Interview with Chef Sneha Singhi




A tete-a-tete with Chef Sneha Singhi

Chef Sneha Singhi, 22, started Paris Café in Kolkata in March 2013 and the place became an instant hit among French food lovers since it offers the most authentic Parisian café delicacies. She completed her patisserie diploma from Le Cordon Bleu and has worked under the renowned pastry Chef Pierre Herméand as well as luxury bakers Ladurée.

Chef Sneha Singhi in an interview, spoke about her journey so far, her popular Café in Kolkata, her experience working with 3-Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse, her future plans and an inspirational message to all the budding chefs and amateur cooks.

1. Tell us about your journey so far. Did you always wanted to become a chef?
I started studying Mass Communication in St Xaviers College, but was always dreaming of food. That’s when it struck me, that there is nothing better than following your passion. So I applied to Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and was all set to follow my dream in my dream city. It was all so sudden, yet seemed so perfect. After studying Patisserie, I got a great opportunity to work for Pierre Herme the God of Macaroons in Paris and also Laduree London. While a lot of other opportunities kept coming my way, I knew it was time to go back to my roots, to Calcutta and start to put my passion on my plate back here. So when I reached the city of joy, I got a joyous opportunity to work for Hyatt Regency in their pastry section which I thought was wise as I should learn the tips and tricks of the trade back at home. And after a good 6 months of practicing under them, it was time to surprise Calcutta with Paris Cafe. 

Yes, being a chef and owning my own restaurants was a dream. 

2. Tell us more about your Café in Kolkata. Why did you choose Kolkata to start your venture?
Going back to my roots was very important for me. I have major plans of branching out. But the most primary motive was to go back to my roots and surprise Calcuttans with Paris Cafe.

Paris cafe is one of it kind in Kolkata pampering all the sweet tooths with its delicacies. The menu keeps changing every fortnight and it’s all very experimental. 




3. Which is the most popular dish at Paris Café?
The menu includes macaroons, eclairs, red-velvet cupcakes (my favourite), pancakes, a range of breads and my own creation, the pretty 'Dream Come True', a rainbow cake. Besides these popular items, the chocolate fudge, red-velvet cheesecake, spinach crepe with cheese sauce and pancake with maple sauce and an array of hot and cold beverages have their own loyal patrons.

4. What is your style of cooking? Which is your signature dish?
Since I have done a diploma from Le Cordon Blue, my style of cooking is what I learned i.e. French Patisserie and Cuisine. I travel to France every year to learn new segments of French cooking and to bring the evolving Parisian food culture to Kolkata. All my desserts have their own specialties; each is different from the other. My red velvet cupcakes are the most popular although I am proud of the rainbow cake or Dream Come True, as I call it, which is my very own creation.


5. Everyone has their idol/inspiration in life. Who is yours?
My idol has been my mom. She is an extremely gifted chef, and that’s where I get my creative genes from. I’ve grown up watching my mother cook. If you have ever seen a kid throwing a fit in the cookery section of a bookstore, well that was probably me. At the age of 7, I learnt my basic arithmetic from my measuring cups, my compositions when I made my own recipes. I was that kid who was always obsessed about food and still is. In fact, my entire family was most supportive. They strongly believe in choosing a career path that makes you happy. So that every day when you wake up in the morning, you are doing something that you love.

6. You were one of the selected few to be chosen to host Goût de France 2015 in Kolkata. How do you feel about this achievement? How was the experience working with 3-Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse?
I was extremely honored to be chosen for such an amazing international event. The aim of the event was, over the space of a dinner, to salute the excellence of French cuisine, its innovative skills, and the values that it conveys: bringing people together over a shared meal, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature. It was nothing short of amazing to be working in such an event. In fact, it brought me one step closer to my dream, to make authentic French cuisine popular in my home city.

My experience with Chef Alain Ducasse resembled a dream. To be working alongside a 3-Michelin-starred chef, no one could have asked for more. You gain a lot of experience by just watching Chefs like Alan work, and I was lucky enough to work with him.




7. There has been a sudden burst of Café Concept in India in the past few years. What do you think about this?
It’s great to see everyone has been so drawn towards food. Everybody is experimenting with new stuff, they have become bolder. More Passion on the plate, I love it. The audience, too, has increased. People are now more open to try things. Earlier, they were set in their ways. Now everybody wants to try something different, something they haven’t eaten before. It’s great to see these wonderful places and try their food.

8. Here in India, people love Italian, French and other cuisines. Do you think Indian food is accepted and loved in other countries in the same manner?
Indian food is famous for its spices. Thus, love for Indian food is an acquired taste. People who love flavour, who love variety, love Indian. For eg- not everybody likes French. I have my own specific audience for French food. People who do not like the French cuisine would probably not enjoy the food at my café. It’s the same with Indian food in other countries. In fact, for any kind of cuisine. Every cuisine has its own lovers, die-hard fans, if you want to call them. Indian cuisine has its lovers too.

9. What are your future plans?
My dream has always been to open a couple of fine dining restaurants in the city. With Paris being my favorite city and food being my dream job, it was but natural that I started with Paris Café. The great feeling that came with the opening of my first outlet was like an adrenaline rush, and I wanted more. Slowly, steadily my second outlet came up. And now, when I look into the future, I see myself as the owner of a chain of fine dining restaurants serving terrific food to people. 

10. Paris Café has already gained popularity and won few awards and you have achieved great heights in your life. There are many budding chefs and amateur cooks who have the same dream as yours. Any message for them?

Don’t give up. Really. The satisfaction that you get when you achieve your dreams is unparalleled. Being a chef is the most amazing job in the world. The feeling you experience when you present your food, and the comments of a happy customer, they are all worth it. So follow your dream, do what you love most, and do it with full passion.


Suman

Dreamer, Blogger, Writer, Foodie, Movie buff, Public Relations. Contributor for The New Indian Express and recently started a news publishing website 'Unkrate'.

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