Hrishikesh Desai, Lucknam Park

The Staff Canteen
Hrishikesh Desai

Hrishikesh Desai discusses his role as Head Chef at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Hrishikesh Desai

Place of work: Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa

Role: Head Chef in the cookery school

Bio: Hrishikesh has worked as a Chef and teacher at Lucknam Park in various roles, winning the Roux Scholarship in 2009 and the National Chef of the Year award in 2010. He is passionate about flavours, his love of food having stemmed from his childhood travelling around India and his mother’s home cooking.

Follow him on Twitter here: @dhrishikesh

Chef Skills

Hrishikesh Desai takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

For almost 6 years now (2 years in the Brasserie, 2 years in the Michelin Star and 2 years in the cookery school).

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

1) Listen carefully to your teachers – they have amazing knowledge which will help you understand what to expect once you become a professional Chef. If on a stage or internship then listen and respect your seniors. They will guide you the best way possible.

2) Read good books written by professionals as it will widen your knowledge and will help you think in a better way about hospitality. Do lots of internet research to understand the hospitality not only in the UK but in Europe and elsewhere.

3) Be very very disciplined and stick to it. Always remember there are no shortcuts to hard work which is the main reason why many fail as they do not want to work hard.

4) Think of what you want to learn and find ways of learning it. E.g.: If you want to learn more about butchery then spend some time with a good butcher on your day off. This will make you better prepared for the future challenge.

5) Above all enjoy hospitality, smile and find solutions, be positive and take one thing at a time.

What are the main things that young Chefs should be doing in order to get jobs in the hospitality sector? 

Young Chefs need to read good cookery books and understand basics of gastronomy rather than jumping the ladder straight to molecular gastronomy. Another way to gain more experience is by taking part in competitions as this will put them out of their comfort zone.

They should be ready to work hard; they should listen to their seniors and leave the egos behind. This will take them very high up in the ladder; after all without hard work, you will never know how to cook a good stock and what makes a good stock!

All young Chefs should save a little money and utilise it by eating in a good restaurant of their liking. This broadens their knowledge of cooking. E.g. If someone prefers gastro pub style food and wants to pursue that sort of cuisine in the future then the saved money can be used in eating in good gastro pubs. This will help them a lot.

Young Chefs should keep their eyes wide open while food shopping, this will enable them to understand how much food cost, what is available in the season and finally where to find what.

Finally, be disciplined!

Who are the key Chefs and restaurants that someone should be speaking to and trying to gain experience with?

Any well-established Chef highly regarded as a good Chef by his peers and friends (not due to TV appearances) is an ideal person to gain experience with. My Executive Chef Hywel Jones is one of them but there are plenty others.

Any other tips from a cookery school perspective?

The cookery school is a fun way of interacting with the guests and learn how to cook. To be in this position you need to know the basics very well but never lie to the guests as eventually you will be caught. For a young Chef this can be a good opportunity to experience the cookery school way of working as the exposure received changes the personality. The cookery school is definitely a 9 to 5 job and it equally requires discipline to achieve a smooth running of the course.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th March 2017

Hrishikesh Desai, Lucknam Park