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Meet the chef: Celebrity chef and TV host Akshay Nayyar

By Sharmila Chand on 30th September 2018

Awarded as the most celebrated Chef in U.A.E in 2016 by Ministry of Chambers of Commerce, Government of India, 30 years old Chef Akshay Nayyar is a young and energetic celebrity chef and entrepreneur who is passionate about delivering excellence in the culinary arts.

Chef Akshay was the Master of the famous ‘Guinness World Record’ “Khichidi” event along with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor at World Food India 2017 in New Delhi, and is proud to co-own restaurants like Kopper Kadai in Delhi and Bangalore, ‘Tum Tum Asia’ in Dubai; High end Fine Dine ‘MITRA in Dubai; ‘Nutriobox’ in Delhi and Gurugram.

Besides hosting the Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and crown prince of Abu Dhabi H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in U.A.E, Akshay is also the face of Middle East’s biggest reality food show “FOODSHALA” over the past 6 years endorsing over 20 prominent FMCG brands. He is now expanding his self-owned restaurant brands across Asia and Middle East.

Akshay specializes in Modern Indian, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Oriental and a bit of Arabic Cuisines. He has recently designed a completely ultra modern Pan Asian Vegetarian menu for ‘Tum Tum Asia’ Dubai.

Milestones:

Won “Entrepreneur of the Year 2017” at 3rd Middle East Hozpitality Excellence Awards in Dubai.

Master of “Khichidi” making event under Chef Sanjeev Kapoor at World Food India 2017 which entered Guinness World Records.

Winner Indian Restaurant Awards 2017, under the Best Regional Indian Cuisine (Restaurant in North) category for Kopper Kadai, Delhi

Ranked at #8 in Caterer Middle East’s power 50 list 2015

Part of the 1st CATERER MIDDLE EAST RECIPE BOOK featuring recipes for UAE’s top 70 Chefs.

Author of FOODSHALA KITCHEN COMFORTS COOK BOOK – 2015

Dahi Key Kebab is one of Akshay’s delicious vegetarian starters

In a candid conversation, he talks more about himself and his work:

Tell us about your stint with TV. Do you enjoy cooking more or being a TV Host?

Being on TV is more like a medium of expressing my real self. To me it’s a way to connect with my guests by showcasing my cooking style, flaring recipes and food for thought.

While cooking is my passion, training is my responsibility! Cooking on TV shows my chef side whereas judging is equally interesting as I see people perform on things that I have trained them on.

Tell us about your impressions of Delhi’s and Mumbai’s food scene.

Both Delhi and Mumbai are completely unique in their cuisine and flavor offerings but one things is very much common i.e. “Love for food, some seriously good food”. There has been huge demand for food in both cities, from hawkers to fivestar food both cater to its own set of loyal customers. Following this many new brands have popped up and are trying to entertain their diners in a playful manner. What makes it merrier is flavors from both these cities are tongue tickling.

Being it paanipooris, chana bhaturas of Delhi to Mumbai’s vadapao or ussal missal, both cities create a moment of unforgettable tasting emotions. It’s like a craving that takes you back to those favorite dining spots where you relish such delicious food. On the other hand modern F and B, luxury dining has taken a front foot amongst diners who earlier used to travel across globe in the hunt of good food experiences.

A dish from Delhi that you’d like to introduce in UAE?

I would be very excited to take Cheelas and Kulfis to a wider audience in UAE. These are 2 delicacies that you hardly find in UAE and require a lot of perfection to get the recipe right.

What is your cooking philosophy?

Cooking is not rocket science but definitely a science. Cook methodologically, add love as an ingredient and you will never fail.

Which is your favourite cuisine ?

I love to eat Singaporean food.

What advice do you give to amateur chefs?

Cooking is a story that must be created with your own skills, ideas and chosen method. Every chef has their own way, follow many but perfect only yourself

Oats and vegetable upma is a popular main course

Tell us about any book you have written?

One of the most interesting books that I have written is ‘Foodshala kitchen comforts’ which was based upon recipes from my show. The best part about this book is that one will never find anything usual in it. It’s like a journey of a chef with innovative recipes and jaw dropping presentations.

Tell us about your inspiration for cooking? From where do you get the inspiration?

As a 7-year-old kid I always enjoyed watching cookery shows, eating out. My mom used to make amazing dinners over weekend only because I never wanted to eat that usual dal, rice and chapatti. My inspiration comes from reading about gastronomy, watching culinary shows and cooking for my diners. My diners today inspire me to create things differently for them as they always look forward to some new recipes and unique dishes.

Tell us about your idol in life?

None other than Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, having worked very closely with him my fantasy to cook changed into a professional cooking art. Another great chef not to be forgotten is Chef Marco Pierre White under whose guidance I honed my European kitchen skills and love for great ingredients.

Lessons learnt in the kitchen?

You come on time but there is no time to leave.

Treat it like a lab, experiment to create the uncreated.

There is no “may be in life” it’s either a yes or no!

Chefs are like army men, discipline is a chef’s disciple.

You are nothing without your teammates.

How do you like to de-stress?

I love to go for short getaways, unwind over playing drums or cook for my family.

What is your dream?

There are many but the biggest one is to be a recognized chef known for creating recipes which becomes my legacy for future chefs.

Last meal on earth, what would you choose?

Dimsums with mouth watering dips and sauces

Images courtesy of akshaynayyar.com