New Delhi (India), December 15: “There is no finer act than feeding a hungry person,” says Ajai Sharma, the Indian Chef who works as the Chef De Partie at New York’s acclaimed Cafe Altro Paradiso. “Cooking has given me a new sense of self.” When I see the word ‘Chef’ as a prefix to my name, I know it’s something I’ve earned, and I must uphold its value. It’s not just something I do; it’s who I am.” Ajai made his stellar debut at New York’s Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern and Cafe Altro Paradisio. “My first restaurant experience in New York City exceeded my expectations entirely. When I’m in New York, I want to walk down the street and feel this thing, like I’m in a movie.”, the Chef claims.
Ajai views cooking as more than just food preparation and serving it to people. It catalyzes to sparks discussions, honors special moments, and elicits personal narratives from people.
Ajai talked about his commitment to his career and how he turns off his gadgets when he enters the kitchen. The busiest times for him are on weekends. When folks go out to celebrate, he works relentlessly. He arrives an hour early each day to phase into his professional space and enjoy personal time in a lovely garden outside his restaurant.
Ajai’s life as a professional in one of the biggest cities in the US is full of new opportunities and learnings, with exposure to a wide range of cultural richness. “As a chef from the south Asian diaspora, living in the United States is an intriguing experience in and of itself. He explains that you don’t simply meet individuals; you meet cultures.” He is very grateful for his adventures and encounters in New York City and is enthusiastic about paying them back to the community in his lifetime.
When asked the most valuable lesson he had learned in life, he replied, “I believe in treating people with dignity. Compassion goes a long way in building your career irrespective of your industry.” We were taught to respect the lowest level of the hierarchy since they are the core strength of the brigade. You can’t operate a hospital merely because you’re a doctor.
Ajai’s trajectory as a chef, from cooking alongside his mother in his home kitchen to teaming up with some of the greatest Chefs at New York’s most prestigious restaurants, is a testament to his everlasting passion and enthusiasm to keep going no matter what. A message Ajai aims to convey to aspiring cooks is encouraging them to fall in love with the learning process. “Never give up dreaming. Only when you are completely yourself will you be rewarded.”
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