How I got here:
I studied at an Institute for Hotel Management in India, which is a government-run school, for three years, before being recruited by the Taj Hotel Group. I knew from my first year of training at school that I wanted to excel in F&B, and so undertook a management training programme at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi. Once I had finished my training in 1995, I moved onto another Taj hotel to help open it from the events side.
After a year or so I moved onto working at the Orient Express as restaurant manager . That restaurant was incredible, and at the time was the only one in India to be on the list of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World.
I decided to move to Dubai in 1999 to help open the Burj al Arab. I knew it would be a special experience so I took a step down to be assistant restaurant manager. Eventually I was promoted to restaurant manager of the hotel’s second restaurant on the top floor, but soon I was given the chance to be assistant F&B manager, and then F&B manager.
I stayed at the same hotel in Dubai for eight years, but my wife, who is originally from Holland, was eager to move back to Europe. It was then that I came across a position at The Berkeley and I took the chance to move to London as director of F&B.
Moving to London:
It was one of the best decisions I made coming to The Berkeley. Because I’ve always worked in hotels I never wanted to move anywhere where I’d feel I would do injustice to all my years, so I’d always look for opportunities that were better or similar to my current position. I took a step up coming to the Berkeley.
My first year here was quite difficult, coming from eight years in a huge hotel in Dubai where service standards and operations are so different. At the Burj al Arab I had more people on my staff than we have in the entire Berkeley hotel.
Working with Wareing and Koffmann:
The two restaurant openings at the hotel have been a blessing for me, as they were only announced after I joined.
It was a great experience for me when Marcus moved away from GRH in 2008, and Petrus turned into Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley. That was a great experience. And then in April the Boxwood Cafe moved out of the hotel and we worked to reopen Koffmanns. It’s great to have him back, he’s a great chef - there’s nothing he needs to prove anymore. It was a great experience working with him from the start and setting up a new kitchen too.
Most important experience:
The best training ground I ever had was at the Orient Express. Being Indian I never had a much exposure to French food, so I learned so much from working there. Not only in terms of food style but service skills, wine, carving on tables, flambéing as well.
My greatest achievement:
I feel like I have many great achievements, like being able to work at the Orient Express, for example, which I owe a lot to myself today. I’m also achieving high scores in our current staff engagement surveys which is fantastic.
I would quite like to work as hotel manager some day, but I’d like to gain more knowledge of the rooms side of the business first. The day I start feeling bad about coming to work is the day I stop working. But that hasn’t happened yet.