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Chef Raji - A Celebrity Indian Chef

Chef Raji- A Celebrity Indian Chef

Monday, April 8, 2019, 14:42 Hrs  [IST]

Cooking is not just work for Chef Raji, but also a passion which has propelled her to seek proficiency in various types of cuisine. An avid cook all her life, she started her gastronomic journey learning traditional Goan dishes and some baking at her home.
To gain a certified mastery over the subject, at the age of 36, Chef Raji enrolled herself at a reputed Culinary Academy in Mumbai. There she gained Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality (CTH) Level 2 certification. Later, in urge to expand her horizons further, she went to the Blue Elephant Cooking School in Thailand, to learn the art and science of Asian cooking.
Last year, Chef Raji went to the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, where she trained under Celebrity chefs Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Tim Allen and Rory O’Connell. Her time and training in Ireland gave her the expertise in European food and baking as well. Asmita Mukherjee spoke to Chef Raji to understand her journey as a Chef…

Q What led you to become a Chef ?
My early days helping my mother in the kitchen, making Kannada cuisine ,later spending summer holidays at my aunts place and cooking authentic recipes using local produce, and further took a dramatic turn when I got married. As the famous saying goes ‘Way to Man’s heart is through his stomach’. I finished my Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality (CTH) at Palate Culinary and took a trip to the famous Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School to learn Oriental Cuisine. A year later I went to Ballymaloe Cookery School, an institution on a 100 acre Organic Farm. Before I realised, this hobby of mine turned into a fruitful career, and what more can I ask for, a Career with Passion…

Q What have been your achievements as a Chef so far?
I enjoy the process of cooking and serving food. And every day my skills are upgrading to a next level of perfection. Every single step towards upgrading my skills is an achievement for me.

Q What is your signature recipe?
A recipe close to my heart is Breakfast Mug Cake. The recipe is very simple and can be a signature recipe of every millennial.

Q What are your views on culinary innovations?
When all is said and done, it’s all about the Food. Bringing Regional cuisines of India and plating them in modern form for the millennial consumer. Freshly prepared ingredients, sourced locally and in a manner that sustains aquatic and plant life. Innovating with traditional cooking techniques like Smoking, Grilling, Fermenting, Tempering (Vaghar). To me this is Culinary Innovations.

Q Do you feel that chef profiles are changing with market trends?
The millennial consumer has become very demanding. Their travels across the world, exposure to media and Food Shows keeps them salivating for different cuisines and flavours. This is a challenging situation for Chefs across the World.

Q Which type of cuisine do you like to prepare the most?
My top two favourites would be Goan and Modern European Cuisine.

Q What is your advice for upcoming chefs?
Stick to the basics, every cuisine has its own architecture, master that first and then innovate.

Q Your views on fusion food?
Fusion food is no new innovation or concept. For centuries human beings have fused different food cultures to create new ones and innovated to create new cuisines. The Kebabs of Turkey became the Souvlaki of Greece, Burek of Iran became the Samosa of India, Mughlai cuisine fused with Andhra cooking methods to give us Hyderabadi cuisine, world is full of examples. We will continuously keep fusing different cooking methods and different Ingredients to create Tasty Foods.

Q According to you, what are India’s prospects as a culinary tourism destination?
India is a Gastronomical’s delight, every 300 kms there is a new cuisine to discover. India has more to offer in culinary tourism than any other country in the world. With different cultures come different cuisines. And with ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ as a Code of Conduct, it gives immense pleasure to represent India on Culinary Platform.

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