Taj Dubai’s exec. chef Vikas Malhotra
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
My love for food is what inspired me to get into the hospitality industry.
HOW HAS YOUR PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE HELPED YOU TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
I have been fortunate to work at some of the most exquisite Taj properties across the world, such as Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, Fort Aguada Beach Resort in Goa, and Taj Maldives. The foundation of my career was built at the most prestigious hotel of them all: the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. I have learned to adapt to people from different cultures and make the best use of local produce. Considering the cultural diversity of both guests and colleagues, I plan menus and themes to suit the market. An mportant lesson I have learnt is that copy-paste formulae will not work across all destinations.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY STAND-OUT EVENTS OR MOMENTS WHICH HAVE SHAPED YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
One moment when I got an opportunity to work with Anton Mossman, Michelin star chef from London, during my tenure at Taj Mahal Mumbai. He inspired me with his techniques and the international flair. Another one was when Chinese master chef Pius Lo instilled in me the love for Oriental food, leading me to specialise in Oriental cuisine.
WHICH HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO WORK. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
Each location comes with its own advantages and challenges, and the fun lies in overcoming those challenges. If I had to pick one, it would be Taj Maldives because the location allows you to customise surreal experiences for guests. I remember creating a buffet for New Year’s Eve in the middle of the water. For this, I had to check the tide at different times every day for a month. It’s been a month since I arrived in Dubai, and I can already see that the culinary scene here is highly evolved. I’m sure I will have the opportunity to create some stand-out journeys for my guests here too.
WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS SO FAR?
Successfully managing St James Court in London, host hotel for the 2012 Olympics. We hosted all the teams and officials participating and since they came from all around the globe, we had to adapt our meals to cater to their dietary requirements and preferences.
IN WHAT WAYS ARE YOU PLANNING TO ADD TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR NEW HOTEL?
My primary goal is to add value to each restaurant in the form of taste and presentation techniques that will pleasantly surprise our guests.
WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR NEW POSITION ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
I am most excited about being a part of Dubai’s highly competitive food and beverage industry.
ARE YOU PLANNING ANY NEW INITIATIVES OR PROGRAMMES IN YOUR NEW ROLE?
We recently launched the Eloquent Elephant Terrace, a lovely outdoor area with views of the Burj Khalifa. There are some highly innovative theme nights currently available through the week at this popular gastropub, and there is more to come. Also, at Bombay Brasserie, we have launched an Art Lunch every Saturday where guests can experience regional cuisines of India, along with art and music.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE OPERATION AT YOUR NEW HOTEL CAN BE IMPROVED ?
It is too early for me to comment on this as the hotel has a great F&B reputation. Having said that, we would like to be the preferred option for our guests in Dubai and our strategies will be aimed towards that.
Vikas Milhoutra, executive chef, Taj Dubai.