As George Bernard Shaw says, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food”. Siddharth Kalyanaraman, is what we have all dreamt of being at some point in our lives, a chef. Siddharth has finished his Bachelors in Science in Hotel Management and Applied Nutrition from Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Mumbai. “This encompassed studying about all aspects of the hotel i.e. Front Office, Housekeeping, Food and Beverage Service and Food and Beverage Production.” Siddharth then completed a Kitchen Management Training Program at ITC Hospitality Management Institute, Gurgaon.
We have a lot of illusions about the Hotel Management Industry. It is not entirely rosy at the beginning of the journey of being a chef. Siddharth shares, “Starting at the bottom as a 3rd cook to heading a restaurant for a Michelin Star chef, I have had my ups and downs but both have led me from strength to strength and increased my resilience.”
When Siddharth is not doing wonders in the kitchen, you could catch him working out and enjoying some good music. “In my spare time, I go out, have a drink with friends and spend some time with them, and eat, a lot.” Siddharth says, “I love food, both eating, and cooking. I eat everywhere, from roadside joints to 5-star restaurants; ever changing helps me keep my mind open about things and keeps me abreast of what is going on.”
We take inspiration from Siddharth when he says “I have had the good fortune of working my way up which has helped me understand every aspect and everyone’s problems and issues along the ladder. It has played a major part in shaping my professional and personal life.”
Siddharth believes that he has two strengths that have helped him reach the point where he is now. “One is what my brother calls an unquestionable thirst for knowledge. I think it’s a trait I’ve got from my father. I love learning, doing research and trying to innovate at all times. For a highly cover-changing food scenario in today’s world, this is very important.” Team building is the other strength he talks about. He believes and endeavors to keep his people happy. “In my field, it is very important to have a team of content and a cheerful lot of people around you. We spend almost 13-14 hours a day together, even more than we do with our families.” This has helped him have like- minded people around him at all times, which is crucial in a high pressure and environment that exists in a kitchen.
Where he stands now
Siddharth is currently the Chef at NRI (Not Really Indian) Restaurant, at BandraKurla Complex, Mumbai. Siddharth considers leading a kitchen for Chef AtulKochhar and working with Michelin Star Chef, a dream come true. He recalls, “Working with ITC Hotels was a wonderful journey; my love for South Indian and Indian food stems from my association with them.”
On being asked about his weakness, Siddharth says, “I honestly don’t know of any. You will have to ask my colleagues I suppose. There is no room for any weakness in high-end kitchens where you have to be a 100% on your worst day. But if I were to point one out I’d say it is pushing abilities, both mine and my team’s, physically and mentally.”
Siddharth has a firm belief that we must always be better than yesterday and that, he tries to inculcate in my team. “Hence at times, i may just go the extra mile which I realize later. Which is why having a good team and keeping them content is extremely essential so that they are not too affected by this.”
In the next five years, Siddharth wishes to dedicatedly learn and work with great chefs like his mentor and current boss Chef AtulKochhar, to polish himself and gain knowledge and experience from them. “In ten years I hope to have a restaurant of my own, cooking some wonderful food for some beautiful people.”
Siddharth finished his schooling from Tagore International School, New Delhi and considers “A day when no equipment breakdowns, no drains clogged, no cuts and bruises, all staff at work and in good health is an amazing day for me. I feel accomplished where at the end of the day the customers are happy, my staff is happy and I have learned something new and I am better than yesterday.”
Siddharth comes across as experienced when he answers the question if he has made it large yet. He says, “It is a matter of perspective. Professionally, I am still learning and getting there, personally working with some amazingly talented individuals and getting to meet interesting and wonderful people day in and day out, I make it large every day.”
If his journey is not envious enough, pictures of some beautiful dishes would do the rest. We wish you all the luck in the world for your future endeavors. We hope your dream of opening a restaurant of your own comes true soon.