Groomed with extensive experience of over 23 years in the hospitality industry, with immaculate knowledge and expertise in the culinary field, Chef Gautam Mehrishi, executive chef at Renaissance Convention Centre Hotel Mumbai is the epitome of curating and stimulating, personalised and memorable dining experiences. Speaking to Akshay Nayak he shares his journey in the culinary world
What inspired you to pursue your career in culinary arts?
There are multiple reasons that inspired me to start a career in culinary arts. My passion and love for cooking have inculcated since childhood, and learning and creating memorable culinary experiences by making food was self-driven. My lifelong passion for food became my ultimate goal as being able to create delicious dishes every day, experimenting with flavorsome combinations and seeing the delight on our guest’s faces is what motivated me to achieve the same.
What were the initial challenges and opportunities to be a celebrity chef in India?
There were numerous challenges all through the way, nonetheless, they were all lessons in themselves. Understanding the rhythm and falling into play balancing it out, was contrary to how a chef works in the kitchen. However, facing the camera and the narrative depiction of the same was another art to withhold! With time, it was easy to get a hold on the same, and it became a part of my lifestyle thereafter. I am pleased to have the opportunity to travel and showcase food and their legends at the same time.
How has the journey in the culinary industry so far been?
Speaking of extensive experience, that is over 23 years, between hospitality or interactive cooking shows and masterclasses, I would prefer a balanced life between the hotel and television. I had been associated with leading hotels, resorts and restaurants while exploring opportunities globally with various brands and hotel groups including the Taj Group of Hotels, InterContinental Eros Hotel, Sun-N-Sand Group of Hotels, The Southern Franchise Company LLC, The Claridges Hotel and standalone restaurants. I have also hosted various shows on National Television which include Naram Garam on Sahara One, Kitchen Champion on Colors and more shows, with the latest hosting on Zee Khana Khazana now known as Living Foodz.
Current trends in the F&B industry in India?
From restaurants offering paper straws, ban on single-use plastics to more sustainable methods of sourcing and procurement, people are increasingly looking at food that will not only be ‘farm-raised’ and ‘organic’ but will also see how it is impacting our environment. Sustainability is paving the way forward with industries and millennials justifying the urgency and need for the same.
With healthy eating being in trend, the superfood culture will continue to evolve in the new year. The upcoming superfood trends include nutritional yeast, seaweed, and healthy probiotics to name a few. The reduction of food waste is set to be a priority for governments and organizations on both a local and regional scale keeping in mind that the global food waste quantity is around 1.3 billion tons and is growing exponentially every year.
How are you leveraging the dining experiences for the modern-day well-travelled guests?
At Renaissance Mumbai, our sole purpose is to serve our guests palatable and presentable food. I am a huge believer of a saying ‘Before the food goes into your plate, it goes into your heart. I definitely want it to reach many hearts‘. While curating and stimulating, personalising memorable dining experiences of unique and gastronomical flavour combinations for all guests, I aim for the epitome of elegance and good taste.
Since many budding chefs see the industry as a glamorous one overlooking the challenges, what would you suggest them while pursuing this profession?
In my early years, while developing my learning skills, there were three platforms through which I learned i.e., by watching, by hearing & by doing it myself and sheer concentration led to everything falling in place. I have always remained grounded to my roots as I believe in hard work with a lot of discipline & adaptability to various conditions in life. In the hospitality industry, challenges will come at every turn, but you need to learn more by doing things yourself, and putting all your concentration & energy into it.