I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting with and talking to Chef Swapnil Vankar, the Sous-Chef of one of the most popular restaurants at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai – The Golden Dragon.
While in conversation with the chef, he talks about how it all began for him. He says, “Culinary journey for me began after I was weaned off from the instant noodle diet by my mom saying that I should learn basic “Dal and Rice”, at least for my survival. Being from a middle class family with both parents working, I was a self-taught home cook. College and hotel management was introduced to me by my father who knew that as soon as the plate was laid, the books were closed.”
Chef Swapnil has done his hotel management from the very prestigious IHM Mumbai, famously know as Dadar Catering College. He says he was always very clear about following his passion after having graduated from the culinary school.
He completed his internship at the iconic hotel ‘The Taj Mahal Palaces and Towers’, Mumbai, training keenly in the food production department, always keeping the dream alive of working as a chef for the Taj.
In 2005, his dream was accomplished when he joined as a Trainee Chef, learning the art of a garde manager. He says he was classically trained by the best chefs from the hotel industry. Chef Hemant Oberoi, Chef Ramchandra Iyer, Chef Dilip Sarkar and Chef Hafizullah Khan were his mentors at the Taj.
He later assumed the position of Junior Sous Chef and moved on to his next big assignment -The Golden Dragon.
When asked about his favorite cuisine apart from Chinese, He says “Salt & pepper were never my interest, as the combination of various masalas and spices in the Indian Cuisine have always intrigued me, so apart from the Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine really sparks my interest.”
Having completed almost 10 years in the industry, he believes that he is still learning. A very humble person indeed. He definitely is an amazing chef and I have been fortunate enough to taste some of his delicacies. I can only hope to be where he is today.His story constantly inspires me to work towards achieving my dream.