Chef Amar Singh Inda hails from a family whose background is in the hospitality industry. He was born and brought up in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, and had no plans to join the hospitality industry. What happened for him to have changed his mind thus becoming an executive chef? We will be finding the answers to all our questions from the man himself. We present to you Chef Amar Singh, the Executive Chef at Sarovar Portico.
“I initially wanted a Government job but the glamour of the hospitality industry finally managed to pull me towards it. I also had a dream of becoming a doctor and that was the main reason I studied science. But my entire direction changed when I left science and joined arts in 12th standard.”
After completing his graduation with a Bachelor of Arts (BA), he decided to pursue hotel management at All India Institute of Chennai and he joined the Taj. “I completed my hotel management while doing my training at the Taj hotel in 1996. I started my training at Taj immediately after finishing my 12th and at that time I knew and I was very focused towards the food & hospitality industry,” said Chef Amar.
After finishing his training at the Taj, Chef Amar joins the hotel as a full-time chef. “When joining any hotel as a trainee, regardless of what you want to become in the end, you need to have the knowledge of all the departments and I was not special. I worked in all the areas as a trainee and from there I specialized as a chef. I worked in the bakery, cold cuts section, pastry section, butchery and also in the Continental & Chinese sections of the food departments. It was a learning process and as a chef, you need to learn everything regardless of your specialisation in the future. During my 3 ½ year tenure at Taj I went on to become the commis chef (junior chef) and by that time my hotel management course was also over so I decided to move into a new position for new experiences and joined the JP Agra.”
JP Agra is a 300-room luxury property but not a brand like Taj. “There I started as a Commis Chef at the coffee shop in the continental section and from there I moved to Regent Mumbai which was a 508-room property, now known as Taj Lands End. I worked there for one year before I had the opportunity to work in Dubai. When I asked the reason behind moving from one property to another, he said that he wanted to gain as much experience as he could from different properties across the world. “My journey continued and from Dubai, I moved to Iraq and from there I came back to Dubai and worked in many hotels as Chef de Partie. Then I worked at the grand Hyatt Muscat as a Sous chef before moving to the Intercontinental in Kuwait as a Senior Sous chef and from Kuwait, I worked at the Shangri La in the Maldives, then the Radisson in Africa. I returned to India thereafter and worked at the Hilton in Jaipur.”
In Jaipur, Chef Amar started as Executive Sous Chef. “The experience I gained from all those previous positions across the globe put me in prominent positions at Hilton Jaipur. However, the pandemic really changed things so I came to Goa because it’s renowned to be safe and fun to work in.”
Chef Amar joined the Sarovar Portico as an Executive Chef in May 2022. “It is a good brand and I wanted to experience Goa, the place I had only really just heard about. I specialise in Continental cuisine here and I prepare Italian, Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisine too,” said Chef Amar. When I asked Chef about the reason behind specialising in continental cuisine, he said “The opportunities are greater when you work with this global cuisine. But my wide experience always helps me as an executive chef and I understand every nitty-gritty of the kitchen.”
When I asked the chef about his plan of action as far as the Sarovar Portico is concerned he said, “I do want to bring many reforms here and it will start right from the bottom. Since it’s a big task it will take its own time but I have started working towards it. To begin with, I will work on the A la Carte menu, with portions, costing and presentation. As the property is so new, only 3 years old, there’s huge scope for improvement and taking it in new directions.”
Speaking about his long-term plans in Goa, Chef Amar said that he doesn’t want to comment on this yet but he does want to spend more time here. “I don’t have any plans of moving out from this property. I want to introduce many reforms so I will be surely here for a long time but I will not be able to speak about the future since I don’t know what it holds for me.”
Speaking about his signature dishes, chef Amar said, “I have many signature dishes but since we are in Goa and people love seafood, I will speak about Kingfish. This fish is the most popular and everyone likes it.
My first signature dish is the grilled Kingfish with tapenade and the preparation of this dish begins with the marination of the fish with salt, pepper and olive oil. Potatoes are boiled in saffron water and mixed with olives, garlic and onions, fresh parsley with cherry tomato will be used for the base and the fish is served atop this base.
My other signature dish is chicken with walnut, spinach and mushroom. The process starts with frying the olive oil, butter and garlic then adding the mushrooms and spinach tossed with olive oil and walnut powder this mixture will be stuffed in the chicken breast and fried in a pan followed by roasting it in the oven for 20 mins at 180° Celsius before serving it with a specially prepared sauce.”
The chef prepares many dishes for his guests but what does he like to eat? ” Being a chef, I eat pretty much everything. But if you ask me my favourite dish, then as my favourite veg is mushrooms, any dish prepared with them would be perfect for me.”
The Rapid Fire Questions
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself as an executive chef in a well-established branded hotel.
What is the weirdest thing that you’ve put in your mouth?
As a chef, we have to eat and taste everything, but I don’t like octopus yet I’ve still had to taste it because I was cooking it.
Kitchen tools that you cannot do without?
The most important tool is a set of knives and in the absence of those, you cannot cut anything.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My strength is that I am a very self-motivated person. I am calm in any situation and my weakness is my low tolerance for repeated mistakes made by my subordinates- explaining the same thing several times is what I hate. Another weakness I must say is that I’m quite soft and this side of me can get exploited at times.