Having a passion for cooking is one thing but learning the craft is another. How did you perfect it?
One is a chef by instinct and the other by education. One has honed his skills through observation, the other through interaction. One is classic and traditional, the other contemporary and unafraid. The two have come together to be the culinary visionaries at force in Ananta, the Indian restaurant at The Oberoi Dubai.
Master chef Rais Ahmed, who has spent more than four decades in the Middle East, understands how to cater to the region’s demographic diversity like no-one else. With him is chef de cuisine Saneesh K Varghese, who might be a new kid on the UAE’s food block but has spent many summers in international kitchens trying to come up with ways to give Indian food an elegant makeover.
The chefs tell Friday what spice and flavour mean to them: him in the kitchen and soon I was pursuing a career in food. Now I am teaching my wife to cook! Chef Rais: I belong to a time when chefs were reluctant to teach their juniors in the kitchen. They believed that cooking cannot be taught, it can only be learned through observation.
So, we juniors would stalk our seniors in the kitchen and constantly take note of what and how much went into each of the spice blends and preparations. It would take years of practice to learn the authentic way to prepare a particular dish. Chef Saneesh: I was lucky as my grandfather taught me the basics and then I went to a catering college, which helped me hone my skills. By the time I joined The Oberoi group, the culture in the kitchen had become professional and there was a lot of interaction between the chefs irrespective of the number of years they had worked in a commercial kitchen. We were allowed to give suggestions on what was on the menu, and what was served was a product of our combined efforts and vision.