Culinary legend Satish Arora hanging up his ladle, apron & chef cap after serving for almost 50 years with the Taj Group

ratan tata
Satish Arora with Ratan Tata

Yes, you heard it right; it’s the end of an era. Satish Arora, Director Food Production – Taj Sats, after 50 years in the kitchen is retiring on March 31st, 2016 after an impressive almost 50 years. He is popularly known as Bhishma Pitamah in Indian hospitality industry. He has been working for Taj Group of hotels, India’s first, oldest, biggest and pioneer chain of hotels. Probably he is only chef in India who is working for single company continuously for almost five decades.

“I am born as a chef and I will die as a chef. I am sad to be leaving but it is the right time for me to stop working, for a while. I will really miss everyone because I have been here for so many years and really enjoy my job from bottom of my heart. I’m just planning to have a break to start with. I might take up a couple of hobbies, but I will see how I get on. Many offers have come my way to join them locally and internationally”.

Gyani Zail Singh
WITH PRESIDENT OF INDIA GYANI ZAIL SINGH

Arora joined Taj Mahal Hotel Bombay in 1966, when he was just 19 years of age, beginning his career as management trainee. Arora was the youngest Chef in the world to take over a 5-Star Hotel Kitchen at the age of 26 as Executive Chef of Taj Mahal hotel Mumbai in 1972. He took over reins from Angelo Mascarenhas who was Executive chef of Taj Mahal hotel who served for 55 years. Later he was appointed Chef Culinary of the Taj Group – Western and Southern Regions in 1985, appointed Director Food Production 1990.

P V NARSIMHA RAO
WITH PRIME MINISTER P V NARSIMHA RAO

Arora is known as the father of culinary art in India and a high profiled Indian chef. He completed his basic schooling from Ramjas School, Paharganj Delhi and graduated from IHM Pusa, in 1966. He did Hotel Management with specialization course in Kitchen Planning and Production. He had been a cooking legend for almost five decades. He is an ambassador of Indian cooking and was placed among the ultimate chefs for being associated with Indian Cuisine. “The King Maker” as his chefs whom he taught and trained for many years became top chef themselves.

Retirement from Tajsats is not the closed chapter of his career but a new beginning too. Post retirement numerous offers have already pouring in for him to join their company. First and foremost is United Kingdom base DSI flight caterer. DSI caters to United Airlines, Qantas Australian Airlines, British Airways and Virgin train. Besides, there is an open offer from India’s leading private Airline who is willing to take him on their board too. “I am keeping my options open as of now, as I planning to take a short break before deciding” said Satish Arora.

Prince Charles0001
WITH PRINCE CHARLES

Chef Arora was groomed under strict discipline during childhood days and remained punctual till date. Having come from an Army family, he travelled extensively along with his father to various parts of the country, trying out cuisines prepared by army cooks when they used to stay in officers Mess. When asked about why he chose cooking profession, he says “My mother was a wonderful cook and I used to trail her in the kitchen and observed her cooking. I tried out various dishes in her absence whenever she used to visit temples for kirtan. She helped me enhancing my cooking skill and informed me what lacked in my dishes and used to give me cooking tips. I was keen in cooking and believed in perfection so I used to pen down recipe in my diary and used to try out the same dish to perfection”.

Indira Gandhi0001
WITH PRIME MINISTER INDIRA GANDHI

His culinary journey with Taj group has seen countless unforgettable moment in his life. He travelled on board with former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s entourage, travelled to USA, Iran, Egypt and Colombo. He was assign to PM”s cookery at Taj Hotel in Kumarakom in Kerala during his stays there for his treatment.

The Taj group has sent him to widen his culinary adeptness at regular intervals. He was sent to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf in 1968 for extensive training, sent for special course in cold food decoration in USA 1976, lead team Chefs to China to learn Chinese Cuisine and to teach Indian Cuisine in 1978. He travelled to Pakistan to learn Peshwari Food in 1980. He lead team of chefs to organise food festivals globally that includes Goan food promotion in Europe in 1973, 1975 and 1979, Japan & Switzerland in 1988 and in South Africa in1993.

satish2

Chef Arora was the first Indian chef appointed as one of the 8 members’ team on Singapore Airlines Culinary Panel in 1999.British PM Margaret Thatcher autographed his chef cap and PM of Indira Gandhi patted on his back in appreciation in 1983, during Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) held in Goa. Arora was in charge of CHOGM culinary team. Another feather in his cap was when he went to London to prepare meals for Queen Elizabeth and the entire Royalty for the President of India’s “Royal Banquet” in 1990.He was in-charge of SAARC heads of Governments catering in Colombia 1998. Furthermore, he prepared meals for Prince Charles banquet to Indian Industrialist in UK in 1991.

