It has been an interesting experience knowing Suprabhath RoyChoudhury, the F&B Director at the Holiday Inn New Delhi/Mayur Vihar, formerly the Executive Chef at Le Meridien, Gurgaon. A man who has donned many hats and now has taken management tasks to task. Here are a few questions he recently answered for Chef at Large readers giving us a sneak peak into what makes him tick.
Sid Khullar (SK): You’ve been a professional cook for the duration of your career until now, your last position being the Executive Chef at Le Meridien, Gurgaon. How has the experience been so far?
Suprabhath RoyChowdhury (SRC): I have been cooking professionally for the last 17 years. It has been my time working in some of the finest kitchens in India and overseas that prepared me for my current role. Every day in the kitchen has been an enriching experience and though it was never a childhood passion for me to cook, I cannot think of any other way in which I would have wanted to grow professionally.
SK: Why did you choose to shift to management, from the kitchen?
SRC: During my first industrial exposure in the hotels, I was very clear that it is the kitchens where I belong. I had a natural instinct which guided me all these years to excel in various facets of culinary management. However, with each passing year, as I grew in responsibilities, it became more and more difficult to spend real time in the kitchens and the job role involved more of the management tasks. It was hence a natural progression from kitchens to more generic food and beverage management.
SK: What’s the biggest difference you’ve found between wearing whites and wearing a suit?
SRC: The difference is only in the perception of the people we deal with from day to day. Being in food and beverage operations the passion and attitude required are more or less the same.
SK: When was the last time you actually professionally cooked? For whom?
SRC: It would be the New Year’s eve of 2017 when I last wore my chef’s whites professionally and cooked for the hotel guests.
SK: What would you like to be remembered for – culinary or management expertise?
SRC: Both. My culinary expertise is the reason, I am where I am, and my food and beverage management skills are going to take me where I want to be.
SK: What has been your biggest challenge in managing F&B thus far?
SRC: The biggest challenge in today’s time is the human resource. Skilled and passionate individuals are becoming a scarcity and an industry heavily dependent on the human touch like ours is facing the brunt of it.
SK: Would you rather visit a fine dining restaurant with a great wine list and view or spend the day with family in a park with home cooked food?
SRC: I would rather enjoy the best of both worlds. A luncheon at a park with home cooked meal followed by a fine wine dinner sounds like a plan…
SK: What’s the surest dish one can order from any 5-star kitchen and be assured of a great result?
SRC: The chef’s signature.
SK: Which is your all-time favourite dish?
SRC: Being an avid carnivore, a good piece of meat or seafood roasted, grilled, tandoori or fried in no particular order.
SK: A bowlful of what will make your forget the rigours of the day?
SRC: Mishti Doi.
SK: Which is your favourite restaurant in Delhi?
SRC: With so many restaurants opening every other day I usually don’t visit a restaurant more than once. However, the eateries at Purani Dilli would be an exception to this rule and I would happily eat there, at quite a few places, repeatedly.
SK: Who is your favourite Indian chef?
SRC: Though I have had quite a few mentors from the industry who have been an inspiration and a number of fellow chefs whose work I admire, naming favourites would be highly unfair.
SK: Sweet or savoury?
SRC: Little bit of both!!!
SK: Which do you think is the most underrated restaurant in Delhi. Why?
SRC: I can think of many overrated restaurants in Delhi but in a city known for its food and beverage and its foodies most restaurants get their fair share of patrons. However, a number of small restaurants fuelled by the operator’s passion can do better with a little more recognition.
Sid Khullar in conversation with Suprabhath RoyChoudhury.