By Ruchira Hoon
It wasn’t until he found himself elbow-deep in a barrel of rosgullas that 19-year-old Sabysachi Gorai realized that he wanted to be around food for the rest of his life. That was in 1993. Since then there has been no looking back for this talented chef.
Now, at 42, he’s been voted as India’s best chef, had his own TV show, worked with some of the best names in the industry and owns his dream project – Lavaash by Saby, a quaint Armenian-Bengali restaurant in New Delhi.
“I was totally dazzled by the glitz and the glamour of the hotel industry in the 90s. Little did I know how much hard work actually goes into it,” says Chef Saby, as he is popularly known as. “Between cleaning the toilets, hazed by the seniors, washing the pots over and over again, I’d had almost given up being a hotelier. But then, when I started cooking, it was as if I had belonged here forever.”
Saby started his career with Hotel Accor and then went on to work with Mahindra Holidays Resorts. He became the Youngest Executive Chef, at 26, of South East Asia’s largest entertainment centre “The Bowling Company”. However, he’s best known for his almost decade-long stint as the Culinary Director at Olive Bar & Kitchen in New Delhi.
“I realized a couple of things while at Olive – we really lack the basic skill sets in India. We don’t teach our budding chefs about knife skills or what vegetable comes from where, “ he says. “Which is why the Olive Culinary Academy was something I really felt strongly about. This is where I taught people how to go back to the basics and become a better chef.”
It’s the basics you can’t fault Chef Saby about. You have to see his skills at making an Omelet to believe it. Or folding an Omelet. In fact, he adds, if there was a competition in flipping omelets, he’s about a 100 per cent certain he’d win.
“This is why I encourage everyone to learn. Whether you’re a home cook or a trained chef, food can give immense pleasure if you just put in the effort, “ says Saby.
So what are the top three things he recommends for Home Chefs out there?
- Embrace technology
“Technology is your friend. It will make your life easier. For example if you have a blender with various attachments, use them all.”
- Learn new styles of cooking
“Baking, braising, grilling are all quick cooking techniques. Don’t be afraid to learn them. You’ll realize all you really need are different sauces to make your meal simpler.”
- Ready to use isn’t a bad idea
“Just make sure you use it as a base and finish with something that you give a personal touch to. For example, you can add spinach puree or beetroot puree to a ready-made pasta sauce and make it your own.”
Checkout his Foodbook on BetterButter