Having worked with finest Indian Chefs and expatriate Chefs; Chef Sanjay has Imbibed tremendous learning and construed his own style of Indo-Western cuisines and management, which he would like to result in culinary excellence, quantum profitability, job satisfaction and growth for others and self. Sanjay Kumar ECS of Abela & Co.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: We would like to know more about you, how did you get until here?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: Probably, when I was 11 years old, then decided to be a chef. This is because I grew up in urban side of North India, where my family tended our own vegetable garden. This provided us with an abundance of fresh products throughout the year. Since I was eight years old, I began assisting my mother in the kitchen with simple tasks such as; preparing veggies, sweets and parathas. That rapidly led me taking on more responsibilities for preparation of Sunday meals and lunch. As my relative also ran a wine business and imported large number of wines from many places, I became acquainted with the two most significant pillars of the culinary world: FOOD and WINE. That's how my connection in this industry began in my early years.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: What suggestions do you have about how to test a progressive idea effectively?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: Both talent and skill needs to be continually improved for a chef to flourish in this culinary world. They cannot be separated because of being intertwined. If I had to choose, I'd choose skills. Since, once you master them, it will be simpler to adapt to other kitchens. It's evident that we were on to recent growth of social networks that prioritise photo and video contents over more conventional formats, specially amongst young people who view the world through a smartphone and are shunning facebook in favour of sites like Instagram and Tik-Tok. We already knew the market, which was a significant advantage and it just proves how crucial early planning and market research are. If we lack expertise or experience in a crucial aspect of the market, it's a sign that you need to hire the right strategic partners. Recognising where additional knowledge is required is just a part of the job.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: What qualities should an effective team leader have in your opinion?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: New ideas are inspired by curiosity. We can better comprehend the issue and identify a solution by being updated with events and analysing our own actions. It is quite difficult for leaders to maintain their position at the top by keeping these attributes in mind since all industries and technologies are continually improving. Hiring people from varied backgrounds often introduce innovative ideas and perspective as new trends and technology develop over time. Every opinion should indeed be valued and no employee or leader is too senior to learn. Leadership is about being receptive to new ideas and encouraging a creative and inventive workplace. The bottom line is that, there is no such thing as knowing enough or everything about your profession and industry. That's the beauty of being a leader in an ever changing landscape.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: What advice would you provide to a prospective chef?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: The most crucial think to keep in mind while entering the field is to have a certain end objective. Plan out your career path; understand whether you want to wish to work for a hotel or simply came here to enjoy the ambiance of fine dining? Do you want to own a restaurant or are you more interested in becoming a head chef? Being a chef is the most gratifying occupation for me but, it's no secret is associated by giving in long hours on job therefore, sometimes it's very challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The hotel section is gloriously rewarding and constantly changing. Hence, it's impossible to get tired of it, if you have proper perseverance.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: What suggestions do you have to form a team to strengthen management and leadership?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: Transparency stems from the notion that your highs can be just as high as your lows. You should only recruit staff who are wiser than you in their position, along with this apparent knowledge. And if you have a team that is intelligent, sincere and dedicated to their work, it is easier for you to accomplish your goals. The support and trust you need in difficult circumstances can be ensured by being open and honest with a team that share your values. This is a testament to the culture of transparency and trust that we have built here. Again, it is not very easy to lead by example. There is something powerful about knowing that we are sailing on the same boat and I would never ask for anything I haven't done myself or would not do if I could and my team knows it.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: What are the best points you wanted to focus on, while becoming a great team leader?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: The first step on a lifelong path to leadership is self-awareness. There are times when you need to be a manager more than a leader, therefore flexibility and adaptability are equally crucial to become more significant than merely having a name. You must reflect on yourself, if want to lead effectively and will be in a great position if can identify own strengths and obstacles before someone else can and the most crucial rule is to never point out a problem without first considering a solution.
KHATIBAH REHMAT: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received? What further suggestions do you have?
CHEF SANJAY KUMAR: Carry yourself appropriately for the role you aspire to. Notice how the person in that role represents the idea, carries themselves, interacts with others and how business network forms. Even if you are the best, you should be as adaptable as possible to embrace these approaches.
Do not let people or circumstances make you cynical. Although life is very challenging, it's important to maintain an open mind because when someone becomes jaded, they allow terrible events to cloud their judgment and drive them to believe something that isn't actually true. You may miss out on some of life's best possibilities if you are jaded. Nobody is flawless, which is yet another thing to keep in mind. Never profess to be perfect; instead, pay attention to your workplace. When you reach that point, you know you've succeeded.
INTERVIEWED AND PICTURE COURTESY: Chef Sanjay Kumar.
INTERVIEW TAKEN BY: Khatibah Rehmat (Senior Journalist).