Chef Owaize Ahmed Khan, Radisson, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

A renowned internationally acclaimed chef just at the age of 32 only, Chef Owaize Ahmed Khan is surely an inspiration for all in his cadre. In his 12 years span of career in culinary industry he has worked with big brands not only in India but overseas as well. Born and brought up in Chennai, Mr. Khan studied Diploma in Food Production at IIHM, Chennai. The reason to choose food production was because he has always loved to cook food. Later he also did a MBA to add value to his qualification.

He started his journey in the culinary industry from the Leela Kempinski, Mumbai as a trainee where he worked for more than two years. Gradually he got an opportunity to work in Emirates Airlines, where he managed the day to day affairs of Emirates and other Convention Center, catering to requirements of 4000 guests, preparation of food for business and first class sector (around 20,000 meals per day). Later he also worked consecutively for Hyatt Regency, Shangrila, Rixos Hotels, Emirates Palace, Jumeirah Hotels in Abu Dhabi, Dubai. He then got the PR for Australia and there he worked as a Head Chef for the Star Casino, located at Darling Harbour Sydney which is the one of the finest casinos of the world. Then due to some family reasons, Mr. Khan came back to India.

In India, he peeped into the Indian hospitality industry at Sheraton Grand where he had the privilege of starting a Mediterranean restaurant. With his meticulous work, he got to take the brigade forward by working as the Head Chef at Radisson Blu, Mahabalipuram near the beautiful shore temple where he is currently managing a team of 58 chefs under him and two beautiful restaurants along with 14 banquet halls. Chef Owaize had aspired to be a pilot, but destiny had the cards of being a celebrated chef for him. He narrated an emotional incident of his childhood when he was in 4th standard and made chapattis in the absence of his mother for his father who was asthmatic. This incident and his father’s appreciation motivated him to take up culinary field as his profession. For the young chefs who want to excel in the culinary industry, Mr. Khan recommends to work with discipline and lots of passion. A chef should not work for the monetary benefits only. Instead he should put his heart into every dish he prepares, and then only he can come up with something extraordinary. He feels that by being aggressive in work; a person becomes more passionate about his work. And a passionate chef is more innovative and gets new cuisines to life which brings profit to self as well as to the organization.

In the culinary industry, a chef needs to be more flexible with time. As there is no fixed working hours for them, Mr. Khan advises that the young chefs should utilize their time to the fullest extent and every time learn something new. Learning and innovation should be never ending. Chef Owaize’s key to his success is his passion and meticulous work. He is always in favour of maintaining his personal and professional life. The biggest challenges faced on a day to day basis in the culinary industry are the customer satisfaction, different attributes of a customer’s behaviour, interaction with the at-times fussy customers. To overcome these challenges related to the customers, the chef should be proactive and be able to interpret the customers in the right way. When a customer walks in to any restaurant, even the right body posture of the staff makes an impactful difference.

To handle any negative feedback from the customers, Chef Khan says he makes it a point to attend to it personally by interacting with the clients and sorting out the things to his level best. It is the emotional bonding with the clients that makes them give good reviews about the staff as well as the hotel. The first stand is to apologise, try to calm down the heated discussion in an early stage and connecting with the clients emotionally are the techniques to handle the guest challenges. The basic mistake what a chef normally does is that they get over exaggerated and eventually loses perfection. No matter whatever the work load is, the chef needs to work with passion as well as persistence. Once the food comes out of the kitchen and is served on the table, it should be delicious, properly textured and palatable. The chef should not be over confident of their skills and be always focussed and innovative.

On being asked about how he keeps himself updated about the current trends and techniques, Chef Khan simply quotes that he is nowhere without the mobile network. In brief he says that being techno savvy and active on social media helps him to be updated. If authority permits, Chef Khan would like to make few changes in the curriculum of IIHM as in implementing modern techniques of learning things instead of sticking to just the basic plan of teaching. For e.g. bringing international chefs to the college premises to give the young team a world class exposure. They should be taught invariably and not be confined to their course curriculum. To make a mark of his culinary art in the hospitality industry, Chef Khan believes that his hard work is the secret. At Hyatt Regency he recalls, he has made 25 dishes in one shift without any helping hand. Sharing personal knowledge invariably amongst the chefs can set a benchmark to reach new heights in the hospitality industry.