Hav­ing a pas­sion for cook­ing is one thing but learn­ing the craft is another. How did you per­fect it?

Friday - - Leisure -

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.

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