‘Food was ever since my first love since childhood.
"Food was ever since my first love since childhood, the vibrancy of colors and tempting aromas from my home kitchen fascinated me into the curiosity to find out more and more on all that came onto my plate’. being a healthy toddler to becoming a hardcore foodie gradually it became a hobby turned towards a profession for me and me ever since the age of 7 wanted to do this and be known for doing it with Passion and Commitment!
-Celebrity Chef Kaviraj Khialani.
Awarded the Best Chef Asia Award in 2020
Recipient of the Prestigious
Bharat Vidya Ratan Award in 2019
[National Award For Excellence]
Q1. Have you always been passionate about becoming a chef?
Reply: It was a very clear, structured and wise decision taken since childhood and was very seriously and meticulously monitored by my parents who molded me to take it up on a serious note and stood by me to follow my passion and make it all possible for me to achieve every bit of all that I ever wanted to. I recall my very initial basic serious kitchen lessons having learned them from my mother at home from the very first cut on my finger to the tears rolling down cutting the first lot of onions back then to the facial expression on making an over sticky dough for chapatti the look back is so very enchanting for me today with a feeling of pride and contentment and is a feeling which can’t be expressed in words! Mistakes we must all make, but the outcome and lessons learned therefrom must bring out a very new version of you was my motto towards achieving the best and challenging myself that I can do it.
Having learned the basics of cutting, chopping, making tea, coffee shakes, etc. sandwiches, pizzas, tossing up a few salads is how I started initially under supervision and worked up towards rolling a proper round shape roti and making a good well puffed Phulka was a sight of satisfaction and a feel-good motivator to do even better!
Most of my summer vacations during higher secondary standards were spend joining vocational courses related to my field like chocolate making, restaurant-style Indian recipes, professional icing, and cake decoration, the art of fruit and vegetable carving etc. it was fun and I always loved picking up a new skill ever since to add onto the list of can-do tasks.
Post high the school I decided to join a professional course in hotel management & catering technology as graduation which also gave me a real-life picture of the industry through multiple opportunities of industrial training and internships with branded hotels. Having exposed to a variety of departments from operations to management I found my comfort zone to be the food production department and a sense of fulfillment came to me from there and it was an amazing experience!
I never thought I wanted to deviate from my goals even after having really long hours of training periods up to even 15 plus hours per day, I would reach home tired but still wanted to go back the very next morning and my pocket note pad and the pen would be as eager as me to fill up some new learnings and observations as days passed by.
Besides a very keen interest in cooking good food I also realized that I was expressive in words and I came across an opportunity to share my words on food and hospitality-related topics with a few publications in Mumbai the very first the magazine was the Intelligent Hotelier which published my first write up, followed by the Mid-day Mumbai.
I felt recognized and motivated that I could do more in this allied field as well and I continued to write recipes, articles and the publications kept adding in and soon it reached around 20 plus out of which few were even international magazines, newspapers and journals.
Having started my professional career with the iconic Taj group of hotels in Mumbai, it was one of my best on the job learnings which I follow even today. My next the destination was being selected by Kuwait airways to be based at their inflight catering unit at Kuwait international airport and being a sky chef with this known the brand I got a chance to multiply my knowledge to level next with an international exposure catering to over 18 airlines worldwide with loads of foods being dished out every hour and reaching passengers on board! Kuwait airways also gave me a chance to get into training cabin crew and airline executives on food and menu knowledge and I am highly grateful to all my seniors for having given me the chance to come ahead and prove myself. Besides international cuisine hands-on exposure this company also taught me the importance of food safety, hygiene, and sanitation from the simple to the complex and even HAACP certifications!
Writing and expressing myself didn’t yet stop there and I was delighted to see my recipes regularly being published in The Times- Kuwait’s Premier newspaper which was a great achievement.
I also came across a local spice company too in Kuwait who offered me an assignment to promote the spices of their brand by designing recipes and food styling them for their print advertisements and promotional activities.it was something new for me, a new challenge and I accepted it with confidence, it clicked and I also started judging cookery contests for the company as a part of their ongoing promotion campaigns.
