This kitchen veteran is filling some big shoes in his new executive role.
Newly appointed as executive chef at Juffair favourite, the K Hotel, chef Nitai Chand has been cooking professionally for almost 20 years. His early culinary inspiration came from cooking with his mother and he got his start at the Green Park Hotel Visakhapatnam, India, initially specialising in Chinese cuisine.
He says: “At the beginning of my career, I probably had the worst experiences. I was even reduced to tears on a number of occasions. Even though I was always considered one of the best chefs in the kitchen, my superior would constantly push me to become better. And today, I thank them immensely for it. These experiences only made me stronger, and moulded me into the chef I am today.”
Chef Nitai favours fusion style that merges traditional and contemporary. He says: “I started out cooking traditional authentic cuisine, but eventually incorporated elements from modern cooking into my dishes. The fine-dining industry has changed drastically during those years, and I believe that it’s important for a chef to keep up with the latest trends. In order to be successful a chef must be able to constantly modify his or her style of cooking to match customers’ changing preferences. But, no matter what type of cuisine I serve, at the end of the day my sole purpose is still to make sure that every customer is served a well-presented and tasty meal.
“Every chef’s secret is a good team which needs to be able to work together under pressure, while not neglecting the guidelines and procedures we have to set in place. To lead a successful team, you need to constantly strive to bring out the very best in them. Team members need to put their heart and soul into their work.”
Chef Nitai shares the recipe for one of his favourite dishes.
LEMON CHICKEN (Serves one)
• 200g boneless baby chicken
• 100g potatoes
• 20g baby spinach
• 5g garlic
• 10g corn kernel
• 25g tomato
• 5g parsley
• 20g butter
• 100ml brown sauce
• 30ml lemon juice
• 1tbsp chilli flakes
• 50ml Kikkoman soya sauce
• Marinate the chicken with kikkoman soya, lemon juice, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and chilli flakes and set aside for half an hour.
• Sear the chicken well or lightly and then roast in the oven for eight minutes at 160 degrees Celcius.
• Cut the potatoes into thick finger-sized chunks and roast in oven with a marinade of salt, crushed black pepper, Cajun spice and a little tomato sauce.
• Sauté baby spinach with corn kernels in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
• Reduce the brown sauce to about half and mix with butter, herb, cream, dash of lemon juice and seasoning
• Arrange on plate layer by layer as shown; serve with lemon and grilled tomato.
• 2kg chicken bones
• 1stalk celery
• 1 leek
• 250g carrots
• 200g onions
• 1 head garlic
• 3-4 bay leaves
• 1tbps black pepper corns
• 2tbsp tomato paste
• 20g thyme
• Roast the chicken bones at 160 degrees Celcius for one hour, till golden brown. Roast carrots, celery, leeks, onion and garlic until brown. Add the roasted vegetables and chicken bones to a pot and fill with enough water to cover the bones by two inches. Bring to the boil and add tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
• Bring almost to the boil, reduce the heat and cook at a low simmer for two hours, until reduced by half, occasionally skim for excess fat.
• After cooking, remove from heat and strain out all solids, press with ladle or spoon to extract all liquids.
• Return to the pan and reduce to a thick and pouring consistency.