Pavan Kapoor is fascinated by order and logistics as much as he is moved by creating amazing food. As the new executive chef at Rydges Norwest he has already instigated change with an updated and extended bar menu and an enticing restaurant menu. You might think most good chefs have learned to cook as children watching their mother or grandmother in the kitchen but Kapoor discovered his love for creating great food while studying hospitality in Mumbai.
“I was tossing up a few careers around the time I was studying for my HSC and I got the opportunity to work in a hotel on a casual basis. It was like a different world, it was like a military operation. Everyone had a task to do, everyone was in a different uniform and there was such a buzz.”
“When I went to the kitchen I just loved watching all the chefs in action, it wasn’t actually the food…my passion for food came later. I loved that you could take an ingredient in your hand and could transform it into something incredible.”
He completed a hotel management diploma and in his final year he had the option of specialising in a particular area, Kapoor chose the kitchen.
He started work within the prestigious Taj Group of hotels, initially peeling potatoes, chopping onions and garlic and blanching and dicing tomatoes.
“It taught me that every step in the whole process is important and is critical to do a good job to enable you to deliver a final project,” he said.
Following his time with Taj Hotels he worked in a flight kitchen for three years as part of a team proving food for 19 international airlines and producing 6000 meals a day.
“It was a very busy operation but was very streamlined.” He said the experience taught him a lot about streamlined organisation and a lot about health and safety. After several years honing his skills at The Orchid at Mumbai he joined the luxury liner, QE2 where he gained exposure to international cuisine and global tastes.
“Working there was like working in the United Nations, I gained fantastic exposure to a lot of international food. We had 1500 passengers and we cooked all day long.”
His career has always been about learning new skills which is why he moved to Australia.
“The produce here is so beautiful and I thought how blessed is this country… the freshness of the vegetables, the variety of seafood and the quality of the meat is amazing and there is an abundance.”
He encourages his chefs to experiment and to come up with new dishes which they then all critique before deciding which will appear on the menu.