Chef Sunit Sharma boasts a humble and down-to-earth personality. His journey of two decades in the culinary world has given him enough opportunities to become a celebrity chef by all means but he has remained humble, calling himself a student of the culinary industry where still he’s learning every day.
“I am nothing: it’s the people around me who make me feel important by coming to me and learning from me, said Sunit adding that “they are the ones who give me an opportunity and I just deliver. I haven’t achieved much and I am learning a new thing every day. When I read about how the food industry had evolved with time, how the migration of people has spread awareness of various cuisines, and how the food has changed over centuries, it is not even the tip of the iceberg that we know today and whatever things I have learned in my 25 years journey, I think I am just doing my bit to serve.”
Chef Sunit believes that food & hospitality is such a vast field that has endless possibilities. “There is no limit to how much we can do in this field,” said Sunit adding, that however big the jump is, it still feels that we have not reached the goals. “I am doing my bit and 25 years have passed since I finished college, but still I feel that it was just yesterday, while in reality, so many years have gone by and this happens because of the endless possibilities. There is so much to do and so much to learn.”
Sunit is a first-generation hotelier and culinary expert and this has been passed on to him by his mother who was a very good cook. “I have developed an interest in cooking due to my mother. My mother was a very passionate cook and was a very hospitable person: she knew how to welcome people and feed them with mouthwatering food,” he said adding that among 3 brothers he is the one who developed an interest in cooking. “My mom was always a vegetarian but she would still cook non-veg for us. She used to make eggs for us and now I am a preferred vegetarian but I still make and taste the non-veg food I make. The life of a chef is such that he cannot stay limited to one segment of food.”
Chef Sunit maintains that there are no cultural and religious barriers in food. . Sunit had done his initial schooling at DBMS School in Jamshedpur from where he moved to IHM Hyderabad to complete his studies in Hotel Management. “After completing my 3 years course at IHM in Hyderabad I was placed at Taj Hotels in Bangalore, through campus interview, as a hotel operations management trainee, and from there my journey into the hospitality industry began,” said Sunit.
Sunit started his journey into the culinary world as a trainee chef at Taj Bangalore and he went on to become a fully-fledged chef in charge within 5 years. “Then the Taj hotels transferred me to Yemen on deputation and after completing my 2 years contract, I came back to India and joined the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai,” said Sunit, adding that from Taj Mumbai, he was sent to Aurangabad on deputation to teach young students at Taj Residency in Aurangabad. “After working a total 12 years in the Taj Group, I resigned and went abroad but soon I came back to India and joined Planet Hollywood in Mumbai as an executive chef, but due to the terrorist attacks, the plans of Planet Hollywood in Mumbai were scrapped and I was forced to move to Pune and this became the turning point in my life. The Pune project of Sheraton Hotels was a pre-opening and that gave me the idea of dealing with pre-openings and renovations then I decided to move to Goa in 2012, where I did the work of renovating the complete kitchen setups and from there I decided to move to my own space and left Cidade after working with them for 4 years.”
In 2018, Sunit left Cidade to start his own entrepreneurial journey into consultation. “In the year 2018, I, with my wife Vaishali, started a consultancy firm called Modern Hospitality Consultants,” said Sunit adding that his wife is a partner and she looks after the room booking section, and he looks after the food & beverages part. “We currently work as a consultant for various food & hospitality brands. We not only take up new projects but we also upgrade running businesses in the F&B sector. We do everything right from the audits to training, destination weddings- basically anything related to the food & hospitality sector is within the ambit of our work.”
In just 1 ½ years after Chef Sunit Sharma started his entrepreneurial journey in food & hospitality consultancy, the pandemic hit the world and the entire hospitality industry was shut down. “The major issue was the investment in the industry which has come down substantially due to the lockdowns. Food and beverage is a high-risk taking business but now from January onwards, things are back on track and the future seems to be very promising,” he said.
Chef Sunit also did lots of social activities during the pandemic like delivering free food to the poor and homeless during the Covid times. “We need to do the community service and this I had been doing for a long time, pandemic or no pandemic, but during the pandemic the situation was different. Shops were closed, restaurants were shut, people were jobless and homeless and in that situation,” he said adding he was doing this even while he was in a job. “We realized that we had the resources to feed people so we had just reinforced what we were doing earlier but on a larger scale.”
According to Mr. Sunit, although his journey has started in Goa, he has plans to go out of Goa to cater to the bigger market. “After the pandemic, we have realized that we cannot keep ourselves limited to Goa and we want to spread the goodwill across all the states in India and maybe across the world too,” said Sunit, adding that Modern Hospitality will be going worldwide soon. “I would say that we have been very partial to Goa since we have been here for a long time, almost a decade, and lived a very good ‘susegad’ life in Goa and now it’s time to take Goa to the rest of the world. If the world comes to Goa then why can’t Goa go to the world?.”
Talking about Goans migrating abroad, Sunit said that he has seen lots of Goans leaving Goa to settle down abroad, “But I have not seen the cuisine going with them. I am really surprised to see that everyone loves Goa but why is Goan cuisine not available in those places? According to me, it’s high time to address that concern,” he said, adding that he has been in Goa for the longest period of time compared to any other state. “I believe that we have become Goans. I have a few things in the pipeline and you will hear about these ventures soon.”
As a consultant, we play a very important role in the business which doesn’t subside over time, Businesses will keep needing us from time to time, just like a family doctor. We are associated on a long-term basis with the businesses and we are the resident consultants so our expertise and knowledge is something that is always required,” said Sunit, adding that the owners know that what he brings to the table is invaluable. “It is not just that we go and deliver once and the work ends there. It’s a continuous process and the brands have realized the value of us – the consultants – and they want to work with us on a long-term basis.”
According to Sunit, if someone has a passion, this is a great industry to be in. “This is a very rewarding industry. It may not be initially, but one has to stick around for some time to get recognition and if that happens then only the sky is the limit,” said Sunit. “This industry has its own rewards- it gives you the opportunity to travel, it helps in developing your personality and these are the bigger benefits of the industry than just monetary benefits. This industry is growing very rapidly and many brands are getting involved here more than ever before and things are only going to get better with time, and Goa is a growth story for sure.”