While bakers operate only on baked goods and existing recipes, a pastry chef specialises in desserts, pastries, bread and other baked specialities. Thus they are ‘very’ important to a restaurant kitchen. One such pastry chef, vital to Indore Marriott, is Chef Sikandar Mohammed, who dishes elaborate recipes with a creative presentation. This weekend, I got chatting with Chef Sikander Mohammed over a chocolate hazelnut mousse, who revealed, how he draws his dessert inspiration from his dad, also an excellent chef. We spoke about his creative cooking, and 10-minutes into the conversation, I, concluded that chef Sikander’s childhood stories are positively as sweet as his desserts.
Sikander Mohammed studied his hotel management at Pusa in New Delhi. From there, he decided to follow his dad’s footsteps and specialise as a pastry chef. Over the years, Sikander worked with top hotels in Russia, Dubai, Qatar, Oman and Riyadh to learn and test his cooking skills. Since 2016, he has helmed the pastry section at Indore Marriott. I think, just like Adriano Zumbo, Sikander too is a sweet assassin renowned for adding unique ingredients to his desserts. To discover the secret of chef Sikander’s success, I traced his journey back to his childhood days, to the time when his father baked him incredible desserts for the holidays!
As a child, Chef Sikander would endlessly observe his father’s improbable cooking and plating skills. What amazed him most, was the special smile his father had – every time he prepared something special for the family. That was a reassurance that the most vital ingredient of any dessert is indeed, love! Chef Sikander garnered all the good qualities of his father and used them when he got to cooking. In the present time, pastry chef Sikander observes how taste, colours, and presentation affect the palate of a consumer and improvises accordingly.
The chocolate hazelnut mousse he baked today is a living example of his outstanding work. Intrigued by his work, I decided to play a rapid-fire with him to know him a little better. Here find out, what excites Chef Sikander Mohammed.
1. What is your favourite food to eat?
A: I enjoy eating Chinese and Indian cuisine the most.
2: Why did you choose to become a Chef?
A: I have always loved trying different cuisines. But, what ultimately inspired me to take up this profession was my father’s passion, to bake exquisite cakes at home. I chose to become a pastry chef so that, I, too can bake customised desserts alongside beautiful light cakes.
3: What is your favourite cuisine to cook and why?
A: If you are asking me other than desserts, then, I’d say Indo Chinese fusion.
4: Give me an example of a meal you would prepare for me?
A: I will cook you a delicious Indo-Chinese meal which will include a sweet corn soup, chicken fried rice, Manchurian of your choice, egg fried noodles and I will top it up with a special dessert that is a Chinese Darsaan with Vanilla ice cream.
5: What do you do to ensure the quality of the food?
A: As soon as I receive the raw material, I check the labelled dates to know if the product is good to use. From time to time, I also train staff to prepare and present meals more dependably. Most importantly, I always ensure that all meals leave the kitchen at the right temperature.
6: Tell me about that one accomplishment that you are most proud of?
A: Of all my accomplishments, the closest to my heart is the one when I first cooked an Indo-western Rasmalai mousse dessert and served it to my father. He loved it, and so did all the guests.
7: Tell me three things you consider to be your strengths?
A: Bakery, Pastry, and Sugar work
8: How much do you really love cooking?
A: Cooking is my ultimate passion. It is an art of preparing food with love, fresh ingredients, and well-thought presentation. Creativity and having the power to make people smile is the key to my success.