‘Nothing is impossible’

Motivated by her father, Sheraton Hotel New Delhi’s Sous Chef Aditi Chatterjee is constantly learning and does not believe in resting on her laurels

What or who inspired you to become a chef?

My father has been an inspiration for me ever since I understood the art of cooking. Sitting on the kitchen platform on a Sunday morning, he would guide me while cooking. He let me put the ingredients into the cooking pot, took me to buy groceries, and taught me the finer nuances. All this created a fascination for culinary arts in my heart and soul.

Challenges are a part of anything and everything you do in life. Being a woman in the industry was a challenge in itself as it demands a lot of physical strength. But when you are determined to do something, nothing is impossible. 

In your hectic schedule, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the success of male chefs?

Men dominate this industry but there are many women who have found success on this path. I have had the pleasure to work with some fine chefs, both men and women, who have set examples and these have been motivating me to continue on my path. 

In your opinion, what is the reason that there are more males than females in commercial kitchens?

Historically, women were always confined to the home kitchen, taking care and nourishing the family. A commercial kitchen demands a lot of physical and mental strength which was thought to be lacking in women.

What does a female chef bring to the hotel kitchen?

Women are naturally born to be nurturing, caring and are known for their powerful intuition. While life is a mix of yin and yang, I think there is a beautiful balance when there are female chefs as a part of the kitchen team, as creativity and productivity are enhanced. 

With many home chefs and bloggers launching their own food channels, what do you feel is the future for women in this industry?

With the coming of Covid-19, we have seen a rise of home chefs in the last two years. This has created a new path for a lot of people who do not work as professional chefs, but the love for food remains the same. Opting for a career as a professional chef is an individual choice, and they can make that decision after weighing the pros and cons.

Do you look up to any women chefs?

Two strong women who are a part of ITC have always been an inspiration: Chef Manisha Bhasin and Chef Madhu Krishnan. Working with and around them is always challenging as they push you to think beyond the usual and support your decisions. Other lady chefs who have been inspirational are Tarla Dalal, Madhu Jaffery, Nigella Lawson, Poh, Kylie Kwong, Clare Smyth, Garima Arora.

How do you maintain a work-life balance? 

Being a professional chef demands a lot of your time. I like to plan things well in advance and keep my team informed of the same. This helps me get some “me time”. I have also recently started gardening. Music is something I can’t do without. Good food, good wine and a pleasant evening with friends and family are what I look forward to. 

And the road ahead…

To be better that was I was yesterday. Learning, growing and passing on what I have learnt at every stage of life. 

Tip to minimize food wastage 

  • Recycle, reuse and cook only what you need. 
  • Buy fresh and use it the same day. 
  • Use a bio enzyme organic cleanser with orange peels, jaggery and water. 

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Ambica Gulati
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