Meet Chef Ajay Thakur is the Brand Chef, Mirah Hospitality, the same company that owns Cafe Mangii.
Where did you grow up?
What led you to becoming a chef?
Love for cooking & travelling to learn about various food cultures is what had led me to this path. Ever since I was a kid I knew when I was eating good food. Anyone can cook, people cook every day at home. But to prepare something special, something that will make you close your eyes and make that “Mmm” sound, that is what it is all about for me. As the food is placed in front of the dinners, as the visual impact is taking place, almost immediately the aromas are reaching their senses and their anticipation builds, the smiles are now in abundance that is what it’s all about for me.
Chef is mysterious image of a person cooking your food while you patiently wait in the dining area. Feeding people is an immense pleasure. When people take a bite of what you cooked, the smile on their face tells you everything and there is a common bond that connects with all races, nationalities, and backgrounds.
How long have you been a chef?
Over 16 Years.
What do you enjoy more? Cooking or creating?
Cooking a meal is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for someone. It's not just the experience of the event I enjoy. It's everything behind the scenes as well - the fragrance of garlic, the crackle from the skillet and the sight of a perfectly roasted bird coming out from the oven. Cooking speaks to all of my senses. It's a joy I'm so proud to know. The truth is I love to eat so I have had to develop an appreciation for the art, if only for my own sanity.
Am amazed and curious on how the simplest of ingredients contribute towards a delightful meal or dish. Creating is an art that allows you to reinvent yourself with newer horizons whether the inspiration comes from a cookbook, a friend, or something you ate in a restaurant. Evolving with the contemporary culture is must and by putting oneself to test by creating new techniques is what keeps me going into my kitchen.
Do you feel there is virtue in preserving the authenticity of cuisine?
There’s an interesting balance between traditionalists and people who are very committed to preserving culinary heritage and people who force fusion upon everything and insist that food is in a constant state of evolution. I would argue that preserving traditional foods and ingredients is a key, for a variety of reasons. It can be gracefully integrated with responsibility. Food is culture and the exchange of ingredients and preparations reflects a global cultural exchange, which is really beautifully and wonderfully important.
What dishes do you like eating the most?
Home cooked food. Also to the contrary, junk food. Especially burgers & vada pav.
What’s your least favourite dish?
Roquefort cheese and seafood (barring shellfish.)
Where do you like to eat (other than your restaurant, of course) in Bangalore?
Local joints and street food. Malabar Bay was one of the restaurants in Koramangala I had visited for the Kerala paratha & Chettinad preparations.
Do you like Bangalore?
I do. The weather is so pleasant throughout the year (unlike Mumbai which is hot at most times.)