Nostalgia – a story of a Lad in the Kitchen:

A must read for the Hotel Management Trainees…

As a young apprentice, it is most exciting to see the rows of gleaming copper / brass / stainless steel/ ceramic / earthen pot and pans, vast shining stoves / oven …. almost exciting to see CHEFS / COOKS in their whites at work all at the same time.

Soon after the first introduction began with instructions in culinary science, store room and into the nature of quality of ingredients. Explained for instance the different sort of rice. Almonds too must, carefully pick them, in case there may be a bitter one among them, which are smaller and wrinkled. Learnt the difference between currents, sultana and raisins which also had to be tested for smaller stones, as must peas, lentils and beans. Before cooking they had to be carefully washed and any impurities removed. One is asked if he had understood and as always said ‘Yes’ with the great confidence. A senior cook had not given either lentils or rice but a bag of salt to wash. Lad zealously poured into water, only to find that no little stones remained but also – to the general amusement – no Salt either.

On another occasion, a large bowl of Ice Cubes were given to sauté. Other Cook came and gave a kilo of refined flour to cut up fine. Which Lad vainly tried to do. Lad soon forgot his embarrassment at such practical jokes in the thought of being able to play them upon my successors. Lad was now on the look out for such things, but lad had one other occasion.

Lad was taken into the Butcher and given an un-skinned sucking pig, with instructions from the Chef to pluck and clean it. Of course Lad had seen often plucked chicken, partridges and ducks – but a pig. That was something new to Lad. He took endless trouble to pluck hair and remove the skin, until his fingers become more and more painful and lad finely give it up. Onlookers could no longer control their laughter, Lad was rewarded for all his vain by a good slice of Cake. This was the end of the tests. It was only later that I discovered that none of his predecessors had passed them any better than him.

He who is laughed at as an Apprentice, will win Honour as a Master

Published without edit, as exactly said by Chef Manjeet Gill, Father of Indian Cuisine, who has enjoyed every bit of his professional journey. Donning many a hats at the Chef’s Corner, he is happy giving his advice to all the youngsters.

          The president of the Indian Federation of Culinary Association and Corporate Chef ITC Hotels, he has loads of responsibilities, “But this is what I love to do. Helping the young to know the possibilities this profession offers is our responsibility as well.”

          It’s not just the passion for food that makes a good chef, according to Gill; a good vision and being honest as well as ethical is paramount. “With food, we are playing with people’s health. Add to it patience (there are no shortcuts in this field) and be a great disciple if you want to rise in this field.”

          What he loves most about his profession is that it keeps you physically and mentally fit. “One needs to think ahead,” he says.

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