Avanish Jain, Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza Today Gurgaon, shares his thoughts and views on what it takes to be a successful chef and how he is exercising his ideas and creativity to crank up the food service appeal at his hotel
How would you describe your culinary journey?
Cooking was always my passion since childhood. I always used to ask my mother about different dishes and their preparation method. My passion brought me to do hotel management. After finishing my BHM, I started working in Goa, then came to Narendra Nagar near Rishikesh, went to Jaipur and from there I left to work abroad. Maldives was my first destination after which I moved to Qatar, UAE (Dubai), and have subsequently worked in the Philippines, Shanghai and Tokyo.
What is your approach to cooking?
Cooking is an “art and science of making healthy and tasty food”. One should always think of the health perspective of any dish and try to retain the nutritional value. That is why I am a firm believer of slow and covered cooking called “Dum Cooking”. Which are the dishes that you love to cook? I love Indian cuisine due to the varied ingredients. Apart from Indian, it is Thai and other Asian cuisines that fascinate me most. The aroma of
coconut milk, fragrance of galangal, lemon grass, Vietnamese mint is hard to shake off. I believe that Asian and Indian food is the future because Asia is the emerging economy of the future.
Tell us about the star attractions and offerings at your F&B outlets in Crowne Plaza Today Gurgaon?
Our refurbished multi-cuisine restaurant Café G was reopened in September 2015 and has emerged as the star outlet in terms of footfall, earning revenue, and the cuisines on offer. We have added a Japanese interactive kitchen in Café G together with live tepanyaki grill as a buffet offering. We have created seating around the counter where guests can sit and speak to the Japanese chef and order whatever they want. The revamping of the 24×7 lounge and bar Connexions and Wildfire with its award winning Brazillian menu will happen soon in order to make these places more customer friendly.
How do you ensure that food offerings at your F&B outlets remain contemporary with the times?
Constant feedback from the guests, menu engineering and current market trends keeps me updated about what to offer. There are times when customer themselves tell us about their requirements. We are very open to following up on such suggestions. If there is a good demand for making new changes, we embrace them in the spirit of hospitality without diluting the authenticity factor at the same time.
Which innovative F&B ideas have implemented in the past year and/or have plans to implement in 2016?
Keeping in mind the increasing volume of corporate business and international travelers at Crowne Plaza Today, I have created a healthy corner for breakfast where we offer seasonal fruits and vegetables, which can be eaten raw or pressed to juice. Gluten-free breads, eggless and sugerfree desserts during lunch and dinners are always part of the buffet. For 2016, I am creating a chef’s corner where dehydrated products will be showcased at our signature pastry shop.
What have you done to expand your F&B options?
Constant upgradation of the product, introducing healthy cuisines, giving a touch of personalised services to long stayers, organising different weekend activities help us to retain our customers. Taking these steps create word of mouth publicity, which ensures that our business keeps growing.
What do you think of the future of regional cuisines?
For me as long as a chef keeps providing healthy, quality and authentic food, any cuisine will rock irrespective of their place of origin.
What do you feel are the constant challenges?
Getting trained and experienced manpower is a major concern. We hire and train people but unfortunately when the time comes to get the output, they are poached by someone else.
What have been your major learnings as a chef?
Organising yourself well in advance is the most important thing I have learnt as a chef. Being a mentor, coach, trainer and a marketing personnel, I have learnt to be highly patient with the team as well as with clients. Being a chef is like walking a long journey, which teaches you many different aspects of life.