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EXECUTIVE CHEF ANURUDH KHANNA

Jasmeen Dugal  (click here to know more about this blogger)

"Some years ago I was inspired by a quote that still drives me today: 'The road to success is always under construction' says Anurudh Khanna, Multi-Property Executive Chef, The Westin Gurgaon and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa. "If I was a teen again I would try to become a fighter pilot, but being a chef is so in me that I cannot think of myself in any other profession today. The only advice I would have for my younger self is to have enjoyed life more by traveling, pursuing my passion of photography, and making memories." Meet the culinary master who has been awarded 'Culinary Leader of the Year Award 2014 By Starwood South Asia' and 'Most Innovative Chef of the Year 2018' by BBC Food.

 

"I always wanted to fly for the country, inspired by my grandfather in my early age, but somehow could not make it. But as they say, one does find his or her true calling, which in my case is the kitchen. I grew up watching my mom put genuine love into her cooking and am very grateful for her role and influence in my cooking. The foundation she gave me was so solid I developed a perception of love and language through food. I wanted to be completely involved with food, from eating and evolving to creating to watching the joy that food bring to other people. Food makes people happy and good food makes people really happy! There aren't many other jobs where you get to make people happy every day. A plate of food may be small but it can play a huge part in people's lives. Very few professions compare with that of a chef. It is hard work for sure and the hours can be long and meticulous, but there really is nothing that can match the thrill that working in a kitchen gives you, and the opportunities. So, it all started from the sincere love of food from my mom's kitchen as nothing compares to the pleasure her meals give me. I try my best to share this love of food, whether through my cooking, or through my stories, so others can be inspired to embark on this journey. Mine began at IHM Shimla Kufri. It was extremely memorable. The scenic college campus amongst the dense forest range was beautiful. I have vivid memories of how we used to survive the extreme winters when the temperature was -10 degrees; upon opening the doors in the month of January it was completely under a white blanket of snow and the fun of activities like making snowmen with friends, is invaluable. The budding photographer in me came to life during those days!!

 

That said, I do have a mentor — Chef Amit Chowdhury who is currently Executive Chef at Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, Mumbai. His guidance, tips and strength gave me a lot of inspiration and he has truly been an important part of my transformation from a small chef in a kitchen to Executive Chef, having mentored and trained me for over eight years. My cooking style is based on the language that my ingredients speak — I make them a hero in my recipes. I believe in minimalist cooking and believe in serving the ingredients in their best form; am also not afraid to blend cuisines across cultures together and recreate a recipe. Something simple and rustic, with the right flavors, can be the best dish in the world! That said, it is difficult to keep diners engaged. In the recent past, I have done menus that were in trend, plant-based dinners promoting clean eating and curating menus in the farm where guests pluck their own veggies. I love to promote clean vegetarian cuisine, mono chromatic dinners and dinners with floating food… but the essence of these dinners has been clean honest cuisine with a story behind the cuisine and the ones involved in it. It is not just food these days; it is the way a complete meal can be crafted as a story and an experience that a guest really enjoy — we have plans to do a lot of these at The Westin Sohna Resort And Spa.

 

Speaking of my role at The Westin Gurgaon and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa, the core focus will be to fortify my experience of luxury hotels and bring about a refreshing change in the culinary scene that keep guests intrigued and coming back. I aim to infuse new energy in culinary operations by getting the cuisine masters to cook inventive global cuisine in EEST, Prego and Xiao-Chi. For The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa, the focus will be to give a strong local, sustainable dimension to cuisine, using the expertise of our Expat chefs, who will work very closely with the team to develop recipes that have authentic flavors — with ingredients sourced locally and plucked from our farms. The idea for The Westin Gurgaon will be to make it a global cuisine destination with gourmet ingredients from across the world to be used in the recipes. That said, I also intend to position our event spaces or banquets as theatre kitchens offering global cuisine. And, source quality sustainable ingredients to be used at both hotels astride training the teams to become world-class culinarians. With years of experience behind me i.e. around 10 years of executive chef exposure I do not feel there are any challenges as such. But, if I were to cite one, it is finding young enthusiasts who truly understand the determination and dedication that comes with a culinary role.

 

Personally speaking, there are several milestones in my career but a few hold a special place in my heart. My first award came at quite a young age where I was recognised at the Asia Pacific level so that remains close to me. One of my proudest moments was when I got the opportunity to represent the country at Stockholm, Sweden. We cooked a formal state sit down dinner for four hundred people, showcasing our rich cuisine culture during a Presidential visit by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in 2015..."
 

Westin
Anurudh Khanna, Multi-Property Executive Chef, The Westin Gurgaon and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa
 
08-JUNE-2019
 
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