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He has won many awards and accolades. The Curry Club of England conferred him Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, won Gold Medal in the Culinary Olympics Japan 1987, Cathay Pacific conferred an Award for excellent presentation of Indian Cuisine in 1992, a German Food Magazine chose him among 20 best Chefs in the world in 1991, awarded outstanding “Chine Des Rotisseurs” Dinner in Colombo in 1994, winner of gold medal in Culinary Olympic in Japan organized by Okura Hotel where teams from U.S.A., Paris, Singapore, Rome, Italy and India participated in 1987, won a medal from Swiss Press Club. He was awarded a silver plaque by culinary forum in India for outstanding services to culinary field in 2002, Lifetime Achievement Award from World Culinary Forum and Indian Culinary Forum in 2013.

It may sound unbelievable but it’s factual that he has organized and in person served exclusive dishes to plentiful heads of the state and leading dignitary of the world. The list includes US President Bill Clinton, Her majesty – Queen Elizabeth of England, President Mikhail Gorbachev of USSR, François Mitterrand President of France, British PM’s Sir Edward Richard Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Lady Diana, Prince Karim Aga Khan, Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, His Highness Shaikh Bin Sulman Al Khaifa Amir of Bahrain, Australian PM Bob Hawke, Kenith Kaunda of Zambia, President -Robert Mugabe, Jayawardhene of Srilanka, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam PM of Mauritius, Sir Shridath Ramphal Commonwealth Secretary general, Hussein bin Talal King of Jordan, Veerasamy Ringadoo President of Mauritius, Naka Sone – PM of Japan, President –Major Yuri Gagarin, Prince Claus of Netherlands, Zubin Mehta -World known Orchestra Conductor, Mohammed Ali (Boxer), Gina Lollabrigeda (Actress), Rex Harrison (Actor), (1st Man to go to space), Neil Armstrong (American Astronaut), leading Indian Film Stars, Indian and International cricket team. And last but not the least Indian PM Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee and all Presidents of India.

WHAT INDUSTRY PEOPLE HAS TO SAY

ajit
Ajit B Kerkar – Former Managing Director Taj group of hotels
“Satish is such an iconic personality that it is difficult to justify in words this extremely talented person, his culinary skills, his creativeness and above all his simplicity and humility, a fine human being. Satish revolutionised the Food & Beverage Department of the Taj Mahal hotel, later he moved to specialised Air Catering business of the Group (TAJSats). Today he is considered one of the world’s top few experts in airline catering. He was closely associated with me in the Taj. It is a great pleasure to see him grow and evolve over the years and achieve success and fame. I wish him all the best always and many more years of success”.

rajiv
Rajiv Kaul – President The Leela group of hotels and Resort
“Satish is an institution and leaves behind a rich legacy – having shaped generations of culinary talent in the country”.

KB
K B Kachru – Chairman Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, South Asia
“He is a towering personality and institution himself. Whole industry looks at him for his outstanding achievements”.

sanjeevkapoor
Sanjeev Kapoor – Grand Master Chef, owner – Food Food Channel
“I am speechless to describe chef Satish Arora. He is amazing, in depth knowledge of culinary, a walking encyclopaedia and a good human being, The industry people classified him as “The Magician”, having said that, permit me to express the same to Chef Arora, classifying him as the countries culinary magician, with his “out of the box” approach towards excellence. You are the best”.

Jitendra
Jitendra kumar – Chief Operating Officer – Devyani Airport Services (Former Executive Chef Taj Lands End)
“Chef, you might bid adieu to this organization but your footprints will stay in our hearts forever. Bosses are the subject of ire and complaint. We criticize them readily when we see things go awry; we bemoan when we have to work late; we are quick to get irritated when the meetings are difficult.
Personally, the more I go out on a limb and try new things, the fewer leaders there are in front of me. Each step I take in carving out a new path, I find there aren’t as many people around me looking back, telling me what I’m doing is right. Or whether what I’m doing is worth doing at all. It can be a lonely, strange endeavour. And often the only sound you hear is criticism. Or the crickets chirping..extend my arm and I find you standing by my side like a ROCK. You have been a great inspiration and a mentor. I wish all the best in years to come…May God bless you with good health and all the happiness that you desire. We’ll miss you Chef..!!

