Chef Rishi Verma has established a prominent position in the highly competitive world of cooking through his successful career in the culinary industry.
“Arabisk London” hosts Chef Rishi Verma in an exclusive, intriguing interview to discover the secrets of the culinary world!
Interviewed by: Baidaa Qatlish
- Rishi Verma is one of the most well-known figures in the culinary industry; describe him in your own words.
I am a very focused, dedicated & passionate towards my food & my approach is always very detailed oriented.
- How did your interest in food start? Why did you decide to pursue this career?
I was always interested towards food from my Childhood. I was very fond of eating & absolutely loved the aromas & flavours from my mothers kitchen. When I was growing up , I never knew that a career can be made in Food industry due to very less awareness about professional culinary courses, but only when I was finishing my School I got intouch with one of my Seniors who persued Hotel Management & from there I started looking out for best colleges & landed up with WGSHA, Manipal.
- Indian food is perhaps one of the most significant in the world. What, in your opinion, sets it apart from other cuisines?
I would say it is the Diversity in the country, which makes it so different. Back home every 100Kms you travel, the Landscape changes & so with that the culture & the food. This is what it makes it so special. The techniques used in Indian cuisine in many of the dishes takes years to master. The multiple complexities needed to balance the final flavors of the dish & as A chef you need to understand the role of each & every ingredient, Spices & techniques to bring flavors together.
- What foods do you enjoy making?
I must say the Curries. For me cooking the curries is an Art, Every curry made by someone has a part of their soul in it. Which makes them so unique. Pastry is something which always gets on my Nerves.
- How do you infuse modern cooking techniques with Indian culinary traditions?
As per my opinion, before breaking down any dish & infusing with modern Techniques, A chef needs to understand to keep the soul of the dish intact. I always try to keep the overall experience or the Nostalgia of the dish intact, By playing around how the dish is perceived. But in the end when someone will take a bite of it, It will straight away give them a Nostalgia & they would be able to relate with something they have tasted before.
- What were the biggest challenges you encountered while working as a chef?
I think the most difficult stage for any Chef who starts is the Initial 5-6 Years when you work at the ground level. You are bullied by your superiors, have to work long hours 16-18 hrs a day, fill in the positions, because your superior wants to take a break & you just put your head down & learn & absorb. But towards the end I think these challenges faced is what makes one a very Sorted Individual to deal with challenges & groom more talents in future.
- How do you believe cooking may affect culture and intercultural communication?
Food has the power to bring people of different cultures together. The best examples can be Holy month of Ramadan, Easter month or different festivals celebrated by different communities. All have one thing in common, The food is very specific to their beliefs & people gather around to enjoy the feast.
- What do you think of the popularity of Indian cuisine abroad?
I believe it is the most popular cuisine in the world, Mainly because of the bold flavors it delivers. One will find an Indian Restaurant in every corner of any city in the world. I believe it is also because of the large no. of immigrants & people working as an expat in different countries & given that India is one the largest populated country in the world, The cuisine has to be the most popular too.
- Your move to Kuwait in 2018 was a significant milestone for you. Tell us more about this stage, and in your opinion, what are the similarities between Arab and Indian cuisine?
Moving to Kuwait, opened my understanding of Middle Eastern style cooking. This is where I believe lot of Indian Mughal style cooking techniques originated from. There are similarities in Rice dishes, Curries & more or less the community style dining of Arabs relates to our culture too. This is what Makes me feel at far home away from my home as the culture & the eating habits of the local people are very much relatable.
- How will food generally develop in the future?
I believe it is very important to take your culture forward, I believe this is the way forward & we have already started seeing in many of the Best restaurants across the world. The successful restaurants always have a story to tell, which makes people get attached to & feel the nostalgia of their memories & connect with their community.
- What factors do you find to be most crucial when selecting and using components in your cooking?
Accessibility to the ingredients chosen is very important, I feel its always good to stick to the community around & try to cook with what is available around the restaurant as a source. Going with Locally sourced ingredients menu is always better than going with all imported ingredients.
- What fundamental skills should a competent chef possess?
I must say that a professional culinary degree is a must, as it enables one to develop basic fundamentals & skills required to do the job, In addition one needs to possess a passion for the profession to succeed. As one must know that being a Chef is a demanding profession, Both Mentally & physically.
- How do you stay current on developments in the culinary world? How do you make sure your list is consistently updated?
I think social media specifically Instagram keeps us updated, I follow lot of influential Chefs across the Globe, which helps me get inspired & develop different products for our menu.
- Can you provide guidance to young persons looking to enter the culinary industry and hone their skills?
It is very important for anyone entering this industry to have a solid Education in Culinary, to polish your basics. Once you enter the industry , I believe that one needs to act like a Sponge for first 5-6 years of their Careers & learn as much as possible, Also it is very important to work under Some Great Chefs, as it will enable you to think differently. The last & the most important thing is to always stay Humble. It will take you a long way.