In 1970s, when parents wanted their children to become lawyers, doctors, and engineers, choosing a totally unconventional profession was not an easy task for Chef Davinder Kumar.
People would often demoralize him saying that he would not be accepted in society or get a girl to marry. But nothing stopped him to become a chef. After completing his graduation from Delhi University, he choose to become a chef, the profession he was introduced to by his friend working at the Oberoi hotel. Inspired by his mother, he joined Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development for 3-years Kitchen Management Diploma course and after that there was no turning back.
“It was an upcoming profession. It was neither recognized at that time nor respected, but over the years it has gained its recognitions. Now this profession equally stands out like other professional fields. This change has come up because of many reasons. Few of them are internet, media, globlisation and the changing mindset of people,” said Kumar.
“Today food is not only filling your stomach. People have realised that diet plays an important role in one’s lifestyle. That’s another reason of this profession being well accepted today in the society and in the industry by a large order.” He added.
His philosophy of cooking is, “Do not complicate the food. Respect the ingredients.” Here, according to him, respect means putting the ingredients in proper proportion, extra garnishing for sake of designing is a big no. He believes in retaining the original aroma if you are cooking the traditional cuisine. It is good to experiment but not to kill the natural flavor. For him food is much more than taste, it is amalgamation of pleasant aroma, flavours and visual appeal.
Davinder Kumar has written two books about Kebabs: ‘Kebab, Chutney & Bread’ and ‘Just Kebabs: celebration of 365 Kebabs & one for a leap year’. He also has authored two books on soups and salads.
When asked why he chose to write on kebabs, he said, “Kebab has been very close to my heart, and I love to eat Kebab. Moreover, there was no such good book available on the shelf. My idea was to innovate more kebabs including vegetarian ones, because myth has been there that kebabs are only non vegetarian. So the book has more than 40 per cent vegetarian kebabs. Also, I wanted to offer the world a standardized book of recipes.” He explains.
Once awarded as the Best Chef of India by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Davinder Kumar likes to eat simple homemade food. But he loves to cook European cuisine and Kebabs. He believes that Indian cuisine needs to be refined.
“Indian cuisine should be refined. It needs to be modernised. We should take it to the next level. But we must make sure the root is retained. The traditional flavor must not be destroyed,” he said.
He has received many honours and accolades for his work in the culinary field. He got his name mentioned in the Limca Book of World Records for creating a cake weighing 7500 kg during 10th anniversary of Le Meridian, New Delhi. He has also won a medal at the International cooking festival held in Tokyo, Japan in 1983. He has travelled across the globe to master the intricacies of different cuisines. Davinder Kumar believes in sharing his knowledge and skills with others. For him, it is a matter of great satisfaction when he trains someone and sees him or her getting successful.
He serves as the president of Indian Culinary Forum for 13 years now. He has changed the image of this profession in the country while being on that post. He also plays a key role in Annual Chef Awards, an annual event of ICF to honour the best chefs from across the country.
Recently on the occasion of international chef day, ICF along with its Chef and Child Foundation wing organised a charity lunch for school children at Hope Tigri School, Sangam Vihar, New Delhi.