I Am a Lasagne Person With Too Many Layers and Emotions - Chef Priya Gupta

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1. Tell us about your background & your journey.

I belong to a neutral business family. I was always a good grade student. An all-rounder who managed academics and co-curricular activities pretty well. In my 11th and 12th standard I opted for non-medical, then I did my bachelors in industrial chemistry from Chandigarh and soon after my BSc, I started pursuing CAT/MAT coaching & scored really well.

On May 18, when I was supposed to fill the forms for the further MBA studies, my mom was not ready to send me far away from her. So the plan for MBA was dropped the same day. Then one Monday, on June 18, my father casually asked that what other than MBA you want to do?

I was really blank. After few minutes he said, "Why don't you pursue your passion?" and I said, "What?!" He said yes go for it become a CHEF. He said this at 12 and by 3 I searched few academies and visited two of them. On Thursday of same week I was a student of Hotel management. This is how my journey to be a chef started on point. Then I completed that by August 19 and became a Certified chef. Now I am studying in Gurgaon and running a business named as Fernculinary hub.

2. What led you to take this career path?

I was always interested In doing experiments in kitchen since I was 14. I was in 10th standard when I used to cook things in bulk for my classmates And my friends and this continued till I did my graduation. I loved to cook for myself and for others as well , even in PGs And flat I never asked anyone to cook. While I was doing my BSc I took some weekly classes from home baker based in Ambala.

Then I started taking short classes from there only and started doing a bit of baking stuff also. Then when my mom refused to send me to Dehradun for MBA, me and my family decided that I will opt for hotel management. Though I did that from Chandigarh but I was travelling daily so my mom was happy enough that I come back home.

So basically my mum led me to take this career path and my father supported me in the same. Honestly, I am the most happiest person doing my job and serving people through Fernculinary makes me feel proud and happy. 

3. What does your typical day look like?

Due to this lock down and Corona pandemic, my friends asked me to serve them with my skill. So I started serving people with bakery goodies and culinary classes. My day basically starts at 10, I wake up, take a bath, get freshen up and then I go to my workplace after having my breakfast nearly about 11:30, then I start baking or decorating the stuff which has been ordered for the respective day.

As soon as people pick up their orders, I am free mostly by 5, sometimes 8, completely depends on the work load. Then I get back to my place, check my mobile, reply to messages and calls. From 8 to 10 it's my family time. After 10, I bake some orders and goodies for the next day and I go to sleep as soon as my baking finishes around 1 or 2 and that's why I wake up at 10.

4. Does ones approach change when cooking professionally and at home?

It definitely changes one's approach as cooking at home is according to you, your taste, your method and your choice of variations but when you are cooking professionally you are supposed to make standard recipe, standard taste, standard methods and you can't variate it according to you. We are supposed to make standard dishes as there are many kinds of people who visit a restaurant and we really cant judge whats the choice of each person.

The most important thing is the tips and tricks which you only learn when you cook professionally or you work in an industry. At home also we learn a lot but what we learn while working in hotel industry is what makes a big difference. So working at home is completely a different deal then working professionally. Being a chef is not that tough but its not that easy too.

5. Is there a dish you particularly associate yourself with?

I Associate myself with lasagne, it is a baked pasta dish with so many layers (7-8) with different ingredients and sauces. Each layer contains a new ingredient, a new taste. One Layer is spicy, another is mild, one is full of veggies and other is salty.

Basically it contains so many flavours & textures and in each bite we have bunch of flavours bursting in our mouth. So basically I am a Lasagne person with so many layers and emotions which are piled up together. Some days i am hardworking, at some points i am lazy, sometimes i am sad, some days i am joyful. So I call myself a bundle of mixtures, hence, lasagne.

6. Can cooking be learnt at culinary schools or a natural talent is required?

Cooking is basically a natural talent, a passion you dream to follow and culinary schools are meant for the same but they teach you the specifications, more of knowledge and they are to expertise your talent in a much better way. See when you are home chef, you know various things but when you are a certified Chef you are supposed to know all the various things.

So in all you need talent and willpower to be a chef along with the culinary certifications and knowledge.Neither of them can be given more weightage "both are equally required ". You can't cook good if you are just making a dish you learnt at culinary school but if you are making the same dish with all your heart and passion in you it will automatically come out good & tasty.

7. Which is your favourite book & why?

As such I don't follow or have a favourite book of any chefs or dishes, but I do have many chefs in my favourites list and the recipes as well. I try to search good and new recipes whenever I get time , it might be a great chef or a home chef  doesn't matter, the recipe has to be different and unique.

Chef Vikas Khanna, Chef Ranveer Brar, Chef Kunal and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor are the topmost chefs I  follow and recommend their recipes too. They are Great Chefs , amazing humans and moreover their knowledge matters the most . Each  of the recipe will come out perfect whether you see the video or you read the recipe out of any cookbook.

Their experiences & knowledge is a must learn thing. And there are many home chefs who work really hard & really well and the recipes are meant to be tried . So I don't pick any book or particular chef  but I do try to search as much as I can.

Interview By - Sonam

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