An experienced chef from India sat down with me and shares his journey as a Chef and insights about the culinary and tourism industry.
Can you give our readers an introduction about yourself?
I started my hospitality career as a trainee in September 2004 with the Taj Group. From there I progressed to a Commis with Anantara Hotels & Resorts (Maldives); an opportunity that allowed me to work with a fantastic team of chefs and expand my culinary knowledge greatly. 3 years later, I moved to One & Only Reethi Rah (Maldives), and later on, I joined the pre-opening team of Seaside Finolhu (Maldives). In August 2019, I joined the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)’s flagship resort in the Maldives when I became part of the pre-opening team InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort.
- Why did you choose to work in the Maldives?
Early on in my career, I realized that the Maldives’ is the pinnacle of luxury tourism in South East Asia; evident in many of the world’s most luxurious brands on offer here. I knew that I would not just develop my culinary skills as the standards here are of the highest in the world, but I would have the opportunity to learn more about the hospitality industry as a whole and the privilege of working with some of the world’s most prestigious brands such as the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Soon after I arrived in this beautiful destination, it became my second home because of how open and warm the Maldivian people are.
My mother has always been the inspiration behind my culinary journey. For as long as I can remember, her cooking was full of love and joy and my fondest memories are of my family enjoying home-cooked meals together.Chef Deepesh K Jose
- Who was your inspiration to become a chef?
Without any hesitation, I can say that my mother has always been the inspiration behind my culinary journey. For as long as I can remember, her cooking was full of love and joy and my fondest memories are of my family enjoying home-cooked meals together. Her passion and devotion in cooking for her family have been what has continuously inspired me at every stage of my career and I ensure that I pour the same amount of dedication into my dishes today.
You have been working in the Maldives for a while now? How do you describe your experience in the Maldives?
There can be no greater destination to work than in the Maldives. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the world, but the one-island one-resort concept fosters amazing team spirit and you feel like you are working and living with an extended family from all parts of the world. Not only do we work together, we all learn and overcome challenges together as one team.
- So let’s say that you get to eat only one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
This is a hard question for me as a chef as I love many dishes, but given that I’ve been asked to choose “for the rest of my life”, I would definitely say it would be salads. Gone are the days when salads were bland and boring; now salads are not just of nutritional value but can be incredibly creative and we constantly see many talented chefs innovate and recreate old classics.
- Gastronomy is a top inspiration for travelers around the world, why should one visit the Maldives or Intercontinental for the culinary experience?
There is no doubt that you can enjoy fine dining in all parts of the world, but the Maldives’ offers not just global cuisine of the highest standards, but a total experience in terms of ambiance. Where else can you enjoy a gourmet picnic on an intimate sandbank or whilst you cruise around the atolls in a luxury yacht? We also have access to a wide array of the freshest seafood caught each day by local fishermen which in itself is an experience. The Maldives also attracts many renowned chefs from all around the world and the shared knowledge is what keeps our industry dynamic.
- I assume that being in the kitchen is always a challenge for every chef, what was most challenging throughout your career?
The challenges are divided between the creation and the cooking. The first has both culinary and commercial challenges, the second practical and technical challenges. From the culinary point of view, you need to experiment with flavors and textures to make the final product appetizing, delicious, balanced, and interesting. This involves choosing ingredients and techniques in their treatment that will make up a recipe. It requires a knowledge of these, to be able to predict how the different parts will work together, and how the final dish will be received. This also includes a presentation and how it will be eaten.
- What’s the happiest moment while being at work?
Making guests smile and providing “True Hospitality” is definitely what makes me happy; seeing them enjoy and appreciate what my team and I prepare makes all the hard work in the kitchen worth it.
- What’s the secret to become a successful chef?
There is no secret; it’s all down to hard work, being open to learning from your team, experimenting with new experiences, and each day working towards a common goal of making our guests happy.
- What would you say to the people who dream of becoming a great chef in the future?
One of my culinary inspirations – Chef Gordon Ramsey said “To become a great chef, you need to work with great chefs.” I have always believed this to be true as our culinary art cannot only be learned from a cookbook. You need to learn from the experiences of other chefs, you need to remain passionate and dedicated to perfect your art and you need to love what you.
- What is your favorite cuisine? How many different types of cuisine are you capable of producing?
I am well versed in many cuisines including modern Japanese, fine dining, South East Asian, Italian, Russian, Arabian, as well as special dietary cuisines (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-calorie, low-carb, and dairy-free meals) but what I truly enjoy is working fresh seasonal produce and creating unique dishes that blend unexpected flavor combinations.
- How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
As a chef, I never compromise on the quality of the ingredients used as this will greatly impact a guest’s dining experience. My team and I are personally involved when it comes to the sourcing of products for t and when working with new ingredients or suppliers, I always ensure that a proper food tasting is conducted before we introduce the items to the menu.
- What qualities do you believe make a good chef?
I believe chefs are artists and to make great art come to life, you need to be passionate and dedicated, be open to experimenting and taking risks, and most importantly, you need be an active listener when it comes to the preferences of your guests. It is also very important for me that I share my experiences with my team and nurture their talent and aspirations and help them on their journey as many great chefs have helped me in the past.
- Do you have any experience with food and wine pairings?
Over the years in the Maldives, I’ve hosted many events where our menus were paired with fine wines and these are experiences we regularly offer at the InterContinental Maldives as our certified Wine Sommelier and the Culinary team work very closely with each other.
- What is your proudest moment as a chef?
I’ve had many memorable personal achievements over my career, however, over the past year I have been incredibly proud to be a member of the IHG family. The team at the InterContinental Maldives all came together and have done an incredible job in welcoming our guests with new normal travel measures in place without compromising on the guest experience. Seeing how happy our guests have been over the past few months and reading their appreciation of our efforts has no doubt been one of the proudest moments for me.