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Julia Carmen De Sa, Co-Founder, Tres

Thursday, February 12, 2015, 12:30 Hrs  [IST]

Chef Julia Carmen De Sa, Co-Founder, Tres With over 30 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry, Chef Julia Carmen holds  many accolades to her name.  An ’86 batch  IHM pass out from Goa, Julia was bit reluctant  and unenthused with cooking and production line in her formative years.  However, it was the persistence of her parents and professors that changed her life and brought out the hidden talent in her. Her creative streak was often appreciated by everyone, and that sense of appreciation was Chef Julia’s biggest motivation. Julia is one of those few chefs in the country who had the fortune to be trained under renowned Michelin Star chefs in Europe post which she has worked in some of the finest restaurants in Italy, Spain and France. After having worked with some of the finest chains like Taj, Hilton, DLF, and having run her own standalone restaurants in Europe, Singapore, and Middle East; she’s now the co-owner of an exclusive contemporary European cuisine restaurant  - Tres -  in up-market Lodhi Colony in Delhi. Chef Julia believes that each city has its own flavours that excites one’s senses to a point that one longs to visit that city again, and that’s what she recreates in her kitchen at Tres.  Hospitality Biz meets up with Chef Julia to understand  her passion for food and life….

What made you  pursue a Chef’s career?
Honestly to answer this I need to go way back when I was in my teens.  My father was instrumental in this. Like every teenager I told him that I wanted to take a break  for six months after my 12th standard to check what I wanted to do in life.  It did shock him, but he agreed, the six months streched to almost a year and that’s  the time my father got involved and told me that there was a hotel management college in Goa and insisted  I join it.

Initially, I was only playing around.  In my second year I was blessed to have a wonderful mentor who took me under his wings and groomed me in the nuances of food production. I had the skill and talent to create tasty food out of simple things. That was appreciated by everyone,  and that inspired me to pursue the career seriously.

chefs_corner_julia_carmen_de_sa_1.jpgWhat are your accomplishments as a Chef so far?
I always wanted to be the best – not second best; and I knew how to achieve that - focused approach, total commitment,  and  will-power to sustain in this industry. Some of my accomplishments are – being recognised as the Best Lady Chef in the industry; opportunity to cook and serve celebrities and VIPs; conceptualise and operationalise popular restaurants, including Zest at the DLF  and ‘The Pop Up’ at Asiad Village complex; etc.

My inspiration comes through all walks of life -  travelling, meetimg like-minded people , going through the internet, the landscape, a clear sky, a waterfall, etc. I get inspired when I open my eyes a little bit and see things in a different light. I enjoy the challenge of what other chefs and food lovers are doing in their lives.
Few memorable guests you catered to and any memorable experience?
In this journey of mine I have been fortunate  to cook for many guests, including Prime Minister of our country, visiting dignitaries, , celebrities , eminent personalities, etc.
I also learnt a lot from my guests.  On one occasion, some Italian guests came forward to teach me the art of cooking Italian food by working along with me in the kitchen. One of my most memorable experiences was when I was sent to Roorkee to cook for the bicentenary celebrations of the 4th Guard.  There were functions back to back with almost 1,000 people to be fed.  The supplies were limited and not  forthcoming because of the infrastructure issues.  But we worked as a team to make the programme a success.

Your views on culinary innovations?
Bold new ideas are required to supplant the same old way the culinary industry works. Innovation is a must to break the monotony. It is inevetiable, without that industry will come to a standstill. Only through innovation and creativity, this art can be kept alive.

chefs_corner_julia_carmen_de_sa_1.jpgYour views on changing profile of a chef?
Too many chefs are coming out today. They should try to get their basics right and not let money dictate their careers. When you are learning, let the focus be on gaining knowledge and not money.

Once  the art has been perfected there comes a time to make money and demand what you are worth . Today’s generation is not looking at that; they are looking only at positions and money and not what they can deliver.
Your views on fusion food?
It’s a great concept, but the marriage of ingredients has to be perfect. Mixing flavours or spices or herbs has to be ultimately appealing to the taste buds. Every dish has to be tried and tested before going to the guest and has to be thoroughly thought of.
Your advice to aspiring young chefs?
Focus on your goal  and let nothing come in the way  of achieving that goal. Never let yourself have the attitude of ‘ let it be’ or compromise. Always try to excel in whatever you undertake. Be determined to be successful.

Advantages of a Chef owned restaurant?
Total control  on the food offered; quick decision-making; constant innovation and upgradation  of the menu, style of service; Play around with seasonal produce;  ultimately total   control on both top and bottom line.
Your passion other than cooking?
Travelling to different parts of the world to experience the cuisines and to be present where you can feel the joy and happiness of such a wonderful creation called food.

Reading – as I can get a lot of knowledge and keep myself abreast of what is new in the culinary world.

Meditation – very very important part of my life as this helps me to be connect with the higher power, who in turn gives me direction, and inner peace to execute my ideas.

India’s prospects to be a culinary tourism destination?
Great potential and huge opportunities as India has it all.

But few things are required for this like changes in the excise law, taxation, and an open policy for import in the country as we need to keep pace with what is happening around the globe  in the culinary industry.

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