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Pastry Chef Surendra Negi

Taj Palace, Delhi

With close to two decades of inimitable experience in patisserie and bakery, Chef Surendra Negi is the Master Pâtissier at Taj Palace, New Delhi.

Having worked across a spectrum of famed brands – both international and domestic, Chef Negi’s expertise and craftsmanship in the field is truly extraordinary.

He specialises in creative chocolate craft and bespoke wedding cakes, and his proficiency in classic patisserie techniques and artisanal, traditional recipes makes him a force to reckon with.

His favourite desserts are the quintessential coffee-infused Tiramisu and the delicate Opera Cake – both of which are amongst his bestsellers too.

Q & A with Pastry Chef Surendra Negi

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

A very close uncle of mine ran a successful restaurant business in Australia and every time he’d visit our native village in Uttarakhand, he’d inspire us to build our careers like his. We deeply admired his efforts and passion and as kids, wanted to be as successful as him.

His success in the industry drove me to hotel school. It was then during my internship with a hotel in Delhi that I was introduced to the fascinating world of bakery and pâtissierie. I then showcased my skills at a college level competition, and after winning the title position, was blessed with a lot of opportunities in the field. I found my calling and there’s been no looking back thereafter!

 2.  My earliest memory in the kitchen ... 

On my third day as a fresh new entrant in a professional kitchen, I was not just excited, but was quite nervous too. Thanks to my tensed self, I inadvertently made a huge mistake which got me reprimanded by my then head chef. Being an absolute perfectionist, I was saddened with myself.

I was fortunate to have some very understanding and considerate co-chefs who were thoughtful and helped me realize and get over my mistake. That day remains deeply etched in my memory and my mantra has thereafter always been “We learn from failure, not from success!”.


3. My favourite dish from childhood ...  

I have a real sweet tooth and I reminisce those blissful days of my childhood when my mother used to make a delicious bowl of kheer or sevaiyan on special occasions that I absolutely cherished!


4. My favourite dish to cook... 

I love working on layered cakes such as the Opera or Classic French cakes. These require precision, time and a huge amount of effort but the results are spectacular and definitely worth it!


5. A cuisine that I want to learn...  

I have been trying my hand at Italian for a while now to impress my teenage son who loves pasta.


6.  My secret to great food...  

I wouldn’t call this a secret, but more of a mantra. First, be very focused. While there’s a lot of creativity involved in the kitchen, a sharp eye and strong attention to detail is what can set you apart. Second, whether it’s the kind of ingredients being used or the equipment, do not compromise with quality. So if a Tiramisu for example, needs a certain quality of espresso, ensure that you use the best quality coffee extract.

Lastly, and most importantly, there are no shortcuts to success. For example, if a certain step in a recipe, asks you to rest the ingredients, please do so. There’s a reason while resting itself is a stage in the cooking process.


7.  A culinary show or movie that I love to watch... 

I absolutely love the MasterChef Series – both the Indian and the Australian seasons.

8. In my free time, I would like to... 

I love cooking for my son at home – gives a different sense of satisfaction to see him smile after eating food prepared by me!

I also spend a lot of my time off the kitchen to do research on trends and techniques online on visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.


9. My guilty pleasure... 

A huge bowl of kheer or sevaiyan!