Executive Chef Rajiv Vatsyayan

Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa, Goa

A seasoned culinary professional with over 19 years of varied experience of handling kitchen of Business hotel, Luxury resort, etc.

After completing his Hotel Schooling from Kolkata, Rajiv was associated with Oberoi hotels for 16 years in 02 stints. During which he was instrumental in pre-opening and setting up state-of-the-art kitchen facilities, menu planning and presentation, quality control, training and development of the team. Apart from Oberoi Hotels, he was also associated with SUJAN Hospitality, Luxury Resorts in Rajasthan. Passionate about cooking from a young age, inspired by his mother and grandmother, Chef Rajiv decided to take cooking as a profession. His culinary skills are a fine combination of traditional techniques along with modern thinking, which opens a new horizon of contemporary recipes. He learnt the nuances of authentic Regional Indian cuisine by exploring the local regions of the country. He is very particular about choosing authentic ingredients; i.e. fresh herbs and exotic ingredients from herb garden and grinding his own masalas fresh. His dishes have that definite homely touch which is much appreciated by all guests.

He believes in simplicity and authenticity of food. According to him, cooking is all about getting the finer things right. He likes to experiment in the kitchen and brings a surprise element on the plate.

Dedicated and committed, he is a passionate professional with a proven ability in dynamic operations. When not cooking for others, he indulges himself in early morning run, cycling. Spending a quality time with his adorable sons help him to de-stress.

Q & A with Executive Chef Rajiv Vatsyayan

1. The main influences that made me interested in food and cooking as a career

My interest in pursuing a career in food and cooking is fueled by a profound inclination and curiosity to delve into the rich tapestry of regional cuisines across India. This passion propels me to explore diverse flavors, making a culinary career an exciting and fulfilling path for me.

2. My earliest memory in the kitchen

My earliest memory in the kitchen revolves around learning the intricate details of cooking from my first professional chef. His guiding philosophy, emphasizing that "good cooking is all about getting all the small details right," left a lasting impression on me, shaping my approach to culinary endeavors from the very beginning. This foundational lesson has since been a cornerstone of my culinary journey.

3. My favourite dish to cook

My favorite dishes to cook include expertly grilled fish and the flavorful South Indian delicacy, Meen Moilee. The art of grilling brings out the natural flavors, while preparing Meen Moilee allows me to showcase my culinary skills with a traditional touch. These dishes reflect my passion for creating delightful culinary experiences that marry technique and regional authenticity.

4. A cuisine that I want to admire and want to learn

The cuisine I am eager to admire and learn is the rich tapestry of regional coastal cuisines of India. Exploring the diverse flavors and culinary traditions along the coastal regions holds a special fascination for me, as it aligns with my passion for both cooking and the cultural nuances embedded in regional gastronomy. Mastering the intricacies of these coastal delicacies is a culinary journey I am enthusiastic to embark upon.

5. My secret to great food

My secret to crafting exceptional food lies in harnessing the simplicity of ingredients to impart distinct characteristics to each dish. By focusing on the innate flavors and qualities of each component, I strive to create culinary experiences that are both refined and authentic. This approach reflects my belief that the art of cooking is in the thoughtful and purposeful utilization of basic elements to elevate the dining experience.

6. The last cookbook I bought

My most recent cookbook acquisitions include "Ottolenghi Simple" by Chef Yotam Ottolengi, which captivates with its inventive yet accessible recipes, and "The Culinary Odyssey of Goa" by Odette Mascarenhas, providing a deep dive into the diverse and flavorful world of Goan cuisine. These additions to my collection reflect my commitment to continuous culinary exploration, drawing inspiration from both global innovators and the rich culinary heritage of the region I am passionate about.

7. The Chef that inspires me

Chef Yotam Ottolengi stands as a significant source of inspiration for me. His innovative approach to cooking, blending diverse flavors and emphasizing freshness, has greatly influenced my culinary perspective. Ottolengi's ability to transform simple ingredients into extraordinary dishes resonates with my own philosophy of elevating food through creativity and a keen understanding of flavors.

8. A culinary show that I love to watch

I thoroughly enjoy watching "Chef's Table," a culinary show that delves into the artistic journeys and philosophies of renowned chefs worldwide. The captivating storytelling and visually stunning presentations in each episode inspire me, providing valuable insights into the diverse and creative realms of haute cuisine. This series fuels my passion for the culinary arts and broadens my appreciation for the multifaceted world of gastronomy.

9. In my free time, I like to

In my free time, I find solace and rejuvenation through cycling and running. These activities not only contribute to my physical well-being but also serve as a means of clearing my mind and fostering a healthy work-life balance. Embracing the outdoors while engaging in these pursuits allows me to recharge and stay energized for both professional and personal endeavors.

10. The kind of adaptations I have had to make while combining two cuisines

Each cuisine has its own nuances  and specialties.

An amalgamation of two cuisines requires a fine blend of essences of both.

It is most important to ensure that the process of combination does not effect the  characteristics of the cuisine. One might have to accomodate modifications required in terms of texture, cooking method. Cooking temperature, etc.

But the bench-mark is that "the end product should taste authentic, and retains character".

11. My guilty pleasure

My guilty pleasure, if I may call it so, lies in occasionally pushing myself and my close team members to the limit in the pursuit of perfection. While this drive for excellence is intrinsic to my work ethic, I recognize the importance of maintaining a balanced approach to avoid undue stress. Striking this equilibrium remains a constant endeavor, as I aim for optimal performance without compromising the well-being of myself or my team. 

12. I will describe my restaurant to a first time visitor

Welcome to our restaurant, where culinary art comes alive through finely crafted dishes that blend imaginative combinations of fresh ingredients with authentic cooking methods. Each plate is a testament to our commitment to delivering a unique and memorable dining experience, showcasing a harmonious fusion of creativity and traditional culinary excellence. We invite guests to savor the essence of our culinary philosophy, where every bite tells a story of passion and innovation.

13. My menu design

My menu design is crafted with a deliberate approach – while it may seem to offer limited options, it strategically encompasses abundant variations to cater to diverse palates. Each dish is thoughtfully curated, ensuring a balance between familiarity and culinary innovation, providing a comprehensive and satisfying dining experience for our guests. This intentional selection aims to offer quality over quantity, emphasizing a memorable and nuanced journey through our culinary offerings. 

14. My recommendations in my restaurant

I highly recommend indulging in the exquisite experience of our fresh catch of the day, expertly prepared according to the guests personalised preferences. Elevating the dining experience, this recommendation ensures not only the finest quality ingredients but also a tailored culinary delight that reflects our commitment to meeting the unique tastes and desires of each guest. Allow us to craft a memorable dish just for the guest, showcasing the essence of our culinary expertise