Meet Chef Sandeep Supkar. Currently working as Executive Chef in Sandals Grande Resorts & Spa － Antigua. Sandeep has 20 years of experience in this industry. He is an expert in creating recipes, seasonal menus, and training kitchen staff. Sandeep specializes in western cuisine and modern contemporary presentation. Apart from being a passionate chef, he loves food photography and videography. He was the youngest executive chef in celebrity cruises. The chatty bear team interviewed Chef Sandeep for Chatty Bear Chefs Unplugged.
Q1. You had science as your subject in school. What inspired you to become a chef?
Yes, I had science as the major in school, but soon I understood that it is not for me. I wanted to do something different and joined hotel management, where I developed a passion for cooking and aspired to be a chef. After 20 years here I am.
Q2. You have done recipe planning for Sandals Grande Resorts & Spa. Tell us about one of your recipes which is your favorite.
The one recipe which is my favorite is crab cake with aioli sauce. This simple dish is so fresh and when it’s fried with panko bread Crum, it just tastes heavenly.
Q3. Recall a time you handled a situation with a disappointed customer.
There was a guest, who has several special dietary requirements. On the second day of her vacation, she wanted to have a meeting with me with the dissatisfaction of the poor attention that she has got so far. Immediately I took over and understood her requirements. Personally took care of her the entire remaining stay and she went home extremely happy. We are still in touch.
Q4. Many restaurants offer a season-specific menu. Tell us about the thought process and efforts it takes behind such very specific menu creations.
A seasonal specific menu gives a lot of freshness to the food. There is a huge difference between and freshly plucked tomato and canned tomato. It’s much healthier and flavorful. Before embarking on such a project, you need to know what to do, and also what not to do to make it work correctly. It will require much more thought and work than creating a permanent menu, but it keeps your menu fresh and interesting when updating several times a year instead of once every few years. This gives variety to the customer. But your training program for the staff has to be on pint along with your SOP and standard recipes.
Q5. How COVID-19 situation has affected your work and how are you coping up with it.
Like the entire world, COVID has also affected me a lot. But I have made sure that all the protocols are in place and both guests & team members feel safe. Have removed all the self-service buffets and introduced the a-la-carte menu all over. Team members need a lot of motivation and guidance at this time which is my main priority. Training them also to make sure they are safe. Being positive is the only way to be overcome this situation and that what I am doing and coaching my team to also to do so.
Q6. What do you do when customers request ingredient substitutions?
If a customer requests an ingredient substitution and if it’s available then definitely I shall accommodate by having the right discussion with him/her. It’s important to understand the customer needs.
Q7. You have worked with cruise lines as well. What is the major difference between a normal land-based kitchen and cruise based kitchens when it comes to the customer demands and variety of the multicultural cuisines?
There is a huge difference between the cruise line kitchen and land-based kitchen. Most importantly team member’s attitude towards work is the most prominent difference. Cruise line staffs are more open to changes and disciplined. But in a land-based kitchen, you basically develop a very strong relationship with your team as you see them every day and if you lead them with an example, they will do everything that you want. But both are fun to work.
Q8. Which are the few cruise lines you have worked with and which one did you enjoy the most.
I have worked with Celebrity cruises and Costa cruises. I love celebrity cruise the most.
Q9. Do you plan to have your own business one day?
Yes most definitely one day.
Q10. Tell us about diet based cuisines. Which ones are the most in-demand?
Chef Sandeep Supkar: The dietary requirement is one prominent thing that comes across in recent years and more customers are noticed to have some kind of dietary requirements. That can also be just because they want to maintain that lifestyle. It’s very critical to make sure the team understand the dietary requirements and deliver them effectively. The most in-demand is celiac disease.
Q11. When you moved out of India, how does the work culture inside the kitchen changes?
Chef Sandeep Supkar: Everywhere we go we will find something different and something similar. Moving out of India has given me a lot of exposure while dealing with the multinational crew. Their work ethics and attitude. Some are tough and some are easy to work with, but at the end of the day if you lead them in the right way they all will give their best.
Q12. How do you control the quality of the food that goes out to customers?
Chef Sandeep Supkar: As a chef, quality is the most important thing that is required to make sure the customer has treated properly with loyalty and safety. Quality starts from the store where I myself along with my sous chefs check everyday products. Starting from the receiving to the way it’s stored and issued to the kitchen. Thawing the meat, storing the products, etc. We also have recipe training and quality audits. We have a food tasting session to make sure all the recipes are followed. Most importantly chefs are accountable for their areas. Every plate that goes out to the guest has to be checked properly before it leaves the kitchen. Even the restaurant managers are equally responsible for the same.
Q13. What foods do you like to pair together and why?
The best thing I like to pair is Strawberry with peas as it brings the best taste together. Some nice peas puree and poached strawberry.
Read more from Chef Sandeep Supkar Here