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CategoriesClean Eating Pioneers

Clean Eating Pioneer #1 – Chef Sourav

Stories.

What can I say, they have the power to transform the world! And I know a person who thinks alike and also happens to be our very first guest chef! 

Introducing a new campaign! “Clean Eating Pioneers”

In this collection of blogs, we will be interviewing professional chefs from all over and speak to them about everything from their work, passion and a little about their personal lives. Today we are beyond thrilled to bring you the story of Chef Saurav Kumar DeyHead chef, Toscano, Chennai.

Chef Saurav was stock-taking at the time we arrived, the sun was low and we sat at the outdoor section, where we settled down for the interview. 

 

A Bengali from a middle-class family, Chef Saurav hails from Kolkata. His father was in government service and his mother, a homemaker.

 

He said he wasn’t sure exactly how he came into the profession, but it was a 4-year process with a lot of struggles, but as soon as the first 4 years had passed he accepted it. He began enjoying the process a little bit at a time. He did his schooling in IHM Calcutta and his training in Taj Bengal, Calcutta. A year and a half he started working for a cruise line, The Royal Caribbean International. He started there as a Commie and that is where he learned all the rules of the game! After his 7 and a half years on the cruise liner he became the executive sous chef, and after that he returned home to get married.

Fortunately, his wife was also from the same background, and both of them had a job in the same hotel in Port Blair. He spent about a year and a half there and eventually moved to Toscano, Bangalore and then to Toscano, Chennai! So far this has been his journey! He’s travelled around half the world – all of Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, “and the rest is yet to be seen!” he said. At which part he offered us some homemade cookies and some coffee which were much needed at the time!

What made you become a chef?

He said 

“Practically speaking it was someone’s advice” 

When he was doing his training in Taj at the banquets, he was very young and his cousin brother was a veteran at Taj who was always watching Saurav’s performance. Chef Saurav thought that his cousin had been a manager for a long time and him looking out for Saurav and giving him crucial advice meant a lot.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

He spontaneously said 

“HECTIC. Especially during weekends!”

He usually wakes up in the morning has some tea then get to work by 10, walks the whole perimeter of the restaurant, the back, staff changing room, etc, because the entire back of the house comes under his observation, from one end to another, whatever we cannot see comes under his job description, and this takes him about an hour! Tasting is a big part of his day. There are some special and important dishes in the kitchen that he has to taste every day to maintain the quality of the food and service at his restaurant. By noon he and his team have their daily briefing and at 12:30 pm the lunch crowd starts which then goes on until about 3:30 pm – 4 pm. Post lunch they take the time to check stock and place orders to replenish whatever is needed. Right after that the dinner rush comes and the day ends around 11 pm!

What is a dish that you cook that you’re most proud of?

There was a brief pause, Chef looked lost, and after about a minute or so, all he could muster up was

“I’ve never thought of that”

There was another brief pause, and then 

“There’s no particular dish as such!”

He said when he realized how serious this business was and said it was no funny business, that someone is going to be paying for what he cooks, when he realized that everything was a lot different after that where every ingredient that he used in the dish, quantity and quality, it all became very serious! If the customer who ate the food was satisfied, he was proud. He said “Something is going on in their head when they eat my food, and at the same time something is going on in my head too! For example when there’s a new dish,I think of a mushroom served in a particular way, does the person consuming the mushroom think of it the same way? Is he able to read my intentions of the dish or not?”

What is one dish that you struggle to make?

He said,

“That would be my cuisine! Indian cuisine, or better yet, Bengali food”

Whenever he tried to make something that he had some 10-15 years ago, he could never make it right, and that frustrated him a lot! “I may have had the same dish in some of my aunt’s houses and when I think I have to recreate that dish, it’s just impossible, with my cooking I can usually give a no show explanation like this is a Caprese salad and no matter what anyone says I know its Caprese salad! But when it comes to my cuisine, everyone has a lot to say about it, especially my aunts who point out that this is not how you make it and I too know I cannot match that level of mastery.A professional kitchen is entirely different from a home kitchen, and that’s why everyone says that the best chefs are our moms. Because whatever we do, we can never beat them.”

