Though passionate about food, Chef Sandeep Saini never dreamt of becoming a chef. Instead he wanted to join defence. But call it a destiny or sheer luck, he ended up in a profession that he had a passion for since his childhood. The Pastry-Sous Chef at Westin Sohna shares with the TravelRasoi Team his experiences in the industry and how he took the challenges in his stride to groom himself for the profession of a chef –
When did the idea of becoming a chef come to you?
I remember since my childhood I was very interested in cooking, though I did not have any idea about the profession of a chef. I always wanted to join defence but destiny had some other plans for me. Cooking has been my passion since a very young age and I never let go of this dream.
When and where did you start your career?
I started my career with the Oberoi Group and joined Jaipur Trident in the year 2004. I started as a pastry chef and I worked for 4 years with the Group, 2 years for Jaipur Trident and 2 years for Gurgaon Trident. I then shifted to Surajkund Claridges Hotel where I again worked for 2 years. After that I joined Westin Gurgaon in 2011. So it’s been almost 6 years that I have been working for the Westin Group, 1 and a half year with Westin Gurgaon and the rest of the time with Westin Sohna.
How has been the journey so far?
It was an excellent journey. F&B is such kind of an industry that throws up lot of challenges. Every day is a new day for you – you meet new people, you cater to their F&B requirements and also fulfil them. I would not say I have met too many challenges because every day has been a learning experience for me. It’s just that you have to keep yourself abreast with the new F&B trends in the market and understand the global market well. Most importantly you should know what you are serving to your clients.
What are the best memories that you still cherish at Westin?
The best memories for me have been the guest compliments I have received; whenever they come they write about the food. That’s the best feeling for a chef, when your guest compliments you for your dish. I still remember when in the pre opening team of Westin, I prepared a cake and it was complimented by both the Executive Chef and the General Manager. Everyone has been very supportive and I really enjoyed working and learning under their tutelage.
How big is your team here?
I now run a team of 30 people at Westin Sohna; there are chefs for all the sections, like there is an Indian chef who takes care of the Indian food, then there is a separate chef for the coffee shop and so on.
What is the message you would like to give to the budding chefs who are starting new in the industry?
Keep the things simple and do not bring too much of complications in whatever dish you prepare. But yes, whatever you do, you do it from your heart. That’s the simple mantra I follow.
What is your favourite ‘ghar ka khana’? Do you cook at home for your family?
My favourite is dal-chawal. Yes I of course I cook for my 5 year son and wife, whenever I am at home and not busy in any other work.
What is your signature dish?
My signature dish is the Chocolate Bar.
CHOCOLATE BAR BASE
|Dark Chocolate||150 gm|
|Praline Paste||800 gm|
|French crunch biscuit||800 gm|
- Melt chocolate. Mix in praline paste. Fold in French crunch biscuit.
- Spread onto sheet evenly and chill.
|Dark Chocolate||1500 gm|
|Unsalted butter||150 gm|
- Boil cream , glucose and butter
- Pour over the chocolate , little by little
- Homogenize with a blender and pour over the base (once cooled )
– Samrita / Anjali