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

Akanksha Dean is a rising star in the culinary corridor. She's Chef Manager of Imperfecto Shor Café. The hottest new all-hours Renaissance- themed cafe and weekend nightclub at Aerocity. And has an impressive resume — Culinary Arts at Institute of Hotel Management Aurangabad and internship at The Oberoi Gurgaon. While still completing her degree, she also worked as Culinary Voyager at JW Marriott Aerocity and a part as Culinary Researcher with TLF Magazine where she got the chance to travel in search of food and meet and interact with both local and legendary chefs. That's not all! She trained under Chef Massimo Bottura at the three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. Meet the twenty-three year old who is poised for stratospheric success.


''At a young age, I realized I didn't want to pursue any other profession! With my father being a chef and my mother being a food and travel writer, it is in my genes'' grinned the chef over cocktails and cuisine at Imperfecto Shor Café. ''My interest in culinary arts was ignited when I prepped Sunday meals with my father, Chef Bakshish Dean, and I learnt firsthand about different cuisines while travelling [across twenty- three countries] with my parents. Tasting churros in Barcelona, paella in Valencia or visiting the largest fresh produce market in Paris, for instance, gave me a fresh perspective and shaped my food philosophy. Travel is so much more than visiting a place. It is about immersing myself in different cultures, local food markets and cuisines. There is so much to learn!'' So, how did the internship with globally- acclaimed Chef Massimo Bottura happen, I ask her. ''I've been following him since Osteria Francescana received its three-Michelin star-rating in 2011 and I was keen to work with him. I read a lot, worked hours in the kitchen and then called up to check on the internship process. I emailed my application and was interviewed on the phone… and waited. Finally the moment I had been waiting for, arrived. I received confirmation, mom booked our tickets to Italy and dad got me sets of chef uniforms. They were overjoyed!!''

''There is a lot I brought back with me from the three- week internship. Chef Massimo is a visionary. He celebrates a balance of time- honoured culinary traditions, artistic vision and what the clientele wants.Under his tutelage, I put in a hundred per cent and disciplined myself; for instance, he insisted the kitchen must be cleaned after each dish is prepared and our knives must always be sharpened. He also encouraged us to be creative with ingredients. And, he ingrained in me the value of travel and reading, developing sportsmanship spirit and helping others. I follow all of this till date. At Osteria, everyone is equal. I worked alongside chefs from Canada, Mexico, Italy, Japan and Bangladesh; we cooked and cleaned together. As one big happy family! Back home, I got the opportunity to put my knowledge and training into practice when I began working with Nuria Rodriguez at Imperfecto Shor Café. The interiors, the cutlery and the cocktail and culinary production is Renaissance- themed while the food is simple and sumptuous. We focus on comfort- food, which I feel is the need of the hour.'' So, what are her plans for the future, I ask as we wrap up dinner. ''At Imperfecto Shor Café, I learnt to open and operate a restaurant. It's an invaluable experience. But my dream is to open a fine dining restaurant; that's my disciple.''

As I finished penning this interview, I couldn't help being in awe of how Akanksha Dean, at a young age, has put together her interdisciplinary experiences i.e. parents guidance, cultural travel and intensive training in the culinary arts. ''I want to continue learning and travelling whenever I get the opportunity because the more you travel, the more you cook, the more you realize you dont know so much'' she smiles and my heart warms to her.

Chef Akanksha Dean Chef Akanksha Dean



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