Chef Amninder Sandhu is born in a Sikh family in Jorhat (Assam).She completed her basic schooling from prominent Hemalata Handique Memorial Institute (HHMI) School, the first English medium school in Jorhat. She is B.Sc. graduate in (life Sciences) from prestigious Sophia College at Pedder Road in Mumbai. She studied three years of culinary arts and kitchen administration at Institute of hotel management, Aurangabad in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield (U.K). She has also done her masters certification with the knights bridge PME School of cake decoration (U.K)
The busy Chef Amninder speaks to Mumbai Messenger in between running from restaurant to kitchen to give expert touch to guests order. Excerpts from the conversation with Senior Jornalist Sitaram Mewati
You being a lady what made you to choose profession of a Chef?
Well, I can’t choose what I am, but I can choose what I become. I found what I was looking for. I love it because it’s about being grateful for all that nature provides. I felt, this is the exact environment I want to work in. That was where I started to pay attention to my inner voice and I am here as a chef. Cooking is my true calling and I love it sincerely. The rush you get after a busy dinner service makes it all worth it. I didn’t dwell too much on being a lady when it came to choosing this profession and I don’t think anyone else should either.
Were anyone from your family worked for hotel industry?
I am first entrant in hotel industry. No one from my family has ever worked in the hotel industry. Though I am being a first entrant, after seeing my growth many more are opting and wanting to enter this trade. So, in my opinion I am a trendsetter in my family, whose footsteps are followed by nearest and dearest family members.
Did anyone inspire you to join chef’s profession?
There is always an inspiration in every individual’s life and similar was the case with me too. There are many chefs who have made their name in culinary trade and are iconic figure. In my case there are three chefs who inspired me to land up in this profession. The chefs who inspire me are Marco Pierre white, Jamie Oliver and Eric Lanlard.
All three chefs have different style in culinary field. Marco Pierre White is the original gastro Godfather’, and was the youngest-ever chef to win three Michelin stars, before he handed them back and walked away. I learnt a great deal from him when he shares his life’s experience. Jamie Oliver inspires me because he promotes healthy eating habits especially among children. Eric lanlard’s cake designs inspire me as they are simple but great work of art and taste amazing.
Who inspired you in profession and what did you learn?
I am deeply inspired by Taj Lands’ End’s Executive Chef Anirudhya Roy for his “spine of steel” and in-depth knowledge of cuisines. Chef Roy is the most articulate and well read chef of the Taj group. He is a walking encyclopaedia and keeps himself updated with the latest global trends. Most conversations with him teach me something new or other which enhance my culinary skill sharper.
What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry?
The hotel industry and culinary skill is growing rapidly all over the World. Every day is a new day. Being in the kitchen one has to be mentally and physically tough. One has to being adaptive to change periodically when new trends emerge.
Working under constant pressure to deliver the food fast without sacrificing quality throughout the process, standing on your feet for long hours, enduring cuts and burns, heavy lifting, noise, heat, smokes and fumes, working on evenings, weekends and holidays and almost any time when the rest of the world is not working are just a few of the things you must go through as a chef.
Indian cuisines are available all over the World but why it is not standardized?
There was a tendency in olden days chef that if they share their knowledge of cooking, they will vanish from the trade. This tendency did not allow to pen down original recipe and slowly and gradually missing. Khansammas, Rakabdaars and cooks of royal kitchens still like to keep secrets to their hearts. There are secret ingredients which they use, secret recipes and so we have lost dishes now. Now the time is changing as qualified chefs have entered in to trade and they are trying to preserve olden treasure of recipe in digital form. Standardisation of recipe is slowly and gradually making pace with new generation chefs.
How do keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality?
Life is a journey and one has to travel from one place to another so I like to travel.
The moment you think you know everything about hospitality industry is the moment, you lose your competitive edge. The more I travel I am familiarised with local cuisines; I think that’s the best way. Top athletes continue to train and learn in order to improve, and smart professionals do the same and I am one of them.
Any noteworthy achievements in your career? Could you recall or flash your unforgettable moments?
I consider topping the premier Taj management trainee program in Indian cuisine specialization. I have started my own restaurant at 28 are my noteworthy achievements which I will never forget. My unforgettable moment was when I had people wait for an hour to eat at my restaurant on the first weekend of its opening.
Inspirational message for aspiring chef, especially lady?
There aren’t enough top female chefs and more needs to be done to help women get into higher positions in this industry… that will make a big difference. It is tough and changes at a snail’s pace. I would like to encourage more women to take up this profession if they feel cooking is truly something they love. A lot of people are nervous about cooking at home but I encourage everyone to make mistakes. Fall down, burn your socks, whatever so sooner or later you would be on the top of the world.
What is your ultimate goal?
Every individual has ultimate goal and always try to achieve it. I don’t particularly want to become a crazy Gordon Ramsay or Marco Pierre White, but to work for one of those crazy masterminds is my goal. My dream is to own a small Indian restaurant in New Zealand with French desserts. To help create the best food there is in the world and serve it at the highest quality there, is my ultimate goal.