There has been a season of changes at the Hyatt Regency Delhi as it reinvents itself this year with some wonderful new menus. Chef Ivan Chieregatti now takes over as the new Executive Chef. He brings with him more than 20 years of rich experience of culinary & cultures. Chef Ivan’s professional career began after he obtained a Diploma in Culinary and Kitchen Management from the Excelsior Della Valle, Ponte di Legano in Italy and a higher degree in Tourism and Management from the Bramante Institute in Milan, Italy. He has extensive experience in the world of culinary arts, having worked with a number of leading hotel chains worldwide, including Hilton, Kempinski, the Jumeirah, Hyatt Regency Dubai, Grand Hyatt Amman amongst many other renowned brands. Prior to joining Hyatt Regency Delhi, Chef last assignment was with the New World Manila Bay Hotel as an Executive Chef. A chef who has cooked for celebrities like Rolling Stone, Mariah Carey, Joe Coker, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Lenny Craviz, Elthon Jhon, Hugh Grant, Mike Tyson, Mika Hakkinen, Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, we sit down with him over his new menu at La Piazza to listen to his culinary journey.
Salt and Sandals: What drives you to be in the food and beverage industry?
Chef Ivan Chieregatti: Maybe it was in my DNA, you should consider that my first cooking experience alone, had happen when I was 8 year old, I was waiting my parents to come home during a very huge snow storm in Milan, I just prepared a soup and set the table for my parents, with a set of dishes and tablecloth kept from my mom for special occasions only, the creativity touch for the soup was just a pinch of dry oregano and candles in the tables. But the truth is that I discover the hospitality world when I was study, I start to work in Switzerland during summer season to pay my school and on doing this, I discovered the opportunity and potentiality of this job and world. Now I am doing this for living.
SnS: Where do you draw you inspiration from?
IC: I am a very good eater. I eat for the pleasure of eating and testing more than do it because I need to. I believe that inspiration is combination of techniques, bases and knowledge. Travel to different countries and try new spices, products will certainly assist on this process and give an important mindedness. We shall know the basics in order to create new combinations and approaches into the food. I always say that we must first know how to walk before you think to run.
SnS: What would be your advice to upcoming chefs?
IC: You see, today it has become very trendy to be a cook or chef. Maybe some talent show can delude the new generation on offering a dream job. But the reality is that this is a very hard work. Today, many Chefs speak 3 or 4 languages. You have to keep up and be always updating on new trends, techniques. It’s a continuous learning process. But I’ll admit that this is a fantastic and amazing profession which will give you the opportunity to meet a lot people, discover new cultures and express yourself.
SnS: What is the most essential item in your kitchen?
IC: A long wooden spoon and a large non stick pan. Than for sure 3 types of extra virgin olive oil and 3 different kinds of salt. It’s very interesting to discover how salt can modify test and texture of a product.
SnS: What do you cook at home that you never cook at your restaurant?
IC: It’s called “Pollo della nonna”. This is an old recipe of chicken leg that my grandmother was use to do it for me when I was a child, simple but so delicious served with zucchini. I also like to prepare spaghetti with smoked salmon sometime.
SnS: What are 3 tips for running a successful kitchen?
IC: A good start can be techniques, products, adaptability and flexibility on the market, but not necessary in this order.
SnS: What’s your regular comfort meal?
SnS: If you were to open a new restaurant, what style of food would you pick and where would you want it to be located?
IC: For sure I will consider an Italian restaurant where you can eat nice and authentic dishes. It is what we are currently doing in La Piazza with the new menu. Unfortunately the progress sometimes leads to a loss of traditions and cultures, think about how we was ate 50 years ago and where we are now. From braised food we switched to molecular cooking. Interesting, a lot, but at what price? What we are losing or forgetting?
SnS: When you’re at home or someone else cooks for you, do people feel pressured to cook you something fancy because you’re a big chef yourself?
IC: I guess if someone else shall cooks for me for the first time, probably he/she will feel a bit of pressured but soon they will realize that I have a really easy going approach. The problem is when friends want to invite me out for dinner, in a restaurant I have different expectations, so they give up.
SnS: Mention one project which is very close to your heart?
IC: Yes there is a CSR activity which my wife started. At least once a year we prepare and bring food to the most needy children in a school, normally cooked at home. We generally bring pasta with meat, fried rice and spring rolls, dessert, milk and orange juice with candy and chocolates usually for 30 children between 3 and 6 years old. We have started to do this in Philippines in the region of Bataan where my wife is from and we will continue to do it in the foreseeable future for the same institution.