Ex. Chef Kundan Kumar Jha, Hathi Mahal, Goa

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”- George Bernard Shaw
The above one liner briefly summarises the success story of our renowned Chef Kundan Kumar Jha. Our Ex Chef Mr. Kundan Kumar Jha who is a native from Bhagalpur, Bihar has studied in Tamil Nadu and later in Kolkata. Having lived in different places with cultural diversity, his culinary journey also reflects that cultural diversity. At the age of 46, our Chef Kundan is a culinary veteran with almost three decades of experience in different aspects of Indian Culinary industry.
He did his hotel management course from IAM, Kolkata. During his college days, he was doing outdoor catering in banquet for the Taj group, the Oberoi Grand and the Park Hotels in Kolkata as a part of his curriculum. That was the time when he had a gut feeling of trying his hand in culinary arts in the hotel industry. The parties organised by those hotel groups had different culinary themes such as Chinese, Japanese, German beer festival. He later did his professional training at the Raheja groups Retreat hotel in Mumbai for six months. He had the privilege of working with celebrated chefs such as Chef Sunil Awasthi and Chef D’Costa in 1993.
He had joined Dalmia Resorts and did his hotel operations training for two years in 1996. In those times Dalmia Resorts was the first timeshare hotel in India whereas in itself is a vacation property with shared ownership. Afterwards he joined Karma Group where he had served his longest tenure of career until now. The Karma Group of Hotels has its properties in Germany, Bali and Australia and our Chef got the opportunity twice to work and travel to Germany. In Germany he organised the Indian Food festival. He also had his hands on training for the German cuisines as well. In Bali, Indonesia, the Karma Group has seven resorts and Chef Kundan got an opportunity to work there as well and learnt from master chefs how to cook dishes from the Balinese cuisine. There also Chef Kundan did not leave any stone unturned to promote his Indian culinary skills
Our Chef Kundan got his roots of culinary mastery from his mother and he says that his mother is his sole inspiration for him choosing this section of the hospitality industry. He narrated that since his father was employed in PSU, which was a transferable job and therefore he had the opportunity of travelling a lot via train and living in different places across the country. Mr. Kundan says that every second junction on the routes would have a different taste and flavours of food. Having lived in the diversified cultural areas, the culinary skills of our renowned chef reflects that diversified flavours and tastes. He desires that as a Chef he should grow along with his culinary team. They should excel in regional as well as continental cuisines.
He also added that in day to day operations, particularly in Goa retaining the staffs is the biggest challenges faced by the hospitality industry management. The Goan youngsters are more inclined towards working on the cruise rather than the hotels and resorts. They prefer a job on the cruise over any hotel or a resort.
On being asked what additions can be made in the curriculum and teaching methods for Hotel Management colleges in India, Mr. Kundan said that in hotel management colleges in India, they have limited exposure. They should organise different kitchen themes and organise different regional food festivals such as Mexican Cuisine food festival. They should train them for bulk cooking instead of one or two portion cooking. They should be trained to manage banquet functions and how to handle quantity kitchens. They are at par with ala carte or one or two portions only.
The only mantra to excel and suffice in this industry is to learn the authentic recipes and do not apply shortcuts for recipes. Ex Chef Kundan keeps himself updated for new cuisines by media and social media. His group of hotels was the one to bring the first Mexican restaurant in Goa by the name of Poco Loco which was a grand success. He follows many celebrity chefs such as Chef Atul Kochhar who is the first Indian Michelin Star Celebrity Chef.
He says that the young chefs can prove their mettle in this industry by following the authentic recipes and not manipulating them. For example the authentic Mutton Rogan Josh is a Kashmiri cuisine and a particular Dried Herb by the name of RatanJot is used in its preparation. But most of the restaurants prepare it without that spice. So the authentic flavour and colour is lost. In order to get the things right they should emphasise on the authentic flavours of food and only the trained chefs should be making it.