Executive Chef Chikku Renji, an Indian national, has 14 years of culinary experience, seven of which are in the UAE.
Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far?
I started my career with TAJ Group in India. Then, I worked with Kuwait Airways Flight Kitchen, Festa Bakes & Grills Resto, Abu Dhabi and I’m currently executive chef at Sarj Art Cafe & Restaurant.
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
I’m a foodie, and also a seafood lover. One of my regional breakfast combos is the puttu and spicy Kerala fish curry, and it’s my favourite. I like spicy dishes, and also coconut flavour; for fish, this is the best combination.
What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish.
Today, I’m cooking French trimmed lamb cutlets, with mint pesto and orange-glazed baby carrots and balsamic roasted celery.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
Truffle oil, avocado oil, Grana Padano cheese, truffles, Japanese Kobe Wagyu beef, baby cress, soft shell crabs, and more.
What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about?
As Dubai is considered one of the world’s top food hubs, trends are always changing. For me, it’s healthy breakfasts, plant-food products, vegan food, and also, as a result of the pandemic, anti-inflammatory beverages.
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
Always try to bring new products to the market; keep introducing, not only primary, but also secondary cuts of meat which are cost effective, without compromising on quality.
Also, keep in mind reducing food wastage and promoting more local products and new resources.