Navidakhtar A Sayyad Executive Chef The Orchid – An Ecotel Hotel, Mumbai

Chef Navid did his basic schooling in Holy Family High School and Venutai Chavan College, Karad in Maharashtra. He completed his Diploma in Hotel Management from the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering College Pune. He is the first ever Indian chef to be elevated as Chef de Partie (CDP) on P&O Cruise Liner within 15 days of his appointment. He is credited to have become an executive chef at the age of 24 to join Special Forces of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed in Dubai. In conversation with Senior Journalist MEWATI SITARAM…

CHEF NAVID

How did you become a chef?
I have come from a family of chefs. Throughout my life, becoming a chef was my dream. My inspiration comes from the family. My brothers who were already working on the cruise line were well settled as chefs. My most influential role model who stimulated my enthusiasm for culinary art is my late father.

How do you feel as a chef and cooking?
A chef is an artist and his mind always keeps juggling to create new recipes. Cooking is a science as well as an art. Ofcourse being passionate about your job is a must and in today’s world it’s a lot to do with your management skills as well. There is no place for complacency and ego, just keep learning everyday and explore the intricacies of cuisines with a child-like curiosity.

Your experiences…
I started my career with Hotel Retreat at Madh Island in Mumbai as Management trainee under Chef Awasthi. Those days it was a dream of almost all catering students to work for India’s oldest and finest brand Taj Mahal hotel, flagship hotel of the Taj Group. I was privileged to join The Chambers under Chef Zhaver and of course under the shadow of living legend Chef Hemant Oberoi. The chambers is a high profile club where India’s who’s who are the members. After gaining experience I opted out to join the world’s prominent cruise liners namely P&O cruise. Later I joined the Carnival cruise as Management trainee. I have also worked with New Africa hotel in
Dar-e-Salaam East Africa. I have worked for the Sarovar Group of Hotels and worked for group hotel Marine Plaza under Legend Chef Chakrovarthy. After gaining adequate experience, I again joined Cruise Line Swan Hellenic. After returning from cruise liners, I joined Sarovar Group’s Grand Sarovar premiere and Sarovar portico. I also opened their Banquets Grand Blossom.

Which would you define as the most enjoyable and most challenging aspects of your work?
Every single day is a new experience in a chef’s life. The most enjoyable part has been that I have met different people and visited almost every part of world. I have tried different types of cuisines. Indeed, it was really challenging to cope up with chef’s of different nations, but fortunately I got along very well later and learnt various techniques and culinary arts of different countries.

How do you keep abreast of all that is happening in the industry?
I keep myself updated with the changing norms of the industry. I subscribe to industry-related magazines which keeps me makes me aware of what’s happening. The internet has widened the area of enhancing knowledge in culinary skills. One can get latest technology, innovations, new recipes, latest trends etc virtually highlighted on various networks. Also, we do have regular meets with the team of HOD’s and Directors to understand how the new things and happenings are lined up in the coming week and month ahead.

Other noteworthy achievements during your career…
I am a first Indian chef to become a Chef de Partie (CDP) on P&O Cruise Liner. I have won Chef of the Year Award for Sarovar Group of Hotels in the year 2011.

Who all inspired you in the profession and what did you learn from them?
There are many talented chefs who came into my life who gave different dimensions in my culinary journey and profession. My apologies if I forget some name but that would be unintentional. There are prominent chefs who are globally famous and popular and I have learnt nuances of culinary. These chefs include Satish Aurora “The Bible of Culinary Art”, Chef Hemant Oberoi to be cool whenever pressure builds up, Chef Hayden Davis to be perfectionist, Chef Edward Fitzpatrick encyclopaedia of culinary art. I have learnt basics to perfection from Chef Zhaver and Master Chef Cyrus Marfatia.

Could you recall your unforgettable moments?
I cooked dinner for Queen Elizabeth under the guidance of Chef Anton Mossiman. I also cooked lunch for Prince Charles in Taj Mahal Mumbai and special Indian Lunch for Lord Sterling, London.

Any message for aspiring chefs…
Passion, hard work, and dedication is all that it takes to succeed in this industry like any other. This industry is beautiful – full of fun and challenges. I think it is a profession that is most sought today and gives an opportunity not only to serve but also experience Hospitality in your personal lives.

Any achievements or records in print and electronic media?
Besides cooking and innovating cuisines, I also have a flair in writing and presenting culinary to masses. I have been writing articles in Kahaleej Times, Savvy Magazine and Meri Saheli magazine. I am also featured in various television shows like Aamhi Saare Khavaiye on channels like Food Food, Star Majhaa and TV 9. I have prepared a longest Shawarma Roll which was of 25 feet. It is a record of its own and featured in the Limca Books of Records. It was telecast by leading channels like India Today and TV9.

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