After a nice the learning experience and a bagful of knowledge I returned back to India and was all set to look for suitable new ventures to take up and continue staying back home. I came across an offer which I couldn’t resist and I got into training and development for hotel management students at some of the reputed colleges and institutions in Mumbai on a full-time basis.
There comes a stage in life where one has to think of start giving back and sharing the quality and experience to the ones who need it the most and to share it coming back from an international platform was all the more exciting!
I also released my first international cookery book titled- Arabic cookery in 2004 [has been a successful book ever since it was released]
Post which I also worked on Filipino foods, 100 ways with fusion foods, and the most recent one being the lockdown recipe collection- the treasure of 100 days!
My first presence on Indian television was in the year 2000 on Star Plus and later in 2009 with Colors Television- on the first food reality show titled- LG- Mallika- E- Kitchen featuring me for 13 episodes in the very 1st season.
Besides writing I also got actively involved in restaurant consultancies, research and development assignments with popular food brands in India and overseas.
Q2] What are your favorite dishes on the menu and why?
Reply- being a foodie, I love all kinds of foods and I love trying out new dishes with a touch of creative angles in them.
I always like to find out more about the dish before ordering it at a restaurant in order to get a clear picture of its flavors and presentation.
Some of my all-time welcome dishes are biryani, butter chicken, dal fry with jeera rice, egg fried with chicken Manchurian, Thai curry with jasmine rice, pan-fried noodles with stir-fried mushrooms.
3] how were you introduced to various different flavors and ingredients?
Reply- it has indeed been a very magical journey since the beginning, flavors, and aromas of spices and various ingredients touched base from my home kitchen moving onto the level next once I got into the professional aspect of culinary operations each day was a new delightful surprise to work for my hands-on combinations and mixes in order to create awesome concoctions to offer my valued guests!
A detailed study over the years has always been a motivating factor in introducing new flavors and combinations in my recipes with a touch of creativity and a hint of balance complimented with a touch of critical acclaim and scope for improvement always kept me doing much better!
4] what are the classical cooking techniques and how do they retain the natural goodness of homegrown ingredients?
Reply- The culinary world has seen a wide and varied list of appreciable classical cooking techniques ever since the developmental phase took off on a global platform. Besides the most authentic ways of pit roasting, stewing and live grills & barbeques, I somehow also liked The Dum Concept of cooking, it is one of my favorites and really brings out a new dimension altogether from the flavors in the dish. Keeping in mind the time and durations each of the classical methods takes we are now into a phase of life where induction and microwave cooking has been on top of the charts. Personally, I love doing some of my recipes in classical ways since they are definitely much better in many ways and retain the qualitative nutrition balance in the foods. Going local and keeping in mind the freshness and adapting to homegrown ingredients is surely the way to go.
5] how important is it in your opinion to create dishes that are authentic and sustainable?
Reply- I feel a successful chef must think of applying his thoughts and experience in valuing the rich culture of every cuisine besides which we also need to look at creating a balance between holding on to the classic dishes and also be able to sustain their ideologies and importance ever since they were a part of our kitchens!
As a chef I feel it is my duty to share and create awareness among not only my guests but also a message of being able to pass on the goodness of recipes which are a part of our tradition down the lines with pride and with an open mind and heart we need to elevate authenticity coupled with a sense of sustainability to match it being of prime importance.
6] what does Doe's coronavirus mean for the hospitality industry?
Reply- The COVID Era as we know has been a shock in strike factor with an unprecedented approach left us amidst a state of a standstill with no options initially but to be static where we all were.
It has been a difficult time for our industry and has affected the careers and jobs of many skilled and talented professionals across the country besides globally as well.
The pandemic state of affairs left us with a limited choice of action plans to move ahead initially but I must commend the efforts of a number of renowned hospitality industry names and profiles who did take an initiative to stand for our industry and many hoteliers as well stood by with their teams and did not follow layoffs in many brands.
However, the situation on a wider perspective looks grim for now, we know that in the days to come we are into the unlock mode as well and we are pretty positive of working hard and reviving our industry back into action very soon thereby also opening doors for employable professionals at various levels too. On an affirmative note I do see things shaping up positively in a little while from now and it truly means that we will come out with a new normal era of welcoming back our valued guests with a sense of pride and commitment.
7] what is your message for the upcoming chefs?
