Chef of the Week: Chef Jolly, International Chef Consultant

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I am a consultant for restaurant operations globally and have been doing the same for over 5 years now.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I learnt my skills through my culinary journey, which began during childhood, growing up watching my mother and grandmother cook on clay ovens for large gatherings of family and friends. I am still intrigued with the ways and nuances of traditional cooking followed by the most skilled cooks of India, and my curiosity and inquisitiveness only helped me to dive deeper and learn from the real sources.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
It’s very gratifying when we can touch the souls of people who enjoy good and honest food. This is an artform that can be very comforting when done right.  It’s an immediate reflection of the efforts put in and every second of that experience is a moment to be cherished. The camaraderie within the team is worth a big appreciation and only by the team’s collective effort is the true recipe of success achieved.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
I could not manage without Acids (lime/lemon/tamarind), Seasoning (salt) or Garlic.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A Spice Blender … I am lost without one.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Far eastern (Korean/Vietnamese) and Nikkei cuisine.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Inconsistency in delivery, Dropping the ball on small details and specificity of technique and recipe execution.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
It depends on the region of the world I am in. Broadly I love Autumn and Winter because of the produce available. This allows me to slow cook and braise which I love to do (apart from bbq/roast).

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Well! it’s a tricky one, but I take pride in my Braised Lamb Shanks with saffron and select aromatic spices, my Dal Makhani is world famous with-out doubt and my Kulcha breads are a total soul food amongst others.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Inspirations, intrigue & love for travel drives me to experiment and craft.

Who was your greatest influence?
I have been fortunate to be born in a family who love great food and cook it too. It started there my experiences along the way through travel and exploration have become very influential in my cuisine.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Rick Stein has to top my list followed by anyone who can connect nature with the art.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Do not have one at the moment, as all of them have something interesting to learn from.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I would say that there is a lot of new and young talent in the world these days who are pushing the boundaries of what we thought was possible with food, surprising us with their connection of culture and science in their amazing creations. Technology has also made it accessible and more fascinating for all to be exposed to the ever-evolving nature of cooking in general.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
That would have to be Shikar, meaning “hunt” in Singapore.