If you could have dinner with one famous chef from history, who would it be?

Without hesitation,

“Heston Blumenthal!

His way of cooking, his approach to modern cooking is very different. He has a book called ‘Fat Duck Cookery’ and a restaurant called ‘The Fat Duck’ and his book opened my mind in a lot of ways, as if some scientist was doing some experiment in the kitchen. Heston is a British chef, and his style is to take ancient recipes, modernize them and present them in fresher ways as if they were deconstructed and reconstructed all over again making it feel like something entirely new! And I feel like he has influenced me the most in the last few years. After his book I read a lot of similar books and found that it was a refreshing approach to the modern-day culinary line.”

Good observation! I checked, that’s exactly what he does!

If you could live in any other city, which would it be and how would it influence your cooking?

“Honestly, I want to be in my hometown. if I ever got a chance to be a chef in Calcutta. I’d take Heston Blumenthal’s approach and try to reconstruct my Bengali food! And I don’t know if it’ll ever be successful or not but I would love to try it out someday!”

It’s been in his heart for a very long time! He wanted to live in his home, where he grew up and where his friends were! In the last 15 years with all that traveling, he said he couldn’t believe that he didn’t have a single friend because he was constantly moving around and every friendship he made through his journey was brief because they knew it was for a short while! And that’s one thing he misses the most!

What is your earliest memory of food?

His most vivid memory was one flavour that you and I could have never gotten right, it’s customary to be reserved and isolated for a while, eat some simple boiled food made on a wood fire when an elder in the family passes away, “A very striking memory” he said that stayed with him. The elders of his family used to fast during the day, eat fruits and yogurt and other simple stuff, and the kids used to eat some simple rice, it was boiled rice with potato, other vegetables, and a whole lot of ghee. His aunt used to serve them some rice on a banana leaf. It was a very powerful memory that stayed with him throughout! There was little to no spice, even the salt was very coarse and yet he couldn’t forget that smell, just rice ghee and wood smoke made in an earthen pot.

 

He then said, “This is something I’ve never revealed to anyone only because no one asks me these things and so I never think about it.”

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I wanted to be a writer”

he said “I was a very reserved child, not very enthusiastic, the world of writers, books, and poets was fed to me by my uncle, he used to give me books after books and when I finished them I kept getting more! Until this day I’m grateful for him to create that book hunger and thought that the world of books was beautiful! Some of my friends in college and I even started a little magazine in Bengali, which wasn’t so successful but we managed to publish two or three issues but then all of us dispersed after college and couldn’t continue it! But I know one thing that one day I will write again! I appreciate the writing community, but if you ask specifically, I fondly appreciate the magic-realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it’s very unique as a novel! Or someone like Milan Kundera!”

What do you distinctly remember about your first day of college?

He said,

“My school was very nearby, almost walking distance but college was in a different city. The first thing I remember is me complaining that college was so far away, classes started at 9 in the morning so I had to get up at 4, take an auto the train station, take a train to one station, take another train and again take a bus to college. It wasn’t like I had to do this once or twice, I had to do this every day! I lived in the northern part of Calcutta and college was in the southern tip. And that was the first impression, that it was so far!”

I was curious to know Which teacher had the greatest impact on him and why?

He said, That would be his uncle, he used to take English classes from him, he was like a private tutor, at the period in time it was like a coaching centre, Saurav used to go there and mingle with everyone, seniors, juniors and all! Until class 10 he used to learn literature from his uncle. He said he was never a favourite student of any teacher, he wasn’t a backbencher maybe a mid-bencher, just an average student

 

It had already been an hour since I had started asking him questions, but he seemed very accommodating and very patiently sat and answered everything. I asked him “What was the happiest day of your life?”

