Chef Shibiraj Saha brings Creativity to the table without compromising on quality. Chef Shibiraj Saha is an Executive Chef at Holiday in Candolim, Goa Having 25 years of experience in the Food industry, e has worked with the leading hotels in India. He loves exploring new places and learning about local cuisine. According to him, every city has its own speciality and authentic food culture.
Tell us something about your journey and How was it for you to move to Goa?
I have spent the last 25 years in this industry working with some of the best brands like Hyatt, ITC, Sheraton, Taj Group of Hotels, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, and Intercontinental groups of hotels (IHG), Radisson and Sarovar group of hotels.
I have worked in different places in India from Chandigarh in the North to Cochin in the South. I love exploring and experimenting with the local cuisine and learning about the authenticity and food culture of every city I visit. This is my first time working in Goa and there is so much to learn about this beautiful place and its food culture.
When did you realise that you wanted to become a chef?
I used to fantasize about cooking looking at my mother and investing so much time and passion in every dish she prepared. Whenever she cooked up a dish, I would rush to her side and ask her how to prepare it. She would then guide me and explain about flavours and spices and every detail that went into it.
Tell us more about your tenure and journey at Holiday Inn
I have been with Holiday Inn Goa Candolim for the last four months. It’s been great learning about Goan culture, places, food, people and of course Goan feni (laughter). In the last few months, we have curated and introduced different events to give our guests a unique culinary experience. For instance, our Sip N’ Munch Sunday Drunch has been extremely successful which offers an extravagant buffet spread with a perfect mix of handcrafted cocktails presenting live stations, a kids’ play area, live music and much more.
Also, the recent event Cha Piyonk Yo in collaboration with Mini Ribeiro was such an encouraging experience for the guests as well as our team. It was a distinctive blend of two cultures, popular Goan dishes with a twist of Bengali flavours. A few highlights from the menu were Singhara, Kochuri, Prawns cutlets, Pan Rolls, Cutlet Pao, Alle Belle, Kokum Sandesh and more. We are working on many such projects to bring creativity and innovation to excite our food connoisseurs & guests.
What are your signature dishes? Tell us more about it
DumPukht & Awadhi cuisines of India are my specializations. DumPukht cuisine involves very slow cooking with meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. I love the idea of slow cooking as it traps and enhances the rich flavour and aroma of the dish to tantalize people’s taste buds to the maximum.
What is your personal favourite cuisine?
I am from Bengal and my love for Bengali food is never-ending.
What’s the dish you enjoy cooking the most?
Mutton Biryani, I like how it brings different flavours to life. No biryani tastes the same, the chef/ person brings the flavours to it
When it comes to eating, as a person what is your comfort food?Simple home-cooked food, dal and roti make my day. And especially if it’s prepared by my mother or my wife.
What are your biggest strength and your weakness when you are leading a team?
Strength: My leadership quality, creativity, adaptability, and enthusiasm. All these qualities are so important in our profession. Gone are the days when we look at only authenticity. Now it’s all about new twists, and creativity that chefs bring to the table without compromising on quality.
Weakness: I like to focus my energy on one thing which sometimes might hamper my other decisions.
How did you keep the momentum going with your team during the low phase due to COVID-19?
Covid 19 was a very difficult period for everyone around the globe. The hotel industry was impacted in a big way. It was important to keep the passion and zeal for cooking alive. I was in regular touch with my team for any kind of assistance in those difficult times. I also, engaged in online training for my colleagues to keep up with the challenging times and not give up on learning.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF 5 YEARS FROM NOW?
I want to be a corporate chef in the coming five years
WHAT WEIRDEST THING YOU HAVE PUT IN YOUR MOUTH?
I have tried frog leg. It was SUPERB!
KITCHEN TOOLS YOU CAN’T DO WITHOUT Knives!
I or any chef like to carry our own knives.