that yes, this is what he wanted to be in. He was learning the science of food – he was going to be a Food doctor, a Chef. He started following worlds as well as India’s best Chefs, taking inspiration from them, here he is today in commanding position.
First in the family to join hotel industry:
Neeraj is a first entrant in to hospitality sector, prior to him no has worked in hotel trade. He came from family of Engineers; his father was a Mechanical Engineer and MBA from XLRI. His close family also dominated in engineering sector. After seeing his phenomenal growth and recognition he has achieved, he has become a role model and inspiration in his nearest and dearest family. He has inspired 3 more in his family who have opted for catering course and climbing ladder of success.
In his spare time, Chef Neeraj takes ardent interest in music, classic and contemporary tracks, movies to unwind and swimming as a recreational sport. He also takes a keen interest in learning foreign languages, with fluent Thai speaking skills. He believes that learning a cuisine is never complete without knowing the people and culture of a particular place and creating dishes according to different tastes and preferences.
Author: Sitaram Mewati
Award winning journalist