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Curry Chef Jay Aims for the Stars

Forest Row curry chef Jay has set his sights on the ultimate accolade in the restaurant industry, after being given food for thought by two acclaimed Michelin starred chefs.
Chef Mohammed Haque Jay of Roochi Restaurant, 9 Hatfield Road, Forest Row, East Sussex, RH18 5DN, travelled to London’s Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel for an exclusive seminar organised by the trade magazine, Curry Life, on its tenth anniversary.

Throughout the day the specially invited audience of more than 100 Indian restaurant chefs and managers was able to learn the secrets of the trade from the master chefs, Atul Kochhar who heads the renowned Benares Restaurant and Bar in London, and Dominic Chapman, who revolutionised pub dining at The Royal Oak in Paley Street. Completing the star studded line up was French born front-of-house manager of The Royal Oak, Mo Gherras.

As well as sharing some of their personal experiences, the trio gave some hints and practical advice on how to achieve the high standard of gourmet cuisine and top notch service desired by the exacting Michelin inspectors.
Michelin stars are considered to the pinnacle of achievement in the culinary world but there are relatively few Indian restaurants currently holding the honour.

Mo Gherras underlined the commitment that was necessary in order to succeed in the profession: “You have to be prepared to be the first one to be there and the last to leave and that way you get respect,” he said. “Being a waiter is not just serving plates; it’s serving passion – if you mention food with passion, people will respond.”

Dominic Chapman told the chefs that he could see no reason why more Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants could not achieve in the Michelin Guides. “The beauty of your cooking is your spices,” he said. “You guys have the ability to balance those spices and with that talent your cuisine can only go from strength to strength,” he said.

A challenge was sent out to all chefs by Atul Kochhar who spoke about the need for the Indian restaurant industry to evolve and adapt by using more seasonal produce and good quality local and fresh ingredients rather than food produced on the sub continent: “You cannot cook good food without good ingredients,” he said, “If your food has got the best of Mother Nature you have to do little to improve it.”
He continued: “I love my industry and I want more Michelin stars amongst us. I’m totally fanatic about what is on my menu. It is my passion, how I work and how I cook. If you’re not passionate about what you do, you will struggle.”

At the end of the seminar, chefs and managers were awarded a special certificate in recognition of their dedication and commitment to raising the standards of food and service in their business.

Syed Belal Ahmed, Editor of Curry Life Magazine, said: “We organised the seminar because we want to raise the standard of food and service in Indian restaurants but we also want to encourage those chefs who have the aspiration and talent necessary to get to the top of the Michelin tree.”

Chef Jay, who already won string of accolades, said:
​​“The seminar was a golden opportunity for us to learn from three giants in the culinary world. It has definitely provided the inspiration for us to move onwards and upwards. Atul threw up some challenges for the Indian restaurant industry, but all three speakers made me realise that everything is achievable; we just have to focus on our core strengths and concentrate on creating more high quality food, and who knows? One day we, too, could achieve a Michelin star for our restaurant.”​​​​​​​​