Story of Chef Nitin Pal Singh
My childhood was fascinated by the signature white jackets and white caps worn by chefs who work consistently to promote the joy of cooking and serving others in the passionate world of food. This passion turned into reality when my mother’s hand got fractured, giving the first opportunity of experiencing food and daily household chores. This event paved my inclination towards kitchen work and firmed me about taking my career as a Chef. Thereafter, my mother got me as a helping hand in the kitchen and enriched me with numerous tricks of good cooking. Time and inquisitiveness taught me shopping of food ingredients and savoring herb scents & flavors of food. The chef in making was being acknowledged by my family and their support & encouragement motivated me to become a chef.
The journey began with enrolling in IHM-Bhopal, industrial training in ITC Maurya Sheraton and finally joining India Habitat Centre (unit of Old World Hospitality) as Kitchen Management trainee.
With IHC my career got shaped enriching my learning experience, widening cuisine specialization base from North Indian cuisine to Chinese and Thai cuisine, from being a trainee to Chef de Cuisine. The Company entrusted me with various roles and encouraged my work and sent me to Shanghai & Hong Kong to master the style of authentic Thai & Chinese Cuisine. This opportunity gave me a rich experience of learning with the industry’s best chefs, learning about their cultures, and other nitty-gritty of their dishes. The time spent with IHC was and is an endearing experience with un-ending opportunities and unlimited exposure.
The next opportunity knocked the doors for working with Iceland water park, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE as Executive Chef and then with many more organizations.
There came a turning point where I was fortunate to work with Bright Hospitality Pvt ltd starting up a new multi-cuisine restaurant a café; The California Boulevard and AMPM café. This was altogether with a new experience of like sowing a seed and seeing it grow into a fully grown tree. Learned all aspects of starting a café being it planning, ownership, experimenting, menu planning, design layouts, staffing, budgeting, and pricing. This triggered a spark and provoked the theEntrepreneurwithinin me.
Being in the industry for more than 2 decades, and having rich experience in all spheres of Hospitality gave me the opportunity to write articles, blog writing for newspapers and magazines. It was all about meeting walks of people, starred chefs, and celebrities and understanding the lifestyles and replicating in the food I made.
The journey from Chef to Entrepreneur was for bigger goals to promote the joy of cooking and serving others by consistently working towards building a more passionate world for food. The transformation from Chef to Entrepreneur required a lot of courage as it was like moving from certainty to uncertainty and flipping the career from secured to unsecured one. The initial years of being an Entrepreneur was very tough and challenging as it required developing an edge over competitors and understanding various aspects of market dynamics. Good market research along with hard work was essential in order to keep up with the pace of continuously changing & fluctuating market trends and customer’s requirements. The in-depth knowledge of food, cooking, and market research made me realize that there is a dearth of talent in the market for good hands which can satisfy the awesome world of foodies.
With an idea to become a one-stop place for promoting food in mind I started “Cook and Bake Academy”
where the objective was to impart quality education and rigorous training to the students so that they can promote quality food and become competent enough to take up challenges in the hospitality industry. The goals of “Cook and Bake Academy” being achieved by imparting good knowledge about the food industry not only to students but also to the wide spectrum of customers like homemakers, corporates, etc. The classes are taken by trained chefs who give an insight into authentic food preparation and also bring in the twist also without disturbing the authenticity of the cuisine.
Looking backward, I feel that the opening of “Cook and Bake Academy” at that point in time was a great decision as the market was booming and all the homework done paid off in making my business model not only successful but taking it to another level. The start-up business like this involves a lot of risks and with time one realizes that it has become one-man show because the person is involved in handling everything like marketing, finance, administration, etc., to cut down on cost and in pursuit to achieve more. Initially one restricts himself of putting any additional penny where the things can be managed without money and avoid extravagant expenditures. The ventures were initially for me a hit and try one as many things were unknown and various options were required to be tried to fit into the success of the business model. Any fresh investment was, therefore, subject to risk and therefore any decisions involving investments were required to be taken judiciously and in a balanced manner without any emotional feelings in order to avoid sinking of the money. Getting appropriate licenses was another challenge.
The story of making an academy from start-up to profitable one was a mixture of hard work, proper planning, good strategy, and crystal glass clear thinking. The past experience of Chef helped me in becoming a good entrepreneur because of in-depth knowledge about the food and cooking, cost-effectiveness, optimization of raw material, etc., My Links with sellers supplying raw material at low prices and dependency on the consultant was avoided which helped me to curtail the expenditures and cut down on the cost of this new venture. Being a qualified chef the innovations and experiments could be done on my own in order to meet the ever-changing market dynamics and demands from the clients. Being a Chef and entrepreneur myself the system didn’t have to wait for approvals, resolution & decisions were quick. The cost of the set-up was cut down by hiring less trained staff and then training them according to your own need. My network with people and contacts helped me to bring in all the resources required for this start-up venture. My friends, colleagues, and family gave me more confidence and motivated me to take the step forward and make this remarkable decision that gave a new horizon to my career.
The graph of shifting my profession from a chef to become an entrepreneur has given me immense knowledge to improve my skills in all the aspects. The learning curve has gone really high in terms of being more responsible, spontaneous, interactive, and independent. It is more satisfying in terms of doing an experiment and innovation. Being an entrepreneur is more rewarding, learning, and exciting. In the end, I would like to thank all the people who are associated with me directly or indirectly and helped me to travel this roller coaster trip of my career and making it a smooth passage to move on with more excitement and zeal to go far.