SUNBIZ

Singh Loves His Work As An Executive Chef

My personality, hard work and determination churned my experience into progress, which led to me trying and learning so many variations of cooking, along my journey-Sarjheel Singh (Executive Chef Tanoa International Hotel).
08 Sep 2019 10:57
Singh Loves His Work As An Executive Chef
Tanoa International Hotel executive chef Sarjheel Singh preparing a dish.

Destiny doesn’t teach you anything it’s a point where everything stops. But the journey to get there teaches you everything.

These were the words of Tanoa International Hotel executive chef Sarjheel Singh who has been working for the Tanoa Group for more than six years.

Below are excerpts from an interview with Mr Singh:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I started my job as a kitchen hand in a pizza café, while I was doing my studies in Hospitality Management. I use to study during the day and do evening shifts, which included doing basic mise en place, washing dishes, cleaning and clearing.

My personality, hard work and determination churned my experience into progress, which led to me trying and learning so many variations of cooking, along my journey.

I met so many different chefs, stalwarts, Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities, sporting icons, presidents, Prime Ministers I cooked and  served so many of them. It is where I embodied and developed strong customer relations.

My pre-eminence guided me into developing strong people skills and working together for common goals.

As an executive chef for Tanoa International, I also lend a helping hand to all the sister properties within the group.

My journey so far has not been easy, but I know all my failures are temporary.

If I had quit it would be for a lifetime, I would like to continue to learn and strive for better career Heights.

How long have you worked at Tanoa International?

I have been with the Tanoa group for the past  six years and for the past year and a half executive chef at Tanoa International.

When did you first become interested in food and why?

I became interested in this profession at the age of 14, I use to travel down to Sigatoka to my uncle’s restaurant, which was located just opposite.

The Reef resort back then and now Outrigger on the Lagoon. The times I spent with him during school breaks is something I will never forget.

He used to make so many different dishes and I would love to taste different flavours and methods of his cooking.

By seeing strangers who come and dine in his restaurant, thanking him for his food and presentation made me realise that I wanted to become a chef one day.

What is the one dish you especially love and remember?

My first gold medal dish, I made a local seafood Tian in which I attained 98/100 on the scorecards.

How did your family react when you told them you wanted to become a chef?

It was a bit of a mixed reaction my mom was always supportive of me and allowed me to follow my dreams. But my dad had other plans. He wanted to see me become a Pilot.

Tell us about your career so far?

The journey has been fabulous, I have worked and gained so much experience from the different properties, served so many different personalities and celebrities, it’s only getting more exciting.

Tell us about the concept for your menu at the Tanoa International?

At Tanoa International we boast, 4 Food outlets. Where we extensively do food produced from local ingredients but served with a modern approach.

Garden Court: Is our a-la-carte restaurant, which comprises a range of local and international flavours

Fresh pizza & Tandoor: Our extended selection outlet, where everything is done fresh, from gourmet style hand rolled wood fire baked pizzas to a variety of mouthwatering Tandoori delicacies from our Tandoor oven.

Mint Café: Our coffee shop, where we do a selection of coffees and with a range of house made pastries and cookies which you can choose from.

Bula Bar: Is where our guests prefer to mingle with a drink and grab a bar snack menu .

We also do a full range of Buffet options for our conferences such as workshops, groups and arge meetings, and for events such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc

We also host large functions up to 500 people.

With these categories of choices, our menus are welcoming to vegetarian, non-vegetarians (intolerant to Gluten, nut, soy, lactose), ketogenic diet, healthy options and many more.

We also offer tailor made menus for our guests as a catering solution.

What is your favourite dish to cook for guests?

Anything which my guest prefers, and I try my best to exceed their expectations.

What is another favourite dish among your guests?

Our pizza is one of the best if not the best in the market, we certainly get heaps of praises. For 99 per cent of our guest’s pizza are a must during their length of stay.

Do you have favourite ingredients you like to cook with?

Not particularly, but I like to work with food which is closest to the farm. I mostly try to avoid processed food. We do have our own back yard garden, which generously provide our much-needed basic fruits and vegetables.

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

With the modern trend of cooking there are so many new, smart and efficient equipment’s I use and have in my kitchen, but good old sharp 10” chef’s knife is always very handy.

Describe a typical day at work?

Working very closely with my team, during all meals periods, following up on kitchen inventory & administrational duties, I never miss to check on my capture and daily revenue ratio.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

Scarcity of natural harvest and climate change, with so much abundant land in our country yet we mostly choose to open food from either cans, bottles or packet. If tourism is the throne of our country, then agriculture should be the back bone of our nation. Let’s plan to plant.

As a chef I am totally in support and urge fishermen to honestly observe the ban for all types of groupers (4fiji campaign) and not catch and sell any undersized crustaceous such as crabs, lobsters etc.

As a chef my challenge is to advocate and promote quality produce and do all possible in saving our environment which will surely save our natural resources for our next generations to benefit from.

When at home, what do you like to eat?

Everything that mom makes, am a huge fan of my mom’s cooking

What do you like most about your job?

The responsibility of motivating and inspiring others to get more creative.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

It’s mostly family time with my wife, I have an eight months old daughter (Yashveera), she takes up all my time, my new source of inspiration.

If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing right now?

Maybe I would have been perusing my Dad’s dream.

Other than creating great food, what are the most important qualities that make a successful chef?

Discipline, loyalty, teamwork, integrity and creativity.

Who is your favourite celebrity chef?

Don’t really follow any one but I thoroughly enjoy watching Marco Pierre White, Ferran’ Adria and Heston Blumenthal. I like all their work.

Any tips for budding chefs?

Know where your food comes from, Product knowledge is essential and never stop researching.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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