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Chef Rakesh Singh

Friday, May 5, 2017, 17:41 Hrs  [IST]

The Golden Hat Chef of the year, Chef Rakesh Singh is the Executive Chef of The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace. His creativity, unique and innovative style is evident in all his new dishes at all the restaurants at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace. Chef Rakesh’s forte does not only lie within the kitchen of the restaurant but also in the front, interacting with guests, being completely customer engaged, focusing on offering the most personalised service a chef can and he was also instrumental during the launch of Casbah, the roof-top Mediterranean cuisine themed restaurant. In an email interaction with Kathryn B K, Chef Rakesh Singh speaks about his specialisation in modern Indian cuisine and the significance of customer engagement for a chef.

Q As a Chef, what is your specialisation and what made you specialise in that cuisine?
My specialisation is in modern Indian Cuisine. Indian cuisine is getting popular throughout the globe. I had sensed the scarcity of a well-balanced Indian Chef (skills + educational qualifications) in my culinary school days. After I graduated from Welcomgroup Graduate School of hotel administration Manipal, I was selected as a Management trainee for ITC hotels and got chance to get trained under the legendry Indian kitchen of “Bukhara” & “Dumpukht” to further hone my culinary skills. I believe specialising in a cuisine of one’s own nationality is always an added advantage.

Q What would you count as your accomplishment as a chef so far?
I was fortunate to head a Michelin star Indian restaurant in London at a very young age, followed by appointment as an Executive Chef of The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace (a 427 room property with seven F&B outlets).

Q Considering Hyderabad is known for its local food, how have you tried to bring local elements into your kitchen at Westin Hyderabad?
We have not left any stone unturned to get the local cuisine in our kitchen. We have an elaborate selection of local dishes in our a la carte menu. We flaunt our rich local cuisine in breakfast, lunch & dinner buffets. Our live counter of local cuisine is always a talking point (right from Irani Tea to local breakfast, starters, main & dessert). Our Sunday brunches have a section based on local street food too.

Q How important is customer engagement for a Chef?
It is one of the most important tools to drive business. It is always inspiring to have loyal guests. We take pride to run an extra mile to create a “wow” experience for our guest. Right from crafting tailor-made menus to cookery classes to kitchen tour etc., we always look for an opportunity to make our guest feel very special. It is all about personalisation. As a Chef nothing can appease you more than a smile of a happy guest. The Westin Hyderabad has been fortunate enough to retain their guests’ right from the inception of the hotel.

Q In a city like Hyderabad where guests have plenty of dining opportunities outside hotels, what is the specific challenge for chefs to hold the guests back through innovations and creativity?
Like every other city, Hyderabad too has many dining option at a very competitive price. As chefs we are always on our toes to give an uncompromised culinary experience to our guests. It involves lots of R&D to come up with something new and different always, but I guess that is the fun of being a chef. We keep ourselves abreast with all new culinary activities happening in the town and strive to give a very different and a personalised experience to our guests.

Q Who is your inspiration/role model in the profession?
Rakesh Upadhyay was my first Executive Chef at The ITC Grand Central Mumbai. I consider myself very fortunate to know him. He is not just a Super Chef but a great human being. Currently he is the General Manager of CY Marriott Bhopal and an inspiration to many including me.

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