Nimish Bhatia, Food and Beverage Specialist Consultant & Chef at Silver Bullet
Mr. Nimish Bhatia has over 30 years of experience in the Hospitality Industry. For the past 4 and a half years he has been mentoring, opening restaurants, helping hotels and helping chefs as a consultant or as a mentor or as a chef. He is always happy to call himself a chef. In the past 4 years he has helped open 27 restaurants around the globe. Prior to that, he was the Corporate Chef at the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group for a good 13 and half years, taking care of a dozen of hotels in India and even opened several hotels for them all over India. Even prior to that, he worked as an executive chef for a few years at various hotels like the Le Meridien, Intercontinental Hotels and the Radisson hotel. He also has the experience of working in flight kitchens as well as hospital kitchens and learnt a lot about nutrition and health in these places.
He says, “It was a wonderful journey to learn from so many people. When I became a chef I didn’t realise that it would be such an amazing journey. I remember, during our time, there was no internet, so you would have your diary where you would take down a few recipes for future reference. Our profession is the type that you need to prove yourself everyday to be remembered by your peers and your customers. We do not have an emblem or a certificate that certifies us to be good chefs. This is the only industry where you get to experiment and make a mark of your own signature.
I always thought of learning and growing and then giving back to the industry. I did my a course as a Lead auditor in Food Safety Management in 2006, during a time when people did not even know what food safety management was. Food safety was brought into India somewhere in the year 2011 or 2012, whilst HACCP I learned in 1996 .
Mr. Bhatia believes himself to be lucky and fortunate since he grew really fast in the industry. During those days an Executive Chef would be of the age of 50 years or above while he became an Executive Chef at the age of 32. He always asked himself ‘What next?’ People suggested that he should be a Corporate Chef. So when he did become a Corporate Chef, he was very happy but like the saying goes ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’. A little time later, after becoming a Corporate Chef, he realised that he was not doing what he really wanted to do. He wanted to cook but as Corporate Chef he had 20 people who were ready to cook for him and offered to do it for him. So I ended up missing the kick and excitement of being a chef.
This led Chef Bhatia to open his own restaurant. “People told me that the life of a Corporate Chef was perfect for me and that I should not leave it. But my heart and my mind would not accept it. I wanted to open something that is unique and not geographically bound and something that could not be compared. I created the menu for aspect cuisine for my restaurant. I was doing well there too but then I wanted to do more again so I joined the industry by taking up consultancy projects to start a restaurant in Los Angeles and another one in San Francisco then Delhi and then in Bangalore.”
Chef Bhatia also expressed, “With Covid-19 I feel like the industry is in a situation like the story of Alice in Wonderland. Everyone is asking ‘What is happening?’ They don’t know what they should be scared of, whether the fear or the uncertainty of what we are fighting. We don’t know what is going to happen and when it is going to happen is an even bigger question mark.”
When asked about his passion he replied, “To be a chef drives me. I got connected to chefs and as I got connected I got inspired. Chefs as chefs. So this whole family, this fraternity of chefs is where I find myself an extended family and the whole leadership of chefs which is something that mesmerises me. We need to refine what exists and that is what inspires me. There are a few thousand of ingredients and even fewer cooking methods but the number of dishes you see coming out in the world today is enormous. It is never ending. I did a research on 39 regional cuisines in India and each cuisine is different from the other. There are further varieties of these cuisines within each state. Cuisine connects you. It is not bound by geographical boundaries. It has been my passion to understand what food is worldwide. Food today is getting commercialised. The competition is not between good and bad but it is between good and good and there cannot be better anything than good. There may be many good shacks in Goa currently but if you want to stand out you may serve a little different than all others in your competition add pizzas to the menus or Italian or Indian food. That is what is driving chefs in hotels and restaurants.”
Chef Bhatia has had number of years that he has spent in making connections. At The Lalit he headed 1200 chefs which is a quite a huge number. He was associated with Chefs as Chefs because this is the community he knows. In his apartment building people may not know him but in his community and in his hotel, people know him and wish to connect with him.
“I believe learning from one and other is wonderful way of connecting with people and leaving your mark on them. Chefs trust me and I trust other chefs. Nothing is regular in our industry. Normal is always boring. We have to create the element of surprise. The whole world eats kebabs that are hot but I started this venture called Thande Kebabs meaning cold kebabs. Basically it is timed fat , cooked kebabs, chilled and redressed, it cooked be lamb, seafood, vegetarian or so amounts to a thanda kebab. Every few Kilometres the recipes changes the cuisine changes or even the salt does.”
The key secret to his success is that he is always inspired. So his advice to his reader is, “Keep getting inspired. One should not feel that he or she has learnt everything. Be happy to learn and to transmit it back. You have to be serious too but that is only when you are learning. Everyone has got their own personal connect to food, be it chefs or others. They each have their own opinion about food. Grow, learn and cook some fantastic food. No doubt people will copy it, so you work on something new every time. Even during these hard times I wanted to learn what is food processing. So the thirst to learn and grow and do something new is what keeps me green.”