Ashrafi
Ashrafi Matcheswala – General Manager Taj Campton Place, San Francisco
“Chef Satish Arora is a wonderful human being and a brilliant chef. He has cooked for presidents and maharajas and yet has retained his humility. His five decades at the Taj are a credit to his wonderful talent and I wish him all the best in all his future endeavours”.

Amit
Amit Chowdhury – Executive Chef, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel Mumbai
“Chef Arora is an icon to many chefs. I was one of them. He had through his sheer hard work and dedication inspired many budding chefs. His humility and his thirst for knowledge was his strength. I had the opportunity to work with him & learn when I joined as a trainee chef in Taj. His knowledge about Continental cuisine is vast and was probably responsible in making this cuisine popular in The Taj group”.

sriram
A V Sriram – Michelin Star Chef and Director Operations – The Quilon St. James Court Buckingham Gate London (A Taj Hotel)
“Chef Arora has been chef of the chefs. He has contributed immensely to the Taj group and the hospitality industry in the whole. He has personally been a great friend and teacher. I wish chef Arora a very happy and enjoyable second inning if he decides to continue in the trade. Good luck and thank you for your friendship and advice, always.

anirudh
Anirudh Roy – Executive Chef Taj Lands End
“A man for all seasons, great talent and substance. Yet humble and a guiding light for all aspiring chefs! He is a beacon of Indian hospitality industry and would remain so. All the very best”.

salil
Salil Fadnis – Executive Chef Sahara Star hotel & Aamby Valley
“When I started my career, I knew only two names and one of them was Chef Satish Arora. He has been a pioneer and I have always looked up to him right from my initial days. He’s a legend and stands tall with his work, greatness and simplicity. I was not fortunate enough to work with him but I have tremendous respect and that has grown with every interaction that I’ve had with him”.

farhan
Farhat Jamal – senior vice-president (operations) Western India and Africa
“I have known Chef Arora for over 3 decades. His contribution to culinary journey of Taj Group
Has been truly commendable. His humility, energy, immense passion for driving quality and creativity is exceptional. One of the great chef’s of our time”.

PK Mohan
P.K. Mohankumar – Ex COO Indian Hotels Co & Ex MD & COO Ginger Hotels
“Dearest Arorasaab your final working day @ Taj is an Era being over ! But for many of us Chef Arora is Mr Taj! Welcome to the heritage club! You will always be a TAJ Ratna!! God bless”.

Report: Sitaram Mewati

23 Comments

  1. sanjay kumar said:

    Chef Arora is a complete picture of soberness and modesty. Especially I have learnt a lot from his passion and feeling for the kitchen which made him icon for this era’s chefs. He is always a guiding light for the passionate chefs and I am sure all of us gained many insights from his professional journey.
    Chef i will never leave your shown professional path to me.

  2. Veer vijay singh said:

    Chef Satish Arora was my first Boss in 1976 when I joined Taj as a Trainee Chef. He is truly a great legend for the Hotel Industry. A great combination of talent, hardwork, perseverance and most of all HUMILITY.
    He made the work look so much fun- something that is not seen today. He is a man of a Golden heart and I welcome him to his retirement but knowing him- there are more laurels to be seen.
    Wish him all the best.
    Warm wishes
    Veer Vijay Singh

    • Satish Arora. said:

      Veer Vijaysingh sahib. Thanks for your emotional comments. God bless you sir.

  3. Dev Malhotra said:

    Very rarely I have come across a person who is truly humble, a gentleman and a thorough professional. Chef Arora truly displays these qualities. My brief associations with him during my 15 years at The Taj Group leaves great learning and a wealth of memories to cherish. Best wishes to you sir for a very enjoyable second innings. Industry needs professionals like you who can continue to inspire youngsters to take up this challenging career. May God bless you a long and healthy life. Warm Regards…

    • Satish Arora. said:

      Thanks Dev sahib. Where are you sir. God bless you. I am humbled with your comments. Be in touch with me sir.

