FOOD SAFETY AND CAREER GROWTH: By Khatibah Rehmat. 

GREAT CHEFS, GOOD FOOD with Retired Executive Chef AJAY SOOD_10.

REFT Today's interview conversation of Khatibah Rehmat and Retired Executive Chef Ajay Sood from Taj SATS—India, in it's Exclusive Talk Show—GREAT CHEFS, GOOD FOOD, and the topic is: FOOD SAFETY AND CAREER GROWTH:

1) Give an elaborated introduction of yourself to our viewers, stating all about your family, birthplace, education and long and beautiful journey of your career pre and post retirement.

Hello Dear Khatibah.

On the on set, my sincerest thanks to you for organising this live talk show with me.
Well, I have been in this industry for last 44 years working as a professional chef, having retired from Taj SATs flight catering six years back i.e. in the year 2013, but I have been attached to various organisations and trying to keep life busy and more active.

Born and brought up in the city of Bombay, I passed out from IHM Mumbai in 1976 and began my career with iconic Taj Mahal Hotel as a chef trainee and worked at golden dragon to start with. To follow up, I worked at few more places like Sun n Sand, Centaur, Natraj etc.

My wish of going globally made me opt of taking ship sailing as a catering officer for a short while. Though, life has it's own story, so one day I decided to come back to a shore-life and got into flight catering as a sous chef at Ambassadors—Oberoi and later joined Taj flight catering—Delhi. I spent twenty-eight big years in aviation catering which was a unique area of working and I enjoyed thoroughly.

I used to handle mass production for about 300 odd kitchen staff, producing about 22,000 meals daily, handling VVIP movements etc. There used to be a huge workload, plus attending food safety, HACCP etc. Thus, the journey had a break as I retired from Taj in 2013.

Then I continued as an independent consultant. Life has been an exciting voyage for me with no regrets. When I passed out from my college, there was hardly any mentorship and I wasn't too sure whether to go for Kitchen or to go to FnB services, but then looking at great personalities and their success stories, I decided to stick to food production and make complete career being a Chef.

Today, when I look back, I could see an excellent passage of my life. Though it was very hard working, time consuming, but full of passion and sincere dedication!

2) What precautions should entire food industry take during this pandemic situation and also how to spread it's awareness amongst the masses?

We are fully aware of this dire condition due to Covid-19, keeping utmost care and implementing the norms is a must. Initially, the food safety and food hygiene procedures need to be followed very strictly, ensuring safe and consumable food is supplied to all our guests at all times. But, more than that, the NEW NORMAL norms need to be followed with 100% compliance. Social distancing, using of marks, hand wash and sanitisation has to be planned in kitchen's SOPs and need to be followed with utmost care. We have to give assurance to all the guests that we are following all norms to the core. Every staff members need to be trained from time to time and should regularly be briefed with the dangers of Corona Virus and the precautions must be followed very strictly.

3) How to take youngsters towards natural and balanced meals and also keeping them away from junk foods?

It is a fact that those days have gone when we used to get pure and healthy food items. Today, people are consuming more of adulterated and bogus food, just because they are getting them conveniently with less effort. We must encourage to avoid all this.
Now, if we think of moving back to all those habits and choices of thirty to forty years back, where we used to get fresh materials from the farms, those were the best times. Though, getting things directly from the farmers may not be easy now, but one must try to get things at local level.

Fettuccine in Veloute, served with Potatoes, Tomatoes and fresh toasted bread.

Consume fresh leafy vegetables, fresh varieties of lentils and pulses. Also encourage to get balanced meals to improve immunity and self health. Discourage oneself from junk food rather, prepare our traditional snacks and authentic regional meals, children would surely love those classical stuffs.

4. What message  would you like to leave for hotel management students so that they may work on brightening their careers even in this tough situation?

 
It is a known fact that we are passing through very bad times, which no one would have ever dreamt of. We senior chefs are retired now, but actually feel pity and sorry for present generation and the youngsters who would be seeing the days tomorrow. Still, I would ask all of you to be positive and optimist, keep faith in the Almighty and very soon good days will return.

Getting jobs may not be that easy today, so grab the opportunities which comes your way, do not be choosy at this point of situation. Focus on doing something manual and gaining the knowledge and taking floor level experience. At the same time, try to improve your skills. Do some good on-line courses and sharpen yourselves to get ready for next level .

5) Chef, after getting retired from your job, what are you occupied with now a days?

Well, a chef never retires so, I just retired from active services of Taj SATS flight catering. Immediately got into my fresh innings as a consultant chef and joined companies like Sahara, Vatika, ODC as brand chef, etc. I am also attached to a company doing railway catering where I am involved in improving the standards of the meals, services and to improve the image of railway catering. We have even succeeded to a large extend. All work has come to a stand still because of this unfortunate virus issues and I am sure that this will fade out shortly. My warmest good wishes are with all the budding youngsters.

6) Chef, can you please share one of your favorite recipes with our viewers and readers?

CHEF AJAY SOOD: Yes sure, here it is:

SAFFRON FISH CAKES WITH SCALLION TARTARE AND COUNTRY WEDGE POTATOES:

SAFFRON FISH CAKES:

Salmon fish...................................500 gm
Saffron..........................................few strands
Ginger Chopped...........................10 gm
Onion chopped.............................50 gm
Bread trimmed..............................2 slices
Black pepper powder....................3 gm
Celery chopped.............................10 gm
Oil...................................................200 ml
Salt.................................................5 gm

Step 1. Poach the fish with saffron, celery, salt, ginger. Remove and roughly shred.

Step 2. Mix together shredded fish, soaked bread, onions and seasonings.mix well.

Step 3. Shape small portions into cake shape.

Step 4. Shallow fry on a hot griddle plate till golden specks are visible.

SCALLION TARTARE:

Mayo sauce........................................100 gm
Chopped onion....................................15 gm
Chopped coriander..............................5 gm
Fine shredded  sp onion leaves..........10 gm
Chopped gherkin/capers.....................5 gm
Lemon juice...........................................Half

Step 1. Mix all the items.check for salt and set aside.

COUNTRY WEDGE POTATOES:

Potato Medium.....................................500 gm
Salt.........................................................5 gm
Turmeric Powder...................................3 gm
Oil...........................................................25 ml
Dry mixed herbs....................................3 gm
Corn flour...............................................10 gm
Black Pepper Powder............................3 gm

Step 1. Cut potato into 8 wedges, skin on.

Step 2. Par boil the wedges with a little turmeric and salt.

Step 3. Sprinkle some herbs, pepper powder and corn flour and deep fry the wedges for about 2 minutes.

Step 4. Remove on a paper and keep aside.

PLATTING:

Place two fish cakes.
Scoop out tartare on the side.
Arrange potato wedges.
Place a lemon wedge and a fresh parsley/Coriander on top.



Interviewed: Retired Executive Chef Ajay Sood.
Interview taken by: Khatibah Rehmat.
Picture Courtesy: Chef Ajay Sood.

4 Responses

  1. Nice chef Ajay seeing u r work after long time
  2. Marvelous👌
  3. Excellent job Chef Ajay Sood. Keep the IHM 76 Batch flag flying. Proud of you. God bless
  4. Excellent job!!

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