An experienced and award-winning Chef from India sat down with me and shares his journey as a Chef and insights into the culinary industry
Can you give our readers an introduction about yourself?
I am Tarique Aziz, Executive Chef of Noku Maldives Resort & Spa. I was born and raised in “The City of Joy”, Kolkata, India. I was in the science stream in higher secondary as my father wanted me to be an engineer like most of my family members. But, my interest was in culinary and I pursued my dream by enrolling in a hotel management school to major in Hotel Management, Catering Technology, and Applied Nutrition.
Upon graduation, my first culinary journey was at Le Meridien Hotel, Bangalore in 2006. I started as a kitchen executive trainee (K.E.T) and was promoted to Chef De Partie after 2 years of hard work. During this time, I had the opportunity to work alongside 2 Michelin Star chefs – Daniel Chambon renowned in French cuisine, and Chef Botrini in Italian Cuisine.
I took a leap into my first overseas stint at the Cove Rotana Resort and Spa Res Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. I was part of the pre-opening hotel team and gained lots of culinary insights. I continued to undertake more roles in different hotels and resorts from Sous Chef De Cuisine, Executive Sous Chef, Executive Chef De Cuisine, and as Executive Chef in hotels in U.A.E, Seychelles, Doha, Saudi Arabia, West Africa Gambia, now the Executive Chef of Noku Maldives.
I’m an honorary member of various culinary associations and have been awarded several recognitions during my tenure in the middle east and the memberships. Some of them include:
- Sr. Member of Saudi Arabian Chefs Table Circle and the member of Chef’s WACS (World Association of Chef Societies).
- The Diploma in Culinary Excellence from World Master Chefs Society
- Sr. Member of Arab Chef’s Federation and Member of World Master Chef’s Association.
- Member of South India Culinary Association (SICA) under Indian Federation Culinary Association (IFCA).
- The certificate was awarded by the Association of the Emirates Culinary guild for Five – Course Gourmet Dinner Menu at The Emirates Salon Culinary – Dubai 2010.
- Special Certificate of Achievement from The Cove Rotana Hotel, has successfully awarded with a Gold Medal in the category Five – Course Gourmet Dinner Menu 2010.
- Special certificate in recognition of contribution to the successful opening of The Cove Rotana Resort – Ras Al Khaimah.
- Spice Market (W Doha Hotel) was named Best Restaurant in Doha at the BBC Good Food Middle East Awards in 2014.
My proudest moment was being part of the culinary team to cook for His Highness Ameri Diwan, Prince al Thani in Doha, and His Highness Prince Fahad Al Saud in Riyad Saudi Arabia dinner events.Chef Tarique Aziz
Why did you choose to work in the Maldives?
The Maldives is one of the finest locations in the world when it comes to hospitality and it is indeed the fastest gaining popularity among people across the globe. The Maldives boasts many luxury brands in hospitality. I want to work and align myself with the best and enhance my culinary skills and capabilities.
Who was your inspiration to become a chef?
My father was my inspiration. When my mother started losing her vision, my father helped with the cooking alongside my mother in the kitchen. I developed a love and passion for cooking by watching him in the kitchen preparing meals for the family. Celebrity & Michelin Star chef Marco Pierre White and Chef Vijay Bhaskarana, Vice president of the IFCA association also inspired me on this journey.
You have been working in the Maldives for a while now? How do you describe your experience in the Maldives?
The experience has been great. The vast exposure to such a huge diversity of guests has enabled me to understand the different tastes of different people who are coming to Noku Maldives. I am glad that I am able to live up to their expectations by providing them my finest culinary creations.
So let’s say that you get to eat only one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I can eat biryani every day! I love the flavors and aroma of the dish, especially mutton biryani.
It tastes better the next day when the meat and spices are infused overnight.
Gastronomy is a top inspiration for travelers around the world, why should one visit the Maldives or Noku for the culinary experience?
In Noku Maldives, we serve food inspired by the French & Western styles of cooking and dishes. Also, we serve dishes featuring the elements of Maldivian, Thai, Japanese, and Singaporean cuisine.
I assume that being in the kitchen is always a challenge for every chef, what was most challenging throughout your career?
Living up to guest expectations and creating memorable dishes.
What’s the happiest moment while being at work?
To see the smile on our guests’ faces and the admiration they have for our food prepared by my team and myself makes me happy.
What’s the secret to becoming a successful chef?
It is all having the passion, the determination to excel in whatever we do.
What would you say to the people who dream of becoming a great chef in the future?
I would like to tell them that passion, dedication in their work, and positive attitude will put them on the path towards being a successful Chef.
What is your favorite cuisine? How many different types of cuisine are you capable of producing?
My favorite is modern & classic French cuisine. In my culinary journey, I have cooked Italian, Mediterranean, Arabic, Indian & molecular cuisines as well.
How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
Ingredients are the building blocks of whatever we create and have to be of good quality. We always do stringent checks on all the ingredients we receive and ensure they are in good condition and quality.
What qualities do you believe make a good chef?
Apart from dedication, determination, smart working, hunger to learn, a good chef’s creation must please the senses of aroma, presentation, taste consistently.
Do you have any experience with food and wine pairings?
Yes, we did the food and wine pairing for our Valentine’s day menu at Noku Maldives. We paired every course with a suitable wine from a wide range of wine menu.
What is your proudest moment as a chef?
My proudest moment was being part of the culinary team to cook for His Highness Ameri Diwan, Prince al Thani in Doha, and His Highness Prince Fahad Al Saud in Riyad Saudi Arabia dinner events.