Opportunities Today : February 2007 Issue

INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

 

 

Satish Arora
(Director of Food Production, Chef Culinaire Taj Group)

 

About the Awards
Lifetime achievement award category was introduced two years back by renowned Curry Club. This year the award panel nominated Chef Satish Arora for this prestigious award, based on:

1) His contribution to the hospitality industry developing so many high quality chefs (who are all over the world).
2) His contribution to the Indian Hospitality Industry and to the Taj Group.
3) Bringing Chefs profession in forefront in India.
4) His involvement in success of many restaurants in Taj Group.
5) Developing the new upgraded menus for Airline Catering.

 

About Curry Club Awards
Curry Club was founded in 1983 by Mr. Pat Chapman. He also originated Good Curry Guide in 1984. Today this guide is the only Indian Restaurant Guide in the U.K. Pat Chapman has pioneered the award ceremony in 1992 to honour and recognize the best of best whether it is food, restaurant chef, etc. His company also brings culinary groups to India as tourists. They visit popular hotels and taste authentic food. Chefs from different hotels give group demonstrationsÖ.

How he made it to the top !Satish Arora was born in 1947 in Delhi in a Punjabi family. His father Shri Om Prakash Arora was in civil service. In his school days he played truant and was caught even playing marbles instead of being at school.

 

At the age of 16, in 1963 when it was time to choose his career, his low percentage was the great cause of concern for his family. As luck would have it, one of his friends brought for him prospectus of the New Delhi Catering Institute. Much against his fathers wishes he opted to join Catering College as he was fascinated by cookery, bakery, food and beverage - subjects dear to his heart and tummy.

Much against his fatherís wish, Satish was admitted to that college. It was a turning point in his life. Coming top of the class each year, he was the college's first student to get a distinction for his Hotel Management & Catering Diploma. It enabled him to join the elite kitchen brigade at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel as a trainee. After ten months he was sent to Germany for a further year's practical training. On his return he was promoted to the highly prestigious position of Sous Chef at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel, India's top hotel under Executive Chef Mascarenhas.

After a span of 6 years when his boss- Executive Chef Mascarenhas retired Satish was given the position of Executive Chef. At just 26 years of age and with only 6 years in the hotel, Satish became the youngest Exec Chef in the world at a 5 star deluxe hotel. The going was tough, but Satish gave it everything. He was always first to work at 0630 am and last to leave at 1 am after locking all cold rooms and closing all gas valves.

He married Sushma in 1972, She was a home-science student from Delhi and a very good cook at home. With her full support Satish enjoyed and advanced in his career. As luck would have at this stage Taj also started expanding from one hotel to today's 55 Indian hotels and 15 overseas. It was Satish who established the in-house chef training systems that such expansion required. His individual achievements are too long to list here, but one highlight was in 1983 when he was in charge of all cuisine for a summit meeting of 48 Commonwealth Heads of Government in Goa for which Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi personally thanked him. Since then he has cooked all over the world for Queen Elizabeth and Queen Beatrix, numerous Princes, Prime Ministers and Presidents (including Clinton, Gorbachov and Mitterand) and an A-list of celebrities.

 

In 1985 he was appointed Chef Culinaire Taj Group and in 1990 he was promoted to Director of Food Production, where his contributions include reinventing Taj's in-flight catering at Mumbai airport.

Satish's son Puneet Arora works in London for Bombay Halwa as Production Manager and Executive Chef and his daughter Kanika is a Mumbai fashion designer. 90% of the chefs now working in the Taj the chain, and a good many more in London, the US and Australia were trained by Satish personally. They are the world's top chefs, and it is therefore true to say that no one has done more to bring Indian food to public awareness, yet there is no more modest or more dedicated person than Chef Satish Arora.

During my 40 years of culinary journey with Taj Group, there are certain memories I cherish always. I share a few of them.:

My First Day: 1967 September- I was selected as a trainee chef. My first day in the kitchen was difficult. I waited outside Chef Mascrenehas Office to tell him that I have joined his kitchen as a Chef Trainee. He was so moody that he did not look at me till 5 pm. I stood there without food. Next day he gave me 100 kg onions to peel and 100 kg boiled prawns to shell.

 

Going Abroad: 1968 July- When our General Manager Mr. Ajit Kerkar told me that I am selected to go abroad for one years training. I was just 9 months in the hotel.

Promotions: 1973 April- I was made Executive Chef of Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, To take over from Mr. Mascarenhas who had put in 50 years of service. After the announcement by the F & B Manager, Mr. N.B. Dauwala, I had tears of joy. I was just 26 years old.

Challenges: 1973 May- when I had my first interaction with stalwarts of kitchen who were humiliating me always thinking that it was the managementís mistake to make me an Executive Chef. I went to the most difficult Chef De Partie in Hot fish section to tell him to make Pomfret Bonne Femme for the lunch buffet. He ridiculed me. I banged on the steel worktable, and made pomfret. This drama continued for 3 days and then all old cooks accepted me as their boss. Probably they wanted to see if their boss was a hands on Chef or not.

Participation in Growth: 1974 onwards my involvement in Development of chain as Taj started expanding. I participated in kitchen planning and training the staff.

Pat from the Great: 1983- CHOGAM (COMMON WEALTH Heads of Govt) Retreat at Goa. I was responsible for looking after 38 heads of Government. Each one having his or her dietary instructions. At the end the reward was Mrs. Indira Gandhi patting my back and spoke to Mr. J R D Tata over the phone to tell him how wonderful the last grand buffet dinner was Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (then PM of UK) signed my chefs cap in appreciation.

Gold Medal: 1988-I got a Gold medal in Japan where I participated with Taj Chefs Team in Culinary Olympics in Okura Hotel.
Serving the who is who: I was selected by management to go to London to take care of a state Banquet by Indian president Venkatraman to the entire royalty and who is who of Britain. I was presented to Queen Elizabeth, Duke, Prince Charles Lady Diana, Margaret Thatcher and others.

Airline Catering: 1999 I was appointed by Singapore Airlines on their Culinary panel as Chef advisor for Indian kitchen. I was on this position for 8 years.

The Ultimate Award: 19 December 2006 Awarded International Life time Achievement award in London Hilton by Curry Club of UK. I spoke in front of 800 professionals from the Hospitably Industry.