The life of a chef can be a hectic one. Early starts, lots of preperation and late finishes, many chefs work long hours in their kitchens perfecting their food for their customers to enjoy.
Manash Kolaparth knows exactly what that is like. The head chef at the Brasserie at Crieff Hydro spends most of his days preparing fine dishes for the Perthshire hotel's guests and passes his great knowledge and experience on to his colleagues.
We managed to catch up with Manash for a quick chat about his job and what he likes to get up in his spare time when he gets away from the kitchen!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical working day starts at 9.30am by checking the fridges and inventories of food ordered the day before. Then, my staff and I put the delivered goods away in the appropriate sections. After reviewing the duty roster for The Brasserie, I plan the day ahead and oversee the prep list for each section.
My job is to oversee the other chefs but I also get involved in the cooking. I help the chefs when things get busy, and help them to do the prep for the next day. I received a lot of my chef training in French restaurants, working under the famed Raymond Blanc and also for the Bistrot Pierre restaurant chain. It's my job to make sure everything runs to plan, briefing the chefs about operations, specials and special requests or functions, and also briefing the waiters before service.
I received a lot of my chef training in French restaurants, working under the famed Raymond Blanc and also for the Bistrot Pierre restaurant chain. Raymond was stubborn but he taught me a lot about how to treat other members of staff and how to act in the kitchen.
Just because I’m a head chef doesn’t mean I don’t still get my hands dirty! In the afternoons, I store away prepared food and clean down the cooking and prep areas. The chefs don’t get their breaks until after 3pm, when things calm down after lunch. Then we get ready for the busiest service time – dinner.
I check the quality of food as it’s cooked, garnish them and guide the waiters to the appropriate table. This is continued until the last table or room service checks come through the ticket machine. Then it’s time for checking the stock levels again and ordering goods for next day. I de-brief the team, help to clean down the kitchen and then head home time - usually at around 10.30pm.
What signals the start of your weekend / days off?
Because I work for a hotel, my days off vary and aren’t always regular. I usually get a heads up through the reservation system about future bookings and plan accordingly, with the days off decided according to the team strength of the day. If the days are busy I prefer to be on shift to help.
I like to take Sundays off as there aren’t any food deliveries that day. That’s my family time.
If it’s a rainy day, I’m in bed till 11 am at least. If it is a bright and sunny, I love to go around the area with my camera to click some random pictures.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I run a business back home in southern India with my best friend. We lease cable TV signal and optical broadband for our township with a small subscription package for homes and we employ five staff.
After food, my next passion is photography. During my childhood I learned Indian classical music; I sang and played the mridangam, an Indian classical drum used in temples and gatherings.
Top of your bucket list?
I have a few things at the top! I want to travel to remote locations around the world, cook with the local flavour and get to know different people and lives they live. I'd like to make a documentary on flavours and ingredients breaking down boundaries between countries. One day, it would be great to open a beach café restaurant in Goa.
I also want to climb Mount Everest!
Worst job you’ve ever had?
No matter how hard or difficult it was, I've always enjoyed and gained something from every job. Looking back, it has helped me to be a better chef every day. I take every challenge or pressured situation and try to create an opportunity to improve myself.
Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me most is nature and the changes of seasons. I love mornings and the magic the beginning of the day brings. Being a chef, ingredients around the world and their combinations have inspired me in lots of different ways. How on earth could one think that an organically produced Madagascan vanilla pod could be the very best ingredient to flavour an Italian Gelato? Plus, all the chefs who work with strong ethics and commitment have inspired me in my journey.
Tell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?
I enjoyed my days at a beach grill restaurant named Susegado. In Goan Portuguese, that means ‘taking it easy’. It didn’t feel like a job, more like a holiday! We were serving freshest seafood, grilled or barbecued, in a very relaxed atmosphere.
What’s the best part about your job?
I love the process that drives you to create a new dish: the combination of flavours, the pain it takes to compile the whole menu, considering its journey from farm to fork and every bit of its execution as a commercial product. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge with my the other chefs, empowering them to be one of the best.
What’s in the perfect day off breakfast?
I love my south Indian breakfasts. The dosa is a rice pan cake with different fillings and flavoured chutneys. Idily is a steamed rice cake made from a natural fermenting process. Rice hoppers are made of coconut milk and rice with a vegetable stew. The list goes on…
Complete this sentence; The best things in life are….
To be human, to be with friends and family, and to love nature.
Manash is the head chef at the Brasserie at Crieff Hydro Hotel. For more information on the hotel, visit their Small City directory listing.
To book your stay at the hotel, visit the Crieff Hydro website.
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