Chef Sijo Chandran, Culinary Director at RCP Hospitality : Blending Tradition with Innovation

In the dynamic and ever-evolving culinary landscape, few chefs manage to leave a lasting imprint with their innovative approaches and dedication to the craft. Chef Sijo Chandran stands out as one of these influential figures. As the Culinary Director at RCP Hospitality, Chef ┬áSijo Chandran has mastered the art of blending traditional flavors with modern techniques, steering culinary experiences that resonate across continents. In this exclusive interview with Hoteliers Web, Chef Sijo delves into his journey in the culinary world, sharing insights on maintaining quality across multiple venues, his sources of inspiration, and the future of dining. Join us as we explore the creative processes and philosophies of one of the culinary industry’s leading lights.

Hoteliers Web: What inspired you to pursue a career in culinary arts, and how did you end up as the Culinary Director at RCP Hospitality?

Chef Sijo Chandran: When I entered the hotel industry, I had no idea about it. I chose this profession to provide food and help my family. Once I started my career, I’ve always been passionate about food and the art of cooking. My journey to becoming Culinary Director at RCP Hospitality began with years of honing my skills in various kitchens, driven by a relentless pursuit of culinary excellence. Along the way, I embraced opportunities to learn from mentors, explore diverse cuisines, and challenge myself to innovate. My commitment to creativity and dedication to quality ultimately led me to this role, where I have the privilege of shaping culinary experiences across our restaurants.

Hoteliers Web: With your role overseeing new projects and R&D for recipes, what’s your approach to staying innovative in the culinary world?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Staying innovative in the culinary world is all about curiosity, experimentation, and a deep understanding of food trends and consumer preferences. I’m constantly seeking inspiration from global cuisines, emerging ingredients, and culinary techniques. Collaborating with talented chefs, conducting research, and staying attuned to customer feedback are also integral to our approach. By fostering a culture of creativity and embracing continuous learning, we ensure that our recipes and offerings remain fresh and exciting.

Hoteliers Web: Managing 16 restaurants across various regions in India and abroad sounds challenging. How do you ensure consistency while still embracing local flavors and preferences?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Managing restaurants across diverse regions requires a delicate balance between consistency and adaptation. We start by understanding the local palate, ingredients, and cultural nuances of each location. Then, we carefully integrate those elements into our menu offerings while maintaining the quality and standards that define our brand. Regular training, quality control measures, and clear communication channels help us ensure consistency across all our establishments while celebrating the unique flavors of each region.

Hoteliers Web: Can you share some exciting new projects or initiatives you’re currently working on within the hospitality industry?

Chef Sijo Chandran: While I can’t disclose specific projects, I can say that we’re always exploring new concepts, culinary trends, and innovative dining experiences. Whether it’s incorporating sustainable practices, embracing technology in the kitchen, or collaborating with local artisans, our goal is to continually push boundaries and exceed customer expectations.

Hoteliers Web: Travelling to different locations must offer a wealth of culinary inspiration. How do these experiences influence your approach to recipe development and menu planning?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Traveling is an invaluable source of culinary inspiration. Experiencing different cultures, cuisines, and ingredients firsthand allows me to bring a fresh perspective to recipe development and menu planning. I draw inspiration from the sights, sounds, and flavors of each destination, incorporating elements of global cuisine into our offerings while staying true to our brand identity.

Hoteliers Web: What are some key factors you consider when introducing new dishes or concepts to a diverse audience across multiple locations?

Chef Sijo Chandran: When introducing new dishes or concepts, understanding our audience is paramount. We conduct thorough market research, gather feedback from focus groups, and analyze data to ensure that our offerings resonate with diverse tastes and preferences. Additionally, we prioritize transparency and authenticity, providing customers with unique dining experiences that reflect our commitment to quality and innovation.

Hoteliers Web: With 20 new projects in the pipeline, what strategies do you employ to maintain quality and efficiency while scaling up operations?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Scaling up operations requires meticulous planning, streamlined processes, and a focus on quality control. We invest in training our staff, implementing standardized procedures, and leveraging technology to optimize efficiency. By maintaining open lines of communication and fostering a culture of excellence, we ensure that our standards are upheld across all locations, even as we expand.

Hoteliers Web: How do you balance the demand for traditional dishes with the need to innovate and introduce new culinary experiences to your customers?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Balancing tradition and innovation is a delicate dance. While we respect classic recipes and traditional dishes, we also recognize the importance of evolving with changing tastes and trends. Our approach involves a thoughtful blend of honoring culinary heritage while embracing creativity and experimentation. By offering a diverse range of options that cater to both traditionalists and adventurous eaters, we strive to provide something for everyone.

Hoteliers Web: Collaboration often fuels creativity. Can you discuss any partnerships or collaborations that have significantly impacted your approach to culinary development?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Collaboration is at the heart of culinary innovation. Whether it’s partnering with local farmers, artisans, or fellow chefs, these collaborations enrich our approach to culinary development. By sharing knowledge, resources, and ideas, we’re able to push boundaries, explore new techniques, and create memorable dining experiences that captivate our customers.

Hoteliers Web: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring chefs or culinary professionals looking to make their mark in the industry?

Chef Sijo Chandran: My advice to aspiring chefs and culinary professionals is to never stop learning, experimenting, and pushing the boundaries of creativity. Seek out mentors, embrace new experiences, and never lose sight of your passion for food. Stay humble, stay curious, and always strive for excellence. The culinary industry is constantly evolving, so be adaptable, resilient, and open to change. Above all, remember that success in this field requires dedication, hard work, and a genuine love for the craft.

Hoteliers Web: How has Chef Pillai inspired you throughout your career, and what valuable lessons or insights have you gained from working with him?

Chef Sijo Chandran: Still, I remember the first day Chef and I met each other. At that time, the Chef was just a chef he was working as an employee. Now he is a successful businessman. But from the first day until now, it took three and a half years of journey together. He has always been the same humble person. He always says that we need to trust people if we want to grow. If you don’t trust people, you can’t grow. He always does that; he finds the right people and invests in people more than in business. I learned from him to be humble and simple, then you can feel the ground reality. I learned from him how to make the right decision at the right time. He always says that the right decision is the key to success. If your decision is wrong, make sure that the wrong decision transforms into the right decision.

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