Reply- more then a message I would like to highlight some advice to all those who aspire to be a part of this challenging industry
a. Before stepping onto this skilled and artistic platform be sure of why you wish to embrace this as a part of your life.
b. Do not look at this career from just a short term perspective, if you like something or are passionate about it, there cannot be ifs and buts.
c. One has to be very clear that this the respectable profession is not only about glamour but calls for a lot of commitment and smart work as well with a strong foundation of your basics.
d. Do not take this up as your bread and butter on a third parties advice or just because someone did it or pursued it and could be successful, you need to ask questions, counsel yourself in details before saying yes.
e. It’s not just about watching someone cook on television or looking at the TRPs of online cooking videos it is a much different life being able to come up after doing all of the not so easy stuff as well, it can be calling for a lot of your time, your personal life and adjustment and sacrifice as well.
f. Be a receptive person, do not get low or don’t let a few bad experiences put you off from this profession. Anticipate and accept criticism and work on yourself each day and work towards betterment.
g. Never give up attitude, head on shoulder, feet well-grounded and patience and persistence are surely going to make you reach where you wish to. Don’t just get carried away by what some people might have to say with their not so interesting tales, it’s not necessary the same would happen with you.
Q- 8] Many chefs have lost their jobs due to this pandemic, can they start a business from home and how?
Reply- yes, I agree and I am fully aware of the situation around us and quite a few professional talented skilled chefs are facing a difficult time since the last few months. A piece of advice on a positive note would be to introspect in detail in this halt situation and find out what are your other hidden talents or skills with regards to the food industry and try tapping on them meantime and keep your focus on the new gates which have started opening as well since a few days now.
I also know of few chefs who started their own cuisine special food service delivery in their localities and are doing well. There are also options for starting up ghost kitchens or cloud kitchens as they are called with a minimum investment and making decent money once you have understood the strategies and ways to get into it.
A few chefs I know have also meanwhile started their online training sessions at very attractively priced packages with a glocal variety of dishes which people can learn sitting at home as well via online teaching methodologies which is also the in thing now.
While opportunities remain many to be looked at what also matters how open you are as an individual to receive these ideas into your system and take it on a positive note and venture into it with an open mind and willpower.
Profile of Celebrity Chef Kaviraj Khialani
Committed, Competent and Compatible is how he describes himself in 3 words.
A passion for cooking which grew within him from the age of 7 years and never looked back, aspired him to acquire his basics at home and further down by joining professional courses in India and overseas to make him one of the country's well recognized successful name in the world of culinary and hospitality.
He is specialized in over 33 types of international cuisines and also loves doing fusion foods to add change and varieties with his touch of creativity and innovation with food. He has been awarded the prestigious "Bharat Vidya Ratan Award" at New Delhi acknowledging his excellence in his field of expertise. In February 2020, he also received The Best Chef Asia Award at the Taj in Mumbai for his outstanding contribution to the field of culinary and hospitality education. His work experience includes the Taj group of hotels and Kuwait airways which balances his experience with hotels as well as catering for international airlines keeping in mind the highest possible level of hygiene and quality.
With over 21 years of experience now, he is also known to pen down the not so popular topics via books like Arabic cookery was his first book published in India in 2004, he has also worked on Filipino Cookery, 100 ways with fusion foods, lockdown cooking, quarantine memories with food and the most awaited life of a hotel management student, to name a few. His passion for perfection mantra always keeps him learning each day and working on new ways with ingredients is one of his hobbies. He has also been a writer besides an author, has contributed articles and recipes to over 25 publications worldwide with his creative ideas.
Star plus and colors television also invited him to be on their food reality shows. Television advertisements and endorsement of kitchen-related gadgets also saw him getting loads of recognition and fan following globally. Hotel and restaurant consultancies, menu designing and presentations, food designer, critic and creative cuisine specialist to many food companies as well as offered him world-class experience in the field of research and development as well.
"I want to be known as one who could always do something different with a touch of class and a twist of taste" are some of his positive and motivational lines to inspire the younger generation to become successful names in the food and hospitality industry.
He has also been a culinary guru, mentor, academician for over 20 years now and wants to be a supportive hand for those who need it the most.
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