Head of Culinary Operations of The Bier Library, Bangalore, Chef Seemanta Barua recently spoke to The City 24/7. With more than 18 years of experience, his culinary expertise has reached across the oceans. He talks about food, menu planning and his style of cooking in an exclusive chat with Divyasri Nair.
Tell us a little about your experience in the food industry?
In short, 18 years and counting, began as an intern at ITC Rajputana Jaipur, and since then my culinary journey started. Early phase of 2000 got my career changing opportunity to work with world class cruise line (Princess Cruises), sailed for more than five years to almost every continent of the world, it was a different experience all together in term so food industry is concerned. The best exposure any beginner could get. Explored various assignment in setting up resorts, and restaurants in my home state (Assam) before i returned back to Africa for a new culinary journey. Few years later I returned back to India and headed to Bangalore, joined a dynamic team at Counterculture. In last 3 years have been successfully curating menu for many leading pubs and currently teamed up at The Bier Library.
When you were young, did you ever think about becoming a chef?
Having studied at the Sainik School in Goalpara, Assam, which prepares students for the National Defence Academy, my career path was pretty much decided by my parents. It was while i was appointed on mess duty in school, where i started assisting our canteen chefs that i first thought about pursuing my career in culinary arts. I had already made up my mind to pursue a degree in hotel management. I became a young rebel within my own folks!!! My parents refused to even pay my course fee hence I relocated to Kolkata and took an odd sales job to fund my fees.
How do you describe your style of cooking?
In my initial days, was inclined towards traditional Indian Cuisine, eventually while I was on board the cruise-liner, the spectrum of cuisine became diverse and vast, I got immense exposure to newer and contemporary style of cooking methodology, it changed the way i used to look at cooking, by the time I was leading a significant size of team members under my leadership, western cuisine and its techniques I started to adopt and use for curating modern Indian menus. A good amount of Asian style also influenced my style of cooking as I was part of a large Asian crew in the galley. While I was in Africa, I learned artisan methods of cooking and also use of ingredients which changed my perception.
A chef that you truly admire and why?
Chef Anthony Bourdain. Apart from his great culinary skills, his way of presenting complex food culture and concepts in a simplified way won my heart and made me a fan of him at an early stage.
Tell us about your role at The Bier Library? What can the food aficionados of Bangalore expect from the kitchen of Chef Sam?
Honestly speaking, it’s new baby (infant stage), I am more of a mentor to a great young energetic team in my kitchen. The menu has been curated by myself, Chef Manjit & Chef Mako. We have a common focus, simple, classical with a touch of country style presentation. We have put lots of emphasis in bringing back old Bangalore pub snacks, touchings, pickles from different parts of Indian regional cuisine. By virtue of Chef Manjit’s culinary journey across Karnataka cuisine, few regional classics are part of the menu at The Bier Library too.
A good menu is like the lifeline of any restaurant. So, what are the key points that one should take care of while planning a menu?
- Effective menu planning is rewarding in terms of time and money,
- Type of establishment
- Type of customer
- Equipment of the kitchen
- The balance in menu
- Repetition of color
- Wording of menu
- Last but not the least: Select language which guest can understand!!!
With over 18 years of culinary experience, what has been your success mantra?
- HUNGER TO LEARN
- BEING HUMAN
Lastly, any message for amateur chefs?
Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. Don’t worry about the future, just live in today and work hard.
About Chef Seemanta (Sam)
Specialties: Modern Indian, Western, South East Asian Cuisine
An innovative Chef with an exceptional record of service and experience in handling multiple clienteles and expertise across the globe for last 18 years. Recognised throughout career for being a visionary Chef and Culinary artist leveraging in-depth knowledge of the marketplace and the competitor landscape to significantly increase revenue and operational efficiency. Solid organizational, communication, and team building skills. Adept at conveying complex menu concepts in a simple and compelling manner. Expertise in Culinary Art trends, such as food preparation, menu development, event planning/catering, and inventory purchasing/control. Results-driven with extensive Corporate Training experience and solid expertise in the areas of restaurant management, hospitality, cooking, and facility management. Highly skilled in creating eye appealing menus. Demonstrates knowledge and experience in a diverse range of cuisines.
Chef Sam started his career with ITC hotels, TGIF, Princess Cruises, West Africa, Kaziranga (world heritage wildlife sanctuary) , Shanghai Salsa (Guwahati) and in Bangalore, was part of Counterculture, Whitefield, Stories chain of pubs. He is currently associated with The Bier Library (One of The biggest Brewery pub in the heart of Koramangala) as the head of Culinary Operations.