This is a story of a young chef who started her journey into the food industry from the tender age of 4 and today she is a Chef at one of Goa’s top restaurant brands – Fisherman’s Wharf – where she prepares Goan cuisine. This is a very interesting and inspiring story for all those who believed in their dreams and the path they chose. Normally we cover all the Executive Chefs in this section but for the first time, we have decided to introduce you to young chef Kimberly Pandey.
The Beginning of the Journey
Kimberly tells us “I was introduced to the industry kitchen from the age of 4 as I was always travelling with my dad, also a chef, and that created a fascination about being a chef from a very young age,” says Kimberly adding that she even made a chef costume when she was just four. “I always saw my father in a Chef’s uniform and as a young chef, I remember running around the kitchen checking what’s happening. Most of the senior chefs at the Holiday Inn and Fisherman’s Wharf knew me!”
“I developed an interest towards what ingredients were being used in the kitchen and what was baking in the bakery,” said Kimberly, adding that she also watched her mom cook, tasting the raw ingredients and seeing what she is making. “According to me, as a homemaker, all the moms have their own style of cooking and each household has a very special outlook towards the food. So, I must say that I have incredible influences around me from both my parents.”
Although she has been fascinated and influenced from her parents, Kimberly has her own interests also in the culinary field. “For me, it’s always been about discovery: I love testing new things and discovering new foods and I went with the flow,” she said.
Entry Into the Food Processing Industry
Kimberly’s father, Chef Ranjeet Pandey, is a Director of the food production with Holiday inn while her mother is a homemaker and doctor. Kimberly went into the science stream after her SSC and then she continued her graduation at IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) in Porvorim. “After finishing my graduation from IHM, I joined Taj for 5 months as an intern and then joined the Holiday Inn as a management trainee and that was the time I became sure that this is the field in which I want to make my career,” said Kimberly adding that she is very grateful that she did science. “According to me, food processing is all about science: if you break down cooking, it’s all about science, it’s chemistry, it’s biology and it’s also physics.”
Currently, Kimberly is working at Fisherman’s Wharf, Mobor, as a Goan Chef handling the Goan cuisine. “I tried to be as authentic as possible. I learn from the Goan chefs who have worked across the globe and brought home their stories, their ingredients and their recipes,” she said adding that by learning with them she understood how masalas work for the curries. “I love working with seafood and I thoroughly enjoy that. I love the smell, texture and taste of different seafood. According to me, each fish has a different taste and different texture to offer.”
Kimberly believes that the food industry is very challenging. It’s different from the corporate industry where we do jobs stuck at a desk, and in fact, it is a very physical, skilled and intense industry. “You have to put in a lot of effort and some problems are very usual like working for long hours, putting in lots of hard, physical work. This industry is very much male-centric and male-dominated industry and when a female chef tries to make her identity, she has to make the extra effort. There are some extra hours and extra strength that you need to put in. There is a lot of pressure that you go through but it is definitely worth it, because when you come out each day the satisfaction of the little achievements is immense,” she said.
Kimberly tells us how she’s come across a lot of people who come to try the Goan cuisine at Fisherman’s Wharf. “Let me tell you that I have seen them pleasantly satisfied,” she said adding that the “masalas that we make here are so different from outside Goa and within the state, we have so many different kinds of masalas, so many different kinds of flavours and at our restaurant, we try to strike that perfect balance between all the different cultures that we have here in Goa and definitely there is huge, positive feedback from the guests saying that they loved every bite of it,” she said.
“Coming to the criticism that I face in my day-to-day work is from my dad,” said Kimberly adding that her dad tells her about minting the quality, “I love that positive criticism because quality comes above anything else and it does not matter how long you take and I like that about him. He keeps telling me that every meal that I put out has to be my best meal. The criticism also helps me in improving myself and I know what to do and what not to do: it also keeps that inquisitiveness alive in you.”
The Signature Dish
Kimberly shares with us her signature dish which is Pomfret Rashad Masala. “As I said, I love to work with seafood and my speciality is Pomfret Rashad Masala that we serve with fresh Goan Poyee (Goan wholegrain bread) and Goan salad and I consider that as my signature dish,” she said adding that the Pomfret fish is grilled with the Reshad masala stuffed inside. “That is the authentic way of doing but some guests prefer it to be cut into little pieces and deep fried, but authentic Pomfret Reshad is stuffed fish with the masala.”
Kimberly was also into baking for a short period of time. “The experience there was wonderful, but I have been baking at home for a long time since for me it’s basically free therapy. The chef’s life is very fast-paced and baking slows you down for some time. I made Pasta de Nata, a Portuguese custard tart, and posted on social media which went viral in no time. It was made in a traditional manner with laminated pastry. I spent the entire night doing it and it turned out amazing. You can call that my signature dish when it comes to baking,” said Kimberly.
Nurturing the Hobby
Besides being a chef, Kimberly is also an artist. “I love painting and I keep painting food-related stuff on the canvas. I am very passionate about the same. The painting gives me a lot of satisfaction and I do it in my me-time,” she said.
The Way Ahead
Kimberly has plans to keep learning a lot from this industry and when she feels that she has nothing more to learn she wants to enter into the entrepreneurial sphere by establishing her own brand. “For me, working with my father has been a very challenging task but at the same time I also developed strong focus and vision,” she said adding that she has a never-say-die attitude and she never compromises with her duties. “In this industry, efforts are taken for granted. While this industry is quite competitive and labour-intensive, there is a lot of effort and love that goes on behind the scenes, which people don’t realise. Working hours are long and chefs tend to put their whole soul into each meal they cook and I would want that eventually the world sees that and appreciate it.”
Kimberly thinks that the younger generation who come into this industry are defiantly very passionate. “They come into the industry because they are passionate because they are willing to put in the work hours and I would like to tell them that hold on to your passion, do your best, and each meal should be the most incredible thing that you’re going to serve. Put all your love and hard work into it. If this is your dream, go ahead, chase it and achieve it and take yourself up there,” she concluded with that.