It’s all about the “Wide Smile and Pride”

Mohit Dudeja

21-year-old Mohit Dudeja, currently holds the position of Assistant Pastry Chef at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts, Bangalore. An alumnus of Lavonne, Chef Mohit graduated with a Diploma in Patisserie, in 2015. Following his short stint at Trident Hotel, Mumbai, he underwent a 40 day training program in Korea where he focused on improving his skills in sugar, before returning to Lavonne Academy as an Assistant Pastry Chef.

Mohit Dudeja interacted with Sagrika Sanjay from Food Marketing & Technology-India. Excerpts from the interview…

Q Please introduce yourself and tell us about your achievements.

I am a bakery artist where I play with flavours and colours to bring something new. My knowledge has upgraded with the course of time. Attending various workshops, with renowned pastry chefs such as Chef Nina Tarasova, Sheryl Bito, Joonie Tan, Han Jin Wook, Chef Antonio Bachour, Chef Carles Mampel, Chef Andres Lara, Chef Vinesh Johny and Chef Peter, has accelerated my growth.

I have showcased my skills at the World Skills qualifier held in Korea. I recently participated in the Junior Pastry Cup India, 2016, and at the EuroSkills in Manchester, UK. Seeing my skills and hard work, I was chosen by the Government of India as the representative to showcase my talent in Pastry and Confectionery in the finals at World Skills Abu Dhabi 2017.

I believe my age provides a chance to play with ingredients and recipes, experiment and grow. My journey since then has continued where I won the Silver Medal for the country in the category of Patisserie and Confectionery at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 and also won the medal for ‘Best of Nation’. Presently I hold the position of Assistant Pastry Chef at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts, Bangalore.

Q You have participated in many competitions. How do you feel about your recent win at the WorldSkill Competition?

It feels great honestly, to be able to see all the people, who put in a great deal of effort to help me get here, with a wide smile and pride post the competition. It has been an amazing journey from day one, of course with ups and downs but given the amount of learning and exposure in the industry, I`ve got no complaints. It has only made me realise how much more there is to learn.

Q You currently hold the position of an Assistant Pastry Chef in research and development in a baking school. How do you find your work?

I love my job. It is amazing to see how with such limited ingredients you can create a never ending list of things. The last one year I was only into pastry, post the competition, I`ve gotten into Bakery. Lamination is an obvious favourite, I`ve been trying to do a lot of new stuff with it.

Q Has the definition of pastries and cakes in India come up to the world standards? Can you tell us about the latest trends in India?

I think India is now completely at par with the European countries when it comes to desserts. Everyone is getting into gourmet. Pastry shops and cafes are opening up pan India that sell desserts from all parts of the world and it is being completely appreciated by the people.

Q In the Western Countries, there are different flours for cakes unlike in India. Does the unavailability of special flours affect the quality of cakes/pastries?

Of course, it does make a great difference. But we`ve found our way through it and it is new for the rest of the world. Recently, while working with Chef Andres Lara, he was surprised to see the lengths to which we have to go, to make ingredients available that are not found easily in the country.

Q What are the new lines of products that you are working on? Do we get to see infusion of Indian flavours in them?

These days, I`m working on laminated pastries. I’m experimenting with the folds, trying out different flavours, different shapes. I do love Indian desserts; I feel they have a completely different class and should be brought up to a global level. I`ve made some desserts that use Indian local ingredients and people have loved them. I also love using floral ingredients and Indian spices to suit the Indian palette.

Q In quick serve restaurants (QSR) and cafes, they serve frozen muffins etc. How different is the taste of frozen cupcakes, pattiserie etc. from freshly baked pastries and cakes. What about their impact on health?

Food safety indeed is important and should be taken very seriously. It is everybody’s concern, and it is difficult to find anyone who has not encountered an unpleasant moment of food borne illness at least once in their lives. But at the same time, it is a pleasure to see more and more chefs making their shift towards a kitchen that follows HACCP standards. It is indeed a steady process but the change is evident.

Q There are lot of food processing and technology machines being used in the food & hospitality services. Can you tell us some new trends that are catching up?

There is indeed a machine for almost everything and without a doubt we are very dependant. Machines have solved a lot of problems. They have precision, efficiency and excellent reliability. Planetary mixers, Dough sheeters, Kitchen aids, Robot coupes have become an important part of the kitchen. Then the new machines, like the enrobing, tempering, panning, macaron have taken over the entire industry by a storm and have made jobs much easier. I totally am a fan of technology and love what it has done for us so far and believe it`ll keep getting better every single day.

Q What made you choose this profession?

I have had an eye for detail and an enormous amount of love for all kinds of arts and learning from them. And pastry is no less. I`ve always been intrigued by Pastry chefs from all over the world. So, I decided to give this a shot, and winning this competition is just the beginning. I believe there is an unimaginable amount of things left to be learnt. So here I am, pushing myself everyday, trying out things that have not been done, improvising on my mistakes and cheering myself with the tiny achievements that I make every day.

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