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DAY IN THE LIFE OF

Chef Davinder Kumar Vice President (F&B Production) & Executive Chef, Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi

A connoisseur in the art of cooking, a perfectionist to the core, a strict disciplinarian, and a true leader, Chef Davinder Kumar – Chef DK for close friends and associates - has played a key role in bringing the chef’s profession and the artists behind it recognition and rewards. A national tourism award winner himself, Chef DK was the master brain behind the most popular annual Chef Awards. P Krishna Kumar tries to understand Chef DK and his credo

Monday, October 20, 2014, 10:00 Hrs  [IST]

dayinlife_chef_davinder_kumar.jpgYoung Davinder wanted to pursue some professional courses after completing his Commerce degree programme from Delhi University.  There were hardly many vocational programmes available in the country forty years ago.  It was from one of his friends, who was employed in the Oberoi’s , that   Davinder came to know about the chef’s profession.  He didn’t think twice before enrolling into Oberoi Centre of Learning & Development (OCLD) for 3-years Kitchen Management diploma programme.   His family was not very happy with his choice, but didn’t object as well.  “It was an upcoming profession not much recognized nor respected at that time,” he concedes.  After completing the diploma, he was absorbed by the Oberoi Group.  And because of his interest in French language, he was sent to Paris for a specialization programme in French cuisine.  Two years at Lycée Technique d’Hotelier  in Paris transformed him into an accomplished artist in gourmet cuisines.  “The exposure that I got here expanded my horizons,” he says.  

Chef DK worked with the Oberoi Group for 12 years.  He was made the Executive Chef of the Oberoi InterContinental (now the Oberoi New Delhi) in 1982 at the age of 29. “It was a time when hotel kitchens were ruled by foreign chefs.  It was quite challenging task for me, but with God’s grace I took up the challenge and was able to achieve success,” he recounts.  Chef DK left the Oberoi Group and joined the opening team of Le Méridien, New Delhi in 1985 as Executive Chef and is currently working as the Vice President (F&B Production)  and Executive Chef of the hotel. 

Fast Five:
Favourite car: BMW
Favourite Travel destination: Whole of Europe, and Switzerland in specific
Favourite Food: European and Pan-Asian
Favourite Drink: Red Wine and Scotch
Favourite Book: Books on Spirituality, Leadership, etc.

Day Break
An early riser, Chef DK’s day starts at six in the morning.  A fitness freak, he goes for a morning stroll and then works out.  A strong devotee of Goddess Vaishno Devi, he spends some time in ‘pooja’ in the morning before getting ready for office.  His breakfast is generally cereals and fruits.  “Fruits are must for me for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he says.  He starts early from his South Delhi residence to reach the hotel by nine.  Once the morning meetings are completed, he takes a round of the kitchen area.  “I believe in a lot of detailing.  I meet up with staff in the kitchen during the rounds and interact with them,” he informs.  Once back in my cabin, I check the mails, follow ups, etc.  At around 11.30, he chairs a meeting of all the chefs in a small meeting room in the kitchen area, and discusses operational and other issues.  Afternoons are basically for menu planning, demonstration, execution, etc., he adds.  There will also be some meetings, interviews, etc. scheduled in the afternoon.  “The chef’s job has become very challenging today as compared to earlier.  Once you reach a certain level, it is not too much of cooking, but other responsibilities that keep you on your toes. A Chef is answerable to the cost on a day to day basis,” he observes.

Although he indulges in occasional parties with friends in the fraternity and family members, by and large he follows a strict food regimen.  His lunch comprises salads, soups and fruits, and for dinners he prefers simple Chapati, dal and fruits.   “I make sure that I have at least one meal with my family in a day,” he informs.  He tries to be back home by 7.30 in the evening unless there are some pressing engagements.  

dayinlife_chef_davinder_kumar_1.jpgPersonal life
Born and bred in Delhi, Chef DK got married in 1979 to Ekta Kumar.  The couple has three children – two sons and one daughter.  While one son and the daughter are married, the youngest son is still pursuing his studies.  

Chef DK who gets motivated and inspired by people who have done well in their life and achieved major milestones, himself believes in dreaming and working hard to realize those dreams.   He has written four books which are used as reference books by many aspiring chefs in the trade.  He has authored ‘Kebab, Chutney & Bread’; “Just Kebabs: Celebration of 365 Kebabs & one for a Leap Year’, ‘Soups’, and ‘Four Seasonal Salads’.  “I always believed in giving my best to my friends and the fraternity,” he said.

Personal milestones
A strong believer in culinary innovations, Chef DK is recipient of many honours and accolades.  The 7500 kg cake that he and his team created during the 10th anniversary of Le Meridien New Delhi has found a place in the Limca Book of Records. His presentation had won a medal at the International Cooking Festival held in Tokyo, Japan, in 1983. He was bestowed with Golden Hat Chef Award and also the Best Chef of India award by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India at National Tourism Awards.

Known for his leadership qualities, Chef DK has the distinction of serving the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF), a fraternal body of Chefs in the Northern region, for 12 years now.  He played a crucial role in establishing the annual chef awards, the mega annual event of ICF into a brand over the years.  As preparation for the 11th annual edition of Chef Awards in full swing, Chef DK is engrossed in making the event better and better.  Even after spending long four decades in the hotel kitchen, his passion for the profession and love for the trade is still intact. “I salute this profession which made me what I am,” came his final punch!

 
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