“I always wanted a job that required technical knowledge, innovation, passion and the opportunity to travel and see the world.”
Pankaj Bisht, award winning Executive Chef at Park Hyatt Hadahaa, minimalist design resort lost somewhere in the South of the Maldives. Born in India and grown up in Australia (that he calls “my beautiful second home”).
Pankaj Bisht already won a number of prizes, despite his young age: 14 medals (including 4 gold and 8 silver) at the Salon Culinaire Dubai in 2005, “Best Hotel Restaurant” for Radii Restaurant at Park Hyatt Melbourne in 2012 and for Grill Room at Jumeirah Himalayas in Shanghai in 2013 & 2014. Without mentioning that he arrived as a finalist in 2012 as “Chef of the Year – Australia”.
“It always starts from your home. I grew up watching my mother spending her whole day in the kitchen and preparing different kinds of food for the whole family. It was like a full time job for her, as we had a very large family and everyone loves to sit together and enjoy daily delicacies. It truly inspires me to see the joy on my mother’s face when she is cooking the food of our liking and making us happy and satisfied. As a child, I always wondered how she was able to cook a variety of food, sometimes even with the same ingredients. To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to join her in the kitchen. That was when I started learning the little cooking secret from my mother and decided that I will put my passion of cooking and innovative ideas to pursue my career as a Chef.”
“I started my chef career as an apprentice in India with the Intercontinental Hotels Group. Here I learned the basic work ethics of a professional kitchen. Working with this hotel opened up the world of international cuisines for me. I was so amazed that commercial food is so different to the one which I have always eaten at home. Eating in a hotel restaurant is big thing in India and to see people passionate about trying different cuisines, other than Indian, was very surprising. That was where I decided to learn something new, to discover and explore international cuisines. Today, after 17 years of my professional career and after working with a variety of international cuisines, I think the benchmark for me to be a successful cook is the basic knowledge of respecting nature and using the raw materials to the best of their use.”
Pankaj Bisht comes from the Himalayan region of Northern India, where it’s easy to find a variety of fruits, vegetables and spices which were freshly plucked and used in their family kitchen.
“Cooking with raw ingredients is the first lesson I learnt when I was a kid. And, probably, it’s the most precious one. Here at the Maldives it’s also the hardest part given the difficulty to have fresh produce everyday. Park Hyatt Hadahaa gets fresh vegetables weekly from Dubai, Sri Lanka and the Maldives; moreover, every type of fish comes directly from the Maldivian sea, as we also want to promote local fishermen. This also goes well with Hyatt Global Food Philosophy of – Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.”
“In order to create a dish, I always think of the best combination of one ingredient to another, availability of product, season of the countries we get our raw material from, required skills, market trends and popularity of the product. Then I take a classic recipe as a base; it gives you the confidence that the final product will be a good one. As a last thing, but not less important, I think about wine. Food and wine goes hand in hand and we have many dishes for which we use wine while cooking. I also consider the type of wine which would go with my gastronomic creation. For example, when I work with a specific cut of meat like Chateubriand, I would think of a good bottle of red from Biondi Santi, which we have on our wine list.”
“Talking about Italian foods and wines, the simplicity of Italian cuisine always enchanted me. One of my favourite dishes, which I created thinking about this simplicity, is a Deconstructed Lobster Bolognaise with Squid Ink Pasta.”