A well-rounded professional with an exceptional background and 12 years of operations and people resources experience in culinary management, leadership, and innovation, Chef Joel Murzello currently heads the Fisherman’s Wharf chain of restaurants as a Brand Chef. But let us get to know the man behind the chef a little more.
AM – Tell us something about your journey?
JM – In my previous assignments, I have worked with IHG, JUMEIRAH RESORTS, STARWOOD GROUPS and am currently with AVERNIA INTERNATIONAL RESORTS LTD as the Brand Chef for The Fisherman’s Wharf and The Red Ginger, where our mission is to provide a memorable dining experience and service to our guests.
AM – when did you think that you wanted to become a chef?
JM – As a child, I was always fond of cooking with my mom and grandmother at home. I enjoyed experimenting with new as well as local dishes. So, the chef calling was there in my childhood. Also, five of my cousins are chefs- so it was in my blood and family. When I expressed my interest in becoming a chef at an early age, my parents first wanted me to finish my studies and then think about it. After my 12th grade, I joined Rizvi College for my Hotel Management. Naturally, the first year was a bit difficult in the industry but by the second year, I started developing more passion for cooking and things started falling into the right place.
AM – What is your personal favourite cuisine?
JM – Right now my personal favourite cuisine is Goan cuisine. Living in Goa has made my love for the cuisine grow fonder. I find it an extremely delicate and versatile cuisine because even if one follows the same recipe/ masala it will vary from the same dish prepared in a different kitchen. The Cafreal you eat at one place will be completely different from the other. I love this experience of getting something new on my plate each time.
AM – What’s the dish you enjoy cooking the most?
JM – The dish I enjoy cooking the most is Pasta. I have learnt the nuances of cooking from Italians and I can literally dish up 10 types of pasta using the same sauce. It is definitely a dish I love cooking.
AM – When it comes to eating, as a person what is your comfort food?
JM – My comfort food is noodles. I quite enjoy making noodles in the middle of the night and love to play with the flavours.
AM – What is your biggest strength and your weakness when you are leading a team?
JM – My biggest strength is my passion, and my weakness is also my passion. When I enter the kitchen I go all-in with 100% dedication. Sometimes things don’t go as planned or a customer is not fully satisfied, so at that point in time, I feel that my passion and my desire for perfection is both my strength and weakness. Sometimes it’s important to remind oneself to be imperfect and let go.
AM – How did you keep the momentum going with your team during the low phase due to COVID-19?
JM – Things weren’t easy especially when we shut down the restaurant during the first lockdown. It was difficult to guide the team as well because we had no idea what we were getting into or how long it would last. But we all kept in touch with each other, providing the much-needed mental support and holding on to hope. When things got better, we opened up but yet again, taking things one step at a time to revive the business. Unfortunately, we had to face the second lockdown in no time. It was a setback for sure, but we all waited it out, excited to start again and give our 100%. We did have to reduce our staff a bit, but given the situation, such decisions had to be made. However, I am glad we all made it through these challenging times and now look forward to a better future.
AM – Where were you born?
JM – I was born and brought up in Virar, on the outskirts of Bombay ( I am basically an East Indian) and completed most of my education in Virar itself.
AM – How was it for you to move to Goa?
JM – I did not feel much of a difference between Virar and Goa, since Virar evades the hustle-bustle of the main city. It is a quaint place, where the pace of life is similar to Goa’s. I adjusted with ease.
Rapid fire questions
AM – Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
JM – 5 years from now I see myself as a better person, growing to different heights and career-wise, becoming a better cook rather than becoming a better chef.
AM – Weirdest thing you have put in your mouth?
JM – The weirdest thing I have put in my mouth is a live octopus
AM – 5 kitchen tools you can’t do without
JM – 5 kitchen tools I can’t do without would be a basic chef knife, a whisk, measuring spoons, a weighing scale and a good pan.