Creativity, quality and accuracy are some of the major attributes that define a chef‘s challenging role. Chef Venecio Cadavida, a Japanese specialty chef at Dashanzi, JW Marriott in Juhu, Mumbai, spoke to FoodService India about the challenges of being a successful chef and what it takes to remain on top.
Take us through your culinary journey so far, the major milestones accomplished along the way and how they have shaped and influenced your career?
Being a chef is a fairly intricate and challenging profession: You need to have an eye for accuracy, quality and style. All of the three play a major role in your success as a chef, and you cannot afford to compromise on any of the three. When starting off a career as a chef, it is imperative to understand the importance of learning the basics from scratch. Over time, you keep perfecting the skills and adding to your repertoire. With experience comes innovation and creativity. My patience has brought me where I am today.
What kind of a food person are you? What do you think are your key strengths as a chef?
Basically, I love to experiment with food. However, I prefer going for smaller portions. I love Asian cuisine for its sheer variety. About strengths and weaknesses, I feel one should always be positive and bubbling with ideas, creativity and confidence in oneself. These are few strengths I feel I possess.
How would you articulate the role of a modern day chef? In your opinion, which are the hallmarks of a top-drawer professional chef?
I feel modern-day chefs need to concentrate equally on creativity, quality and detailing. These are the key factors that go into creating master dishes. Top order professional chefs keep honing and sharpening their skills because all ideas get old over time and you need to stay ahead of the curve. I think that chefs who are good at making use of the traditional techniques along with introducing a dash of modern touch with creative detailing and clever innovation in the preparation of traditional and classic recipes are the master professionals in their line of work.
What is the one thing that is going to change the way food will be promoted in future?
Art and creativity will come to the fore more prominently. Cooking a dish is a basic art, however giving it the right flavour is possible only by paying attention to the finer details. But giving it the right taste is possible only by using the right technique with detailing. In the coming days, people will experience new styles of food presentation, which will further lend character to a dish.
Which particular cuisines you focus on and how have you seen it evolve over the years?
My focus is Japanese cuisine; Japanese cuisine is very delicate and therefore requires slow-cooking techniques for the flavors to come off beautifully.
Can you offer us examples of some innovative F&B ideas that you have implemented?
Making vegetarian rolls from Nappa and Hakusai – known as Chinese cabbage – is my own innovation.
How do you envisage the evolving role of chefs?
Time definitely does dictate changes in the trends. In the case of food, it is even more so since people are always looking to experiment with new flavours, textures and cuisines in general.
What are your observations about the evolution and developments in fine dining?
Fine-dining has always had a niche set of loyalists. With the spending capacity of people getting augmented and coupled with an urge to experience new cuisines, the scope of fine-dining will widen and its horizons will expand further.
What do feel is the biggest challenge in your professional line?
As I said, being a chef is not an easy job. To be on top of your game, you have to continuously keep chasing your dreams.