One of the healthiest ways to Gamble is with a Spade and a pack of Garden Seeds ! ๐ŸŒพย 

I like growing my own vegetables & herbs. ๐ŸŒพ I like being able to tell people that the food I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard. ๐Ÿ˜Š

And you know what guys, it really doesn’t require a lot of space. You can grow these beautiful plants in pots, on your terrace, balcony, or a windowsill even ! 

I’ve been growing Lemon grass, curry leaves, chillies, basil, lemon, mulberries, coriander, tomato, capsicum, garlic chives, mint, etc besides a lot of flowering plants & climbers on my small terrace (and 1 pot is dedicated to the small wild birds that love to feast on the fresh Millet that I plant for them ๐Ÿ˜Š)

I haven’t used a single drop of chemical fertilizer or pesticides till date. Just a good mix of soil, coco-peat, vermicompost, & kitchen waste like crushed egg shells, vegetable trimmings, tea leaves, etc. Its such a joy to be able to just go to the balcony & pluck a handful of mint & coriander leaves to make green chutney or for a garnish. Some fresh fragrant Curry Leaves & spicy chillies for a nice Tadka to a simple dal. The evening tea or a nice piping hot bowl of Pho on a rainy evening is made with the freshest most fragrant lemon grass ! Salad made with freshly plucked tomatoes & capsicum. Simple pleasures !

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A Pinch of Patience, a dash of Kindness, a spoonful of Laughter, a heap of Authority, & a Ladleful of Loveย 

This is what a tea break on a normal working day looks like – 

โ€‹

People often think that I visit only fancy, expensive restaurants & hotels, for tastings & reviews. They are often under the impression that being invited for a ‘tasting’ means we just go there, eat for free & then post pictures on social media. 

Well, I wouldn’t blame them for thinking that way, because they do see pictures of expensive places, delicious food & all that jazz. 

So, yes, Food Bloggers do that generally. 

However, that’s just a small part of what I do. 

In case you’re thinking that’s the ONLY thing I do…Lol…NO ! 

I have run my own commercial kitchen for almost 10 years, from where I used to supply baked goodies, desserts & confections to a lot of restaurants.

When I shut down my kitchen after 10 fantastic years of crazy schedules, massive workload, deadlines, & zero personal life, I thought of taking a sabbatical. 

But the constant need to ‘do something constructive & be productive in some way, wouldn’t let me sit quietly at home, for too long. 

It was then that I started taking up assignments for Consultancy & Training in the food industry.

Many restaurants avoid hiring trained staff, due to the fear of paying higher salaries. But what they don’t realize is that they are doing themselves more harm, rather than being ‘smart’. 

If you think hiring trained staff is expensive, try hiring unskilled people !   

So that’s when a ‘consultant’comes into the picture. Someone who can train the staff, set systems in place, right from grooming them, teaching them the importance of personal hygiene, to showing them how to do the dishes, wait tables, serve food, the importance of communication, keeping a check on inventory, & a million other things ! 

So in short, you could say, my work has a lot to do with ‘man management’. 

When readers/followers on Instagram see the beautiful glitzy, glam pictures from events, & tastings, and all those lavish ‘food festivals’, there are also some ‘behind the scene’ pics that they never get to see ! ๐Ÿ˜…

Kitchens are hard environments, and they form incredibly strong characters. 

Some days are peaceful, while some turn out to be real nightmares! 

You have to act as a mediator at times, handle temper tantrums – not just the guests’, but also your team’s. 

There are issues regarding salaries, job profile, leaves, and so on.

Sometimes there are mishaps in the kitchen, & you need to be prepared for the worst. 

So…Coming back to the point, how does a normal workaday look like ? 

Well….sometimes it’s looks like this – 

And some other times, it looks like this – 

Yup….when I’m working with boys from the Cleaning team, the actual ‘Dishwashers’, or the ‘Bussers’, who clean tables, mop floors, carry dishes back to the sink to be washed, or clean tables, set the tables again for the next service.

These boys generally come from economically weaker backgrounds, most of the times they haven’t even  completed their basic education. 

The fancy food served at restaurants is something they’ve never even seen or heard of, in their life. 

They do not understand the importance of personal hygiene, etiquette or communication. That’s where my work begins. At the grassroot level, most of the times. 

People in general, often think that I visit only fancy, expensive restaurants & hotels, for tastings & reviews.

But just recently, I was actively working with a team, comprising of people who have varied jobs in restaurants, right from – dishwashers, technicians, servers, cooks, managers & restaurant owners. 

Which means, one day, I’d be teaching the dish washer guy his cleaning duties, while the next day, I could be telling the cooking team about chopping or ‘Garnishes’, discussing some cooking techniques with the Chef, or speaking with the managers about ‘effective communication’ with the clients; & the same evening attending a launch party with the restaurant owner & a bunch of ‘celebs’. 

The other day, all the boys from the restaurant, where I’m working on a training & consultancy assignment, stopped by at this ‘tapri’ (street food cart) for chai. 

