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Meet The Chef - Saptasri Parswanath

Saptasri Parswanath, Demi Chef de Partie, JW Marriott, Bengaluru

Who inspired you to cook?
Fortunately, I’m a foodie myself, so my love for food itself inspired me to cook and bake and have fun in the process. Growing up, I loved my grandmother’s cooking. She was such a perfectionist in everything she did; it was truly inspiring to see her put so much of love and effort, and have an eye for detail in her cooking. However baking is my true passion, what I love about it is that it’s such a creative process, baking to me is like creating a piece of art!

What is the first thing you learnt to cook?
Learning to bake a cake is one of my earliest memories of food and baking. It was more of a trial and error process, learning to mix and match various ingredients. As a kid, I remember eagerly sitting in front of the oven from start to finish waiting for my cake to rise! I guess it’s the whole process of creating something tangible from scratch that attracted me to baking.

What do you hate most about cooking? Why?
Absolutely Nothing! That’s probably why I am still cooking! Though I have to say that I am not particularly fond of the process of cleaning up after I’ve finished!

There are fewer women chefs than men in the industry? Why do you feel this is the case? How does it feel to joust with the men for position of power?
Well this trend has gradually begun to change though it’s probably because it’s a physically demanding job. Chefs generally work long hours and women find it difficult to maintain that healthy work life balance.
Having said that, women today are stepping up to the challenge but there is a still a lot more scope. As far as competing with men are concerned, I enjoy the healthy competition, and it only motivates me to work harder. I believe my passion for baking is the reason I am able to sustain myself in this competitive industry.

What’s the one distinguishing factor about your cooking?
I am unique in my cooking; I don’t particularly try to imitate other chefs’ cooking styles. I also don’t restrict myself and am very keen to experiment with different cuisines inspired by my travels. Most people don’t know that I am actually from a finance background and I left a comfortable job to pursue my love for baking. I have no formal hotel management background, it’s just the passion for what I do that’s got me here. I am also grateful to my wonderful team here at the JW Marriott, Bengaluru including Chef Daniel, Executive Pastry Chef at JW Marriott Bengaluru, who I continually look up to for guidance and inspiration.

What are some of your favourite things to cook?
Chocolate is one of my favourite ingredients to work with, I find the whole process of baking with chocolate extremely therapeutic. Of course it doesn’t hurt that it tastes great too! I love baking unique, one-of-its kind creations. For instance, at the JW Marriott, we create quirky designer cakes, it’s a very time consuming process but the results are truly worth it!

What is comfort food for you?
Being a true blue South Indian at heart, my comfort food is good old Curd Rice and Pickle! I am a big foodie and love trying out different cuisines like Thai, Mexican, and Mediterranean etc. but at the end of the day, its South Indian food that I turn to!