  4. Cyrus Todiwala said:

    Mr ARORA was my first boss, though I did join st the time when Chef Masceranhas was still around.
    It was during one uncaring moment in
    My early years and the very stern rebuke that I received from Mr ARORA that then pushed me into taking my job and my career seriously. I never looked back since.
    I have had the privilege of seeing Mr ARORA go from a young executive chef battling against the odds of the establishments ingrained nuances to one of the greatest chefs india has produced. He is an enigma and now perhaps the greatest exponent of indian cuisine.
    He is a true hero and a father figure to many.
    I shall look forward to seeing what the maestro is upto next.

    • Satish Arora. said:

      Cyrus sahib you have made me speechless with your very encouraging words. You are great sir. God bless you.

  5. Anil Mohan said:

    Chef Satish Arora is a name synonymous with Culinary magic and Taj. I have known Chef Arora for more than 30 years and it is difficult to imagine him hanging his apron. We as young Chefs were always tied to his apron strings, trying to get the best out of him. Besides being a Chef par excellence, he is a great human being too. Humble, down to earth, always there to help you out and above all some one with a great sense of humour. Some of the best evenings that we spent together after a tough day’s work, were full of jokes & loads of fun. I feel Chef Satish Arora is truly & genuinely in line for the next year’s Padma Shri Award…All the best Chefji…

    • Satish Arora. said:

      Anil sahib thanks for your comments. I donot know if I deserve all these comments. God bless you sir.

  6. Vipin Khullar said:

    Chef Arora, Best wishes and Kudos to a splendid career in Hospitality! As many others my Career started with you as my first professional Leader, though it was very brief but admired you every day while I was at the Taj. Thanks for being a role model of Thousands of Chefs and Culinarians not only in India but in the World! Best wishes again!

  7. RABBANI PATEL said:

    I am proud that my son CHEF Altamash PATEL had closely work with legend Chef Arora .all the best chef god bless you

  8. CHEF GOPAL said:

    I am very proud to worked with chef Arora in taj Mumbai at 1996.That time he is corporate chef but he is very simple… Excellent chef I never forget him from my life. Chef only selected me to work in Dubai taj at 1997 with Chef Vijay Rao Bhanja (Preopening team). Chef Arora is legend for everyone . May god bless with good health & long life……

  9. Chef Sudhakar N Rao said:

    Chef Arora wil always be remembered for his ethics and discipline in the Culinary World. All of us who worked under Chef Arora are successful in our chosen fields because its not the technical skills or cooking we learned from him but how he taught us to be a perfect and true professional. THANK YOU CHEF FOR EVERYTHING WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO US AND EVEN AFTER YOUR RETIREMENT YOU WILL STILL INSPIRE PEOPLE. Wishing you good health and happiness and our best wishes will always be with you.
    Chef Sudhakar
    Director/Principal
    Culinary Academy of India.

  10. Sunil Godase said:

    Chef Satish Arora,
    Am proud to be the part of the Taj SATS Team (Security) during 1996 to 2007…Happen to learn Good thing from you…Sir…
    Best wishes and Kudos to a splendid career in Hospitality!

  11. Satish Arora. said:

    Rabbani sahib. I was very happy to be associated with Altmash. He is a wounderful kid. God bless you.

  12. shankar kotian said:

    Indeed chef satish aurora is a legend in culinary field. I am so fortunate and lucky that I was groomed, trained and had d best opoortunity to work with him. It was a truly amazing experience and journey working under his leadership. Because of his guidance i am a successful executive chef

  13. Bomi Patell said:

    Chef Arora of 1972 when I was a apprentice at the Room Service. Strict, understanding and a friend. Dedicated his life in the service of the culinary profession and holding the Fort at the Taj Mahal Hotels.
    You have earned every bit your retirement flooded with good and meaningful memories. You will always stay connected to our hearts. God Bless

  14. Satish Arora. said:

    I thank all you wounderful people for voicing such lovely words for me. God bless you all.

  15. Patricia Roche said:

    Congratulations Mr. Arora for being a kind person when I worked with you, will always remember you in my prayers.

    Regards,

    Patricia Roche
    Canada

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