What makes a good chef

Our choice of Chef Michael Swamy was because he is not just a chef but also a photographer, and also likes to speak about how he reached the top position in this profession. Needless to add that he has received several awards from numerous places around the world for his extraordinary skills. As he is passionately fond of being in the wild and in mountain resorts, Chef Michael Swamy has designed special menus for resorts in several tourist spots, such as the Jungle Retreat in Corbett and at a resort in Dhanachuli in Uttarakhand, among others, where he has cooked and served foods prepared from ingredients gathered from the wild.

  1. What made you decide to become a chef?

I always wanted to get into food media. Studying to be a chef was in order to give my profession credibility.

  1. Where did you train to become a chef? How long did it take you, before you became a chef?

Studied Hotel Management in India, then did an MBA and then studied at Le Cordon Bleu in London. After about 5 years of working in various sectors of the Hospitality in the industry I became a sous chef and then about 3 years later corporate chef for a chain of restuarants we opened.

  1. How can you inspire others, specially children , to become chefs?

Children are inspired by their parents into the world of becoming chefs. Introducing them to food and its culture and by experimenting and visiting various establishments is one of the best ways of introducing them to the world of food.

  1. What qualities does one require, if one wants to be a chef?

Patience, dedication and skill and above all a sense for perfection

  1. With so much food around you to choose from, what kind of food do you like to make for yourself and your family?

Mediterranean cuisine and South American cuisine is what I cook at home.

  1. What do you do, so that you do not become fat?

Eating healthy, avoiding Sugar Milk, and and Flour, paired with exercise

  1. What is the most challenging dish that you have prepared?

Croquembouche and a wellington

  1. Have you prepared something unusual demanded by some guest?

Several times, and it’s quite fun when guests ask for something new and interesting and have a genuine love for experimentation. But in order to do this one has to know one’s flavours and culinary techniques.

  1. What in your opinion is easier: cooking the dish, plating the dish, managing the staff in the kitchen?

Cooking is easier. Handling staff is difficult and not something that’s taught and it’s something you learn on the job. Being a chef is more about handling a kitchen and everything in it than just cooking.

  1. How do you deal with an angry and dissatisfied guest?

A dissatisfied guest is one who has come with a certain expectation and when this is not met they get upset. We train our staff that our guests are paying for a meal. A well trained staff leads to a quiet kitchen where everyone knows what they are doing. The FnB staff explain to guests in advance about the food and time it will take to prepare. So when you anticipate and tell them in advance it avoids confusion.

  1. How important is hygiene, fresh ingredients and locally sourced ingredients to your cooking?

It’s very important to have all these factors in one’s cooking. End of the day the client is paying good money and expects and deserves good food for it.

  1. How would you like to inspire young chefs? Please give them a one-liner about what they should be doing to be a good chef in future.

Study hard, experiment and learn the art of perfection

  1. You have travelled to several places. Can you name the national food of any country which you have prepared/ enjoyed/would like to try….

I love making ceviches from South America and a few pasta dishes from Italy

  1. How useful are Master Chef programmes for children?

They give a false impression of the culinary world and also people think that participants in a show makes one an instant chef. Many of the participants and winners of these shows don’t even know how to cook and wont last a day in a professional kitchen.

  1. With increased digitisation, what changes do you envisage, in your profession?

Food is a very hands-on thing. The love that goes into cooking is what makes it special.


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