The White Caps
My stint at the college for two decades saw movement of many people, most of them stayed the course and hence formed a strong team and was the biggest positives of the institution. The infrastructure at the old building was nothing to write home about, with its innumerable flaws in architecture, its uneven walls, the mixed tiles, the leaks et al. But we bravely looked past it and worked on our core strength in the teaching. Soon the faculty notes were sought after and the first authors were from here — in management, food and beverage and housekeeping.
The kitchen department also had its share of faculty who joined and left soon after for greener pastures. This blog is about the ones who went away. I did briefly mention about Chef Meganathan who was a part timer in the early days and whose classes in the kitchen would burn the process into ones memory. And Suchitra, the student who joined back stayed for only a year. When I joined in 1994, there was a chef Shyam, brother to another chef Sukesh Srinivasan, but I did not know much about him, although we had brought Sukesh later for a demonstration on the Gueridon service for other faculty members when there was a change in the syllabus.
The first chef who made an impact with his skill was also a part of my catering set up. He came with a set of skills that were quite special and along with Chef Maggie had demonstrated Ice carving skills and vegetable carving in the 90s. His veg carvings were so good that we took part in the Lalbagh flower show with them and came back with 26 awards. He stayed for a little longer and then moved back into the industry and worked with the Hyatt and Taj groups before his current position in Kolkata.
Another early joiner was a lady chef with a bindass outlook. She would prance about and sing while she cooked and we got along great. Her creative skills were top class and was the mentor in our first win in an inter college competition. She was from the Bunt community and inspired quite a few before she changed tack to Training and went off to the middle east and now in Ozzieland. I hear that her daughter has picked up her skills. Her carvings were part of the winning ones at the Lalbagh show in 97–98.
Another short term employee was also a student from Maurya college who joined with hopes and dreams. He was a colleague to another student of ours, Aman Tandon, and they formed a formidable team at the Atria Hotel (now Radisson Blue Atria). Aman has moved on to bigger things and is a big name in Ahmedabad, constantly being features in the media — online and offline. This chef stayed with us for a year and then moved on to the UK and currently the corporate chef to a top restaurant chain in Bangalore. His creativity has been experienced by me and his modern take on the local Karnataka cuisine is quite the rage.
The last person who I spotted in another college during an exam duty and convinced the management to be part of our team was a speed talking Tamilian with ITC hotels as her background. The fact that she married another chef was a bonus. She was quite popular among the students and her move to the US was one of the reasons for her quitting. The other reason was the dumping of a Science subject on the Commerce student by a short sighted management! She and her husband are the proud owners of an Indian restaurant listed among the top 100 in Houston.
The reasons for not being able to retain such talent was a combination of opportunity for them and a sense of insecurity of certain individuals who continue in the same vein, despite several examples to this effect. A firm handling of the issue at the bud would have made for a much happier place to work, in my opinion.
The time I got with them are treasured and surely miss their company and creations. So thank you, Subrota Debnath (currently GM at a boutique hotel in Kolkata), Reyana (Shetty), Suresh Venkatramana (Executive Chef) and Anupama Srivastava (The Verandah, Sugarland, Texas) for the friendship and companionship in your brief stints. My apologies for using their pics from social media, as I did not have any suitable ones.
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