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Meet the chef: Sidney Dcunha, executive chef at Conrad Pune in India

By Jyoti Balani on 9th February 2021

Chef Sidney Dcunha joined Conrad Pune in India in June 2019 as the executive chef of the hotel. While being responsible for the day to day operations of the kitchen, chef Sidney has also strategically strengthened the hotel’s positioning as one of the most sought-after dining options in the city.

He carries with him 18 years of culinary experience in established hotels as well as those about to launch. Prior to joining Conrad Pune, Sidney worked with J W Marriott Mumbai Sahar. Previous to that, he has worked with the Taj group of hotels in Mumbai, Delhi, New York, Boston and Ritz Carlton Bangalore.

Sidney said he looks forward to the winter season in India as there are a lot of fruits and vegetables that grow locally

Chef Sidney is a great team player with a professional and practical approach. He not only leads the team, but with his honest and transparent demeanour, also mentors them to grow from strength to strength. Sidney completed his hotel management degree from the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai. He is an avid football fan and loves watching matches in his free time, as well as spending time with his five-year-old daughter. We caught up with the chef to talk all things food.

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

Each season has its own set of local produce to offer that is exciting. As a chef, for me, the season I look forward to is the winter season in India from November to February. This is the time when we have a lot of exciting products that grow locally, in terms of vegetables and fruits. Some of the vegetables that are my favourite this season are fresh Jowar (Ponk/ Hurda), fresh green peas, green tuvar. My all-time favourite is sarson ka saag with makkai ki roti. If we speak about fruits this season I can think of berries especially strawberries.

‘Each season has its own set of local produce to offer that is exciting’

What would you do if you weren’t a chef?

Back in my college days, I was very interested in cricket. So, I guess I would be a cricketer if not a chef.

Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?

At Conrad Pune, we have six different dining venues for our guests. Most of our restaurants have their own identity for example Koji for Pan Asian, Zeera for North-West Frontier, Kabana for comfort food. I do have my inputs on the way the food needs to be cooked and presented to guests.

For special wine dinners, Sunday brunches and wedding events, I do curate special menus, which complement the seasonal produce also.

There are six different dining venues at Conrad Pune, serving up a variety of tasty foods, including these mutton chops

What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?

The most overhyped food trend is anything which claims to be ‘low fat / no fat / sugar-free / zero-calorie anything’ this kind of food or drinks may not contain sugar or fat but has some other form of chemical which is also harmful to your body in the long run.

When are you happiest?

I am happiest when guests relish the food they have had in my hotel and the second and the most important for me is the time I spend with my wife and daughter.

Some of Sidney’s happiest times are when guests relish the food they have had in his hotel

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?

I spend time with my family, love painting with my daughter. On my days off from work, we go skating or wave boarding together. I am a total foodie so is my daughter, we love trying out new restaurants in the city, especially if the desserts are good, then the restaurant is definitely on my list to visit.

Where is your favourite place to dine?

I have been in the industry for 18 years now; I am not choosy about the places I eat as long as I have good company. However, if you say favourite I like the food and quality of ingredients used at Conrad Pune.

For any dish to taste good, the quality of ingredients matters the most. To make a good Belgian chocolate pastry one does need to use Belgian chocolate and not a compound.

‘For any dish to taste good, the quality of ingredients matters the most’

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

My favourite takeaway or comfort food is dim sums and stir-fried dishes.

Name your favourite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.

The two cities, which I absolutely love, are Mumbai and New York. I have lived and worked in both these cities and draw many similarities in the pace of life. The food scene in these cities is the best.