Chef Abhijeet Thakre leads the effervescent team of culinary experts at the Taj City Centre, Gurugram. Chef Thakre brings with himself 17 years of prolific experience in professional kitchens across the country.
After completing his kitchen management training, he commenced his journey with IHCL in 2005 at Taj Chandigarh as Junior Sous Chef. Thereafter, he gained further expertise with renowned hospitality brands in key markets and returned in 2008 as the Sous Chef of the Taj Deccan, Hyderabad. In his last role, he held the office of the Executive Sous Chef at the iconic Taj Palace, New Delhi where he had the privilege of serving several Heads of States visiting the country and steered some of the signature dining experiences for the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and national and international conferences.
A graduate from the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai, Abhijeet has worked with some of the country’s most renowned chefs and culinary experts. A devoted husband and a doting father to twin daughters, he is a street food aficionado and is also passionate about collecting pens and knives.
1. The main influences that made me interested in food and cooking as a career:
The first major influence on my food journey has been my mother. Her expertise and dexterity in the kitchen is beyond compare. She would swiftly churn out an array of vegetarian delicacies from our kitchen and there’s where I learnt the basics. She remains my foremost inspiration and I look up to her culinary prowess even today. Later in my formative years as a student-chef, I got immensely inspired by the likes of legends like Chef Martin Yan and Chef Keith Floyd. Chef Vernon Coelho from my alma-mater, the iconic IHM-Mumbai taught me the basics of commercial cooking. Chef R.C. Wilson is another inspiration and is also my friend, philosopher, guide and mentor.
2. My earliest memory in the kitchen:
Helping my dear mother cook the most delicious homestyle Maharashtrian food.
3. My favourite dish to cook:
I love grilling meats of all kinds and tossing up fresh pasta.
4. A cuisine that I want to learn:
Japanese. A cuisine immensely subtle, yet nuanced.
5. My secret to great food:
Just get the basics on point, every time.
6. The last cookbook I bought:
Chef Mandaar Sukhtankar’s ‘Romancing the Chicks’
7. A culinary show that I love to watch:
The timeless classic series ‘Yan Can Cook’; all seasons and shows of ‘Floyd’s’; ‘Kitchen Confidential’
8. In my free time, I would like to:
When I’m not cooking, I enjoy spending time with my twin daughters!
9. The kind of adaptations I have had to make while combining two cuisines/palates / guest taste – for e.g. Indian and Intercontinental..
As hoteliers, we believe in delivering bespoke, personalised experiences. Well-done pasta, combining sauces for pastas, completel elimination of spices from Indian food are just some of the adaptation requests that I have received and catered to, to ensure that we meet the requests of our guests.
10. My guilty pleasure:
All things sweet! Chocolate, hand-churned ice-creams and gelatos and the king of fruits, mangoes!
11. I will describe my restaurant/hotel to a first time customer:
An urban oasis in the heart of the India’s bustling Millennium City that boasts of luxurious rooms, delectable cuisines, unparalleled warmth and tranquil wellness facilities.
12. My menu design...( what kind of research goes into its preparation, can you walk us through the process?):
It all begins with preliminary research. One has to understand the palate of the audience. Popular dishes must be considered and slow-moving items must be avoided. Comfort food is not just a trend, it is a concept that must be embraced by all sorts of menus. I always look to include foods that are comforting and have an element of warmth and nostalgia. Culinary teams are always diverse in terms of chef profiles. Chefs across the team must be encouraged to ideate and suggest dishes. Once trials are underway, one must always ensure that the same dish is tasted by different sets of people – this is really the best way to get first hand feedback.
13. My recommendations (in your restaurant(s)/hotel):
We are fortunate to be home to the iconic Thai Pavilion, a legendary culinary destination that serves the most authentic Thai cuisine curated by Masterchef Prajuab Shoosridam. Our world-cuisine restaurant, Culina 44 is one of Gurgaon’s finest all-day dining destinations and offers the best of international and local cuisines under one roof. Our Weekend Brunches offer an unmatched spread every Saturday and Sunday.
14. What is the unique dining experience In your hotel. How was this conceived:
We offer personalised Chef’s Tables at the intimate private dining room at the legendary Thai Pavilion, where MasterChef Prajuab curates a meal for you with utmost precision and customisation. Paired with the restaurant’s signature hospitality and a fine set of wines, the experience is truly one of its kind. We also offer unique dining experiences set under the starlit sky at our alfresco, private yoga deck and at the idyllic poolside.