It was the best half an hour of the day, for me.โ˜บ  We ate together, had tea, shared our views on how things need to be changed/improved, & how I expect work to be done, even when I’m not around.

I get to learn so many things from them. So many things we would never get to know, or imagine, living in the cozy comfort of our plush high rise apartments. The smiles on their faces when they realize, that you genuinely want their opinion, is such a nice feeling.

Doesn’t matter if you’re their ‘pack leader’ & have to assign tasks, & be strict at times. For them, to follow & genuinely respect you, the most important thing is that YOU respect them 1st, & be part of their circle. 

Kitchens are hard environments & they form incredibly strong characters.

Yes, on some days my Brunch meeting could be at a 5 * property with the best of sparkling wine, followed by tea at a roadside tapri with these guys. 

And the trick is, to be able to balance both, with just the same comfort & ease. ๐Ÿ˜Š  

SECRETS TO A HAPPY KITCHEN

Kitchen, the center of activity in every home, every restaurant.
A place where happy memories are made everyday.
Some of my fondest childhood memories were created in the kitchen.
Helping (?!) mom bake our birthday cakes, stealing pieces of raw mango while she made pickles during summer vacations, lingering around the kitchen counter while sweets were being made for festivals, and sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night with sibblings, to eat all those goodies.

As years passed by the love of food and the kitchen grew stronger.
Random cooking experiments at home turned into more serious cooking sessions in culinary school.
Passion for cooking soon became a Profession.

I spend most of my time in the kitchen, whether at home or in the restaurants where I work.
Whether you are a professional cook, a home chef, or a homemaker, follow these simple steps, and spread the happiness.

Secrets to a Happy Kitchen –

* A place for Everything *

A kitchen, whether at home or a restaurant, has to be carefully designed.
You have to make the best of what’s available to you.
# Everything should have a fixed place. – This was the most important lesson I learnt as an apprentice.
The Chef I worked for, insisted that everything should go back to its designated place after use, and that he should be able to find it there even if he opened that drawer in the middle of the night without turning on the lights !
Such was his meticulous and disciplined workstyle that you couldn’t escape it even if you wanted to.
Well…we were not allowed to go home until every little thing in the kitchen went back to where it belonged. 😅
But that made everything so much easier the next day.
It doesnt matter if your kitchen is small. If you organise it carefully and keep it clutter free, half the problem is solved.

# There has to be a designated place for items used on a regular basis. This place should be nearest to the work counter.
Salt, sugar, tea, coffee jars are most commonly used ingredients. They should be at hand always.

# Lesser used items like Pasta, dried beans, unopened cans, etc can be stored away, in a darker corner.

# The most widely used container in any Indian kitchen is the Spice Box.
Oil, Ghee, Spices etc should be kept in one place.
Imagine the chaos if you have to run around gathering mustard seeds, chillies or turmeric for a ‘tadka’ while the oil is hot and smoking away on the stove !
Simplify things. Have all the essential spices in one place, neatly filled in a Spice Box.

# Tags & Labels –
Its always better to use ‘see through’ jars, so its easier to find what you are looking for, at a glance.
However if you do not have them, then its best to label the jars, so that you dont waste time opening all of them to find something while you are busy cooking.

# Having a tray/container with compartments for Knives, Spoons, Forks makes it easier to find everything in one place.
Designated place for Glasses, Plates, Equipments and Tools also makes it easier for you, as well as family members (or kitchen staff) to locate things even of you are not around.

* Light and Ventilation *

Having ample light and ventilation in your kitchen is a big plus.
However if thats not possible, use colours and lighting that make the kitchen look bright and happy.
Dull colours, dim lighting, and stale air make the kitchen look gloomy and unwelcoming, which definitely has a negative effect on your mood while cooking.

* Safety in the Kitchen *

# Always have a fire extinguisher at hand.

# Keep tissues, kitchen towels, and other flamable items away from the stove area.

# Avoid curtains for windows that are near/over the stove area.

# Regularly check wires and knobs of equipments, to avoid any accidents. Also check the gas cylinder tubes and regulator every few days.

* Clean and Germ Free Kitchen *

# I’m very particular about this aspect, whether at home or the restaurants where I work. Cleanliness is of utmost importance, to maintain a healthy and germ free kitchen.

# Keeping anti-bacterial soap near the sink, clean wipes, daily cleaning of the kitchen counters and floor is very important.

# Kitchen towels get damp and soiled and are an open invitation for germs and bacteria. Its therefore very important to wash kitchen towels thoroughly with hot water, and change them daily.

# Clean out storage cupboards regularly. Throw out any items past their expiry date. Clear out any clutter that could possibly be a breeding ground for cockroaches or pantry moths.

# Have regular pest control routine to keep ants and cockroaches away.

A kitchen is the heart of any home.
It’s where most of our daily nutritious meals are prepared and enjoyed with family. Its a place where memories are made, that are cherished for years to come.
Keep your kitchen, and your family healthy & happy, always !
โ˜บ

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