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‘A successful career is only if it is built on a solid foundation’: Chef Davinder Kumar

Monday, November 22, 2021, 16:16 Hrs  [IST]
Asmita Mukherjee | Hyderabad

Chef Davinder Kumar, President of the Indian Culinary Forum, who is also the Vice President (F&B Production) & Executive Chef of Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi recently spoke with Asmita Mukherjee regarding the vision of the Indian Culinary Forum and the future of the culinary profession in the backdrop of the pandemic.


What was your vision while forming the Indian Culinary Forum (ICF)?


The Indian Culinary Forum is the Indian association of professional chefs. It was formed in New Delhi in 1987 as an exclusive non-profit organisation, dedicated solely to the advancement of the culinary art of India. The forum’s objective is to act as a link, a platform and an instrument for the national community of chefs. ICF was formed with the aim to encourage and inspire junior chefs through training and competition, as well as, to enhance international culinary prestige in India and encourage Indian nationals to consider a career within the hospitality industry.


ICF's Annual Chef Awards is extremely popular in the culinary industry. When and why did you plan to introduce these awards?



The awards instituted in 2004 have evolved over the years. The focus remains on recognising talent and skills, along with honouring and promoting the fraternity of chefs with the concept of encouraging young talent, thereby enticing youngsters to join this growing industry and at the same time raising the overall standards of the Culinary Art in India to bring it at par with international standards.


What makes this award different from other awards in the culinary world?


Nominations are invited from restaurants, hotels and catering institutes from across the hospitality segment. With predefined criteria in place, the applications are first screened and eligible participants are considered for the competitions. For 11 categories of Master Chefs, trade tests are conducted under the able supervision of a jury of chefs. Only candidates who score over 85 per cent in the stringent rating system are considered for the awards.


The remaining categories include top awards of Golden Hat, Silver Hat, Lady Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year, Best Food Writer and recognition for Lifetime Achievement. For these categories of awards, the Jury is comprised of eminent names from the industry, which evaluates the credentials and performance of each nominee and takes the final call to award the winning participant.


These awards are for a purpose, by chefs, for chefs, ensuring total transparency, stringent selection and evaluation criteria and WACS certified jury. The organising committee comprises highly experienced and eminent chefs and industry leaders. These are the only awards that have sustained over 18 years.


What will be your advice for young budding chefs? 


If you have passion and zeal, you can achieve anything that you aspire for. Your talent, which needs to be continuously honed, combined with the capacity to work beyond your strength, will take you very far. Remember that a successful career is only if it is built on a solid foundation. Therefore, learn the basics.


How has the culinary profession changed in the aftermath of covid-19?


In the post-pandemic stage, the focus for a chef and the customer has been on hygiene, safety and immunity. Chefs on their part are ensuring that they offer their customers a safe environment, and at the same time provide specially curated food that would help them in immunity boosting. Making the customers comfortable is key.


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