He immediately said” When my daughter was born! I still can’t believe that I’m a father! When I was off at sea, I used to call my parents every time we reached a port, and I’d speak to them for 45 mins or so, and when it was time to go my father would ask me to stay for a bit longer, even though we had spoken about everything and had nothing to say he’d still insist on me just staying on the line. I used to find it weird but he used to tell me when I become a father I’d know what it felt like and now I can say I do! I then asked him “How would you like people to remember you?”

And without hesitation “As the best father!”.

If they made a movie of your life story… would it sell?

He said

I’d like to think so, yes!  There’s a lot of drama, emotion, masala, broken hearts, love affairs not only here, but around the world back when I used to travel! But at the end of the day, I need to come home to my family – my wife, child and parents! That’s where I find true happiness, and that’s what my life is about!

CategoriesRecipes Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch #1

Featuring Chef Payal

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO OUR MASCOT, MASCOT!

The mascot is here to speak to us about everything clean eating and listen to all your queries about everything clean eating!

And today! Mascot says,

T’was a cloudy Sunday morning when I couldn’t get out of bed, it’s tough to wake up! Let alone wake up on a Sunday morning and satiate the hangry monster growling inside me! After a struggle and a half, when I composed myself and seemed to have straightened out all the creases, cooking brunch seemed like a decent idea, but little did I know that it wasn’t just a decent idea!

Without a doubt, I can say that the brunch was one of the most fulfilling meals of the week and no one can convince me otherwise! I have to share this with the world and I have to tell you, cooking a meal is more comforting than that meal itself! Wearing my lazy cozy Sunday clothes sauntering around the kitchen while picking ingredients that you and I don’t think too much about is the first step. Making the most of what we have at home is what a simply effortless meal is all about, you know what I mean! Although it does come down to the mindset with which you enter the kitchen and I know a lot of people who don’t enjoy cooking, listen here “a lot of people”, give it a shot!

Let’s circle back to what’s important now, shall we?

SUNDAY BRUNCH is a series where a bunch of professional and home chefs curate simple meals using our wholesome, clean produce, just so they can help me share with you the feeling of a comfortable meal! And for this week, we have…

Chef Payal


With an inspiring experience in the food industry, She has curated two amazing dishes for this week’s brunch! 

We sent her a little goodie bag of some produce a little bit shy of some ZEST! And well, what can I say except…  

Only if I were lucky enough to get my hands on some of her food! 

Thank you, Payal for these two amazing ideas! 

Now I am off to get some fresh produce, and I’ll leave you with her two ideas and a list of ingredients!

The first dish would be:


Louisiana Creole Style Jambalaya

A Creole and Cajun rice dish of West African, French, and Spanish influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 100 g chicken sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 100 g boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 small yellow diced bell pepper
  • 1 small red diced bell pepper
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 4 cloves minced garlic, 
  • 200g crushed tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup thinly sliced ladies finger
  • 1/2 cups uncooked white rice (preferably short grain)
  • 3 cups chicken broth

  • Sliced green onions to garnish

  • Pepper to taste

  • 100 g peeled and deveined raw shrimp/prawns, tails on, 

Mascot’s Method:

  1. Smoke some olive oil in a frying pan and add in the peppers, celery, and garlic.
  2. Once the garlic is golden and fragrant, add in the crushed tomatoes, salt, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ladies finger.
  3. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil, wait until the oil floats to the top, that’s when you know that your tomatoes have cooked.
  4. Add in your chicken broth and your uncooked rice, and cook at sim until the rice is cooked!
  5. In another pan, toss your shrimps with a little butter and pepper, for about two minutes on each side until shrimps are cooked thoroughly. 
  6. Add the shrimps to your rice and combine thoroughly. Add some more pepper to taste. 

“Stir-fried ground pork with bok choy and Thai basil” 

It is a straightforward dish that pairs well with some simple white rice! For this recipe, I’m going to leave you with your imagination! Go on! Cook away and don’t feel shy to send us some pictures of your lovely masterpieces and don’t forget to tag us. #sustenanceindia #sundaybrunch

 

 

Signing off! 

MASCOT

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