Blessed with a childhood that resonated with his passion for food, Chef Nagesh has successfully carved out his niche in the culinary industry. With an aim to integrate the ‘health factor’ and local flavors into mainstream cuisines, he is steadily establishing his mark in the industry.

I thought my grandmother was a magician.

Every night at dinner, my grandmother would conjure up dishes that made me wonder if she was a magician! Trust me, they tasted amazingly great and acted as unintentional stepping-stones laid out for me, to embark on my culinary journey. Little did I know that while I was relishing the intricately cooked chicken xacuti by my grandmother, destiny had already inked its plans for my future. Growing up, I became more attached and passionate about the world of food and started experimenting on my own! During lazy afternoons, when no one was around, I would stealthily creep into the kitchen, dig up some ingredients from the pantry and start cooking. It was only when I was caught, I realized that I wasn’t bad at all! The constant pats on my back, the praises at the dining table and my grandmother’s smile were enough to let me know that I could cook good food. I knew I had the knack and wanted to start living my dream; to create great dishes and leave an indelible mark in the culinary universe.

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Food can create memories. At times when I try replicating the chicken xacuti that my grandmother used to make, I find myself emotionally transported to my childhood home that was laden with happy memories. I strongly believe that the food dished out from your kitchen has the subconscious power to impact the person eating it. Content smiles and happy tummies are the best incentives in the food industry. It is therefore of absolute importance that the meal you serve is healthy, balanced and nourishingly delectable. My dish, Finger Millet Cake with Cucumber and Chestnut Marmalade, echoes the same theory. Millet, the hero ingredient is inherently healthy and lends a soulful base to the cake along with the incorporation of cucumber and water chestnuts, that provide the much-needed vibrancy and appeal to the dish. The inspiration for this dish is also drawn from my grandmother’s kitchen who used to prepare a local sweet dish by using naturally sourced ingredients and binding them all together with jaggery.

Innovation and experimentation are great levers, but one must never compromise on the healthy aspects of a dish. I believe drawing inspirations from local flavors and ingredients is the absolute key to conjure up the perfect plate of happiness that can create a thousand memories!

With more than 17 years of active experience in the hotel industry, Chef Nagesh Morajkar is associated with Sodexo as an Executive Chef for a reputed international school in Mumbai.

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