IN CONVERSATION WITH CHEF SUNIL MARWAH, DLF5’S GOURMET GURU
How would you describe your job?
It is a great feeling to be associated with DLF5, one of the world’s best locations to reside in. This makes my job so much more challenging and interesting. I have to cater to customers who are the very best in their respective fields, and are exceedingly aware of good quality products. This requires me to constantly innovate and work on new ideas. All this requires a lot of creativity and understanding of the fast changing trends in food and beverage industry.
DLF5 residents are discerning. How do you go about meeting the expectations of these well-traveled, well-informed, well-‘palett’ed residents?
Well, the job of a chef is all about passion. It is such an adrenaline-kicking experience to meet the expectations of our guests when they find out that we are not only serving quality food available anywhere in the world, but also serving dishes that are only exclusively available in DLF5.
From innovative soups to desserts, to creative mocktails and cocktails.
I am given very good support from my company to upgrade the knowledge and skill set of myself and my team and keep abreast with the latest trends. Self development courses, subscription to high-end food and beverage magazines and newsletters, opportunities to visit well-known restaurants in the city, and spending time in our kitchens to carry out research — we are always given the environment to do more.
Our colleagues are very happy to be our guinea pigs and most of the times they are not disappointed! This helps us in changing our menus regularly and offer new mouth-watering dishes to our customers. It is always our endeavour to exceed customers expectation by offering them new menus at short intervals and organising food and beverage promotions, to keep their interest in our food on going.
Whenever I travel to a new country, I love to explore the streets for local delicacies. This helps me establish the authentic taste and flavour, which can later be modified to suit the five -star environments.
Some of the places where I have enjoyed delicious delicacies are Florence in Italy; Chambery and Dijon in France, besides the delectable confectionary of Paris; handrolled chocolates in St Moritz, Switzerland; Clam Chowder in Boston, surprisingly excellent Chinese food in San Francisco, New York’s street food, Bangkok street food, and fish head curry in Singapore. I have lived in Jakarta for three years and was amazed at the variety of their local Indonesian foods.
What are your specialty cuisines?
I am from an era when the French haute cuisine was being taken over by the Nouvelle cuisine in our country, in the late eighties (though in the West, this transition happened in the mid 70s). Despite the fact that there were very limited opportunities available in our country at that time, and only very few top-line hotels spent money on their chef’s trainings, I developed a lot of interest in French cuisine. But had no instructors.
In the early nineties, I moved to the luxury cruise liners in and my destiny brought me in contact with two very knowledgeable French chefs who were my seniors. I had my tutors now. I had no doubt in my mind that this is the cuisine I want to be an expert in. I will continue to have a special love for French cuisine although, over the years, many new World cuisines have taken over people’s palettes and fancies. I also grew into handling kitchens as an executive chef so it was indispensable for me to gain knowledge of all cuisines.
ITC ready to eat foods gave me an insight into the authentic Indian regional cuisines. This was so overwhelming that I betrayed my first love (of French cuisine), and started enjoying cooking Indian food. My love for Indian food took me outside India to countries like Singapore, Indonesia, China and Thailand, where I was attracted to earn the gorgeous green dollars but the experience taught me about new cultures and cuisines.
Today, I am proud to test my hands on different dishes from different cuisines, but it is a well-known fact that the first love always remains special!
What has given you the biggest high while working in DLF5? What would you say is the favorite part of your job? And what has been the biggest challenge?
My biggest high while working in DLF5 has been getting regular accolades from our members at the DLF Golf and Country Club and Club5. The favorite part of my job is to create new dishes and new menus that give me the opportunity to learn more about food. My biggest challenge has been to keep our costs under control for delivering good quality food, while fighting the ever-growing inflation, which is taking our raw material costs through the roof. But our company’s philosophy has been to offer best quality food at very reasonable prices to our customers who have shown great faith in DLF, and have come to stay with us in DLF5 as a family. In return, we go out of our way to offer them a lifestyle, which is unmatched.
Any interesting interaction or demand that you have had from a DLF5 resident?
A resident required a menu where the chief guest had a very severe nut allergy and the host’s daughter, who was getting married, had severe lactose as well as gluten intolerance. She asked us to prepare a menu for 120 persons with no gluten, lactose, and nuts included in any of the dishes.
The kitchen was not supposed to have any nuts anywhere in the cooking area, so severe was the person’s allergy. It was a great challenge!
What do you love cooking the most personally?
I love to cook seafood. It is a very delicate meat and one has to be very careful with what kind of spices and condiments one is using to not tamper with the ‘actual’ flavours of this delicate meat.
Cooking seafood is an art. Slightly overcooked and the meat becomes rubber like. Slightly undercooked and it doesn’t taste good. It is a luxury to cook soft shell crabs, lobsters, scallops, squids, mussels, and fish like salmon, red snapper, pomfret, and sea bass. After spending time in South East Asia, I have realised that one can create wonders with seafood in pan Asian cooking styles. I personally try my hands cooking these crustaceans either in Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese style.