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Chef Sidharth Sharma Corporate Chef, Saints N Sinners

Monday, October 14, 2019, 14:42 Hrs  [IST]

Chef Sidharth Sharma is a professional chef with more than two decades of experience with specialisation in training and standardising operational systems and procedures in commercial kitchens. Having started his chef career with the Taj Group, Chef Sharma grew up under the guidance of eminent chefs like Ananda Solomon. He also had a successful stint as a chef in luxury cruise ship in Florida. Coming back, he was involved in setting up more than 90 restaurants and hotels pan-India and abroad as a Chef Consultant. Later he joined Saints N Sinners as a full-time Corporate Chef. The revolving Sunday Brunch concept he introduced at the restaurant with 25+ dishes has become an instant hit with food lovers in Gurgaon and around. Hospitality Biz tried to understand his views on some of the F&B related issues.

Q What are your accomplishments as a chef? Who is your role model in the profession?
Having started my carrier with a reputed hotel chain like the Taj Group of Hotels, in a short span of three and half years, I was heading one of the most renowned restaurants of its times - The Tea House of the August Moon. I was also awarded bronze medal in the Taj Culinary Olympics (organised at an international level). It was at the Taj that I met Chef Ananda Solomon, who has been my constant source of inspiration.

Soon after this, I was heading one of the first standalone restaurants in Delhi NCR, which in itself was an excellent experience. Post this; I was called on board to work with one of the world's leading luxury cruise line in Florida as a chef, which exposed me to the highest standards of culinary experience and professional kitchen operations. Later, while I was freelancing and consulting, I helped more than 90 new restaurants to open their doors for guests in pan India and abroad. Saints and Sinners was one of the units done during that time and I guess a combination of authentic taste with the modern contemporary presentation was close to my heart, thus I planned to join them full-time.

Q Having grown through the ranks of acclaimed chain hotels, how do you distinguish working in the kitchens of big hotels and standalone restaurants?
While the kitchens of chain hotels and standalone restaurants are more or less the same these days in terms of infrastructure and setup, the major difference lies in the fact that the bread and butter of a standalone restaurant is the food and beverage business, while that might not be totally true for hotels. Restaurant kitchens have no option but to be more efficient and independent, have to continuously keep the wheel turning and have to be masters of multitasking. Smart resource management, efficient planning, continuous innovation are must for standalone restaurants.

Q There is a general thinking that big hotel kitchens do not allow chefs to be at their creative best. What is your take on it?
It is true up to an extent but for a reason. Most chain hotels also have a long chain of command, and changes take time to happen, the procedures are complicated. In the process, an individual's creativity might not get the exposure as desired. However, good chain hotels ensure good talent is given opportunity and a lot of internal trials and competitions are organised every now and then.

Things move faster in standalone, change is constant and a must here with the result creative skills are appreciated and promoted.

Q What are your views on Chefs-driven restaurants in comparison to general owner-driven restaurants?
Fortunately, in India there is not much of a difference as most of the owners in the field are very passionate about food and experience one gets at their outlets. Even in the majority of the owner-driven restaurants, Chefs have a major role to play and are continuously involved in the development of the place.

Q There is a lot of talk about sustainable food, healthy food, etc. How much attention you pay to these factors in your kitchen?
We all eat to stay fit. Health and hygiene are primary to my kitchen. Every ingredient selected has to be fresh and fit as per the high levels of standards set in my kitchen. While the best of the ingredients are being used in my kitchen, we have guilt-free food options on the menu also to help you enjoy what you eat. A special section of roasts and grills, besides other options, are specially done in the menu.

Q How can chefs make a difference in a crowded F&B market place to keep the loyalty quotient high?
Every hand (Chef) has his own signature taste; this is developed over a period of time and has to be consistent. The rest follows. Once a Chef is able to zero down to his guest's taste, people get addicted to it and come back to the same place for the dishes and taste.

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