Chef Ajay Chopra’s love for food has made him a globally recognized chef today. He had headed restaurant chains like Marriott and Starwood. He has even hosted two shows on Indian television. Ajay Chopra rose to stardom when he appeared on Masterchef India. There is a lot to Chef Ajay Chopra than just a Masterchef judge. He started his career way back in 2000. Ajay began his career with the Cecil Oberoi in Shimla. He then joined the Oberoi Center for Learning and Development (OCLD) from where he completed the culinary and management training program, graduating as a gold medallist. His first assignment as a chef was at Kandahar, the Indian specialty restaurant at the Oberoi New Delhi. In addition to Kandahar he was also responsible for the hotel’s banqueting operations as well as the coffee shop. In small chat with Chef Ajay Chopra he candidly speaks his heart out…
What is food for Chef Ajay Chopra
Food for me is passion. It is a gift from God as I was not born with it. Food has been my life, my career, and my inspiration. It is an integral part of me. I’m a Punjabi boy who loves food and everything about it. All the professional training I have received until now has shown me food in a completely different light. Food brings people together. Food according to me is a thread that binds people together.
Tell us something about, Chef Ajay, who is he in real life?
Well no one knows this, but I believe in Christ and the power of salvation. I was born as a Hindu but later went on to accept Christianity. I follow and worship Christ. I play the guitar, I’m married with two sons and most important I love eating dim sums with my wife.
How did Ajay Chopra Turn Chef Ajay Chopra
I was the youngest in my family and as a child I would always go in the kitchen to help. I always had the desire to learn more about food. I have been brought up in small cities, and when we used to go to the dabbas for meals, I used love-watching people giving tadka and I would come home and replicate that. Same was with the Chinese gadis, I used to love to watch the way they cut the cabbage finely and I used to come home and try doing that. I was studying to become an engineer. During that time I had appeared for Hotel Management course which I cleared. That’s when my parents also understood my calling. Within 6-7 months, I decided that I wanted to be a chef. Then I started my career as a prep cook at the very first TGIF. Post that I was working in Shimla and that’s when I got through the Oberoi school. Then I worked at Oberoi Mumbai, Oberoi Banglore and Amarvilas Agra. Soon, I moved to London where I was the executive chef of the Mint Leaf restaurants. Came back to India as an executive chef at Marriot, Goa for a year and that’s when Master Chef happened.
How has life changed post being part of a TV show Masterchef India?
Masterchef has been a game changer in my life. Life literally changed after that in many ways. There are many talented chefs in this country but I was really fortunate that I got a chance to judge Masterchef. Post the show, food has become glorious in India and the chefs creating that magic are called celebs. Earlier people used to refer us as bawarchis but after the show chef are looked upon as celebs.
Which is your fav cusine and where do you like eat often?
I’m really a big foodie. But me and my wife don’t like eating food when we go out to eat. Chinese happens to be my favourite cusine. It is so simple yet so flavorful. In Mumbai my favourite places are Fatty Bao and Yauatcha. If I’m in London then I like going to Zuma.
One dish which you would only at home and never in your restaurant?
I cannot think of any such dish right now. What I feel is food is taking a big turn. Food is going to restaurants now. In fact I would like to reveals the dishes which I take from home to the restaurant kitchen. My Mom makes some amazing Rajma Masala, so after a few innovations to it I turned it into Rajma Galouti. So I do take my home cooked dishes to my restaurants now.