As a food & beverage consultant, I spend months, days and hours deep in thought, imagining the cuisine, the varied dishes, the garnishes and getting excited in anticipation of all the possibilities.
In India, chai is more than just a simple cup of tea – it is woven into the fabric of this nation. Chai time in every home is a time to catch a breath and escape the hustle and bustle of the day to reconnect. It is always characterised by storytelling and the sharing of news as spicy and flavourful as the tea itself - Chai Time at Aramness is no different.
Luck was on my side when I alongside the Aramness kitchen team got a few months more than usual for the execution of the meals, including simulation, trials, training, updating, and revising. During the first few days of induction, I stood before a team of young, eager and excited boys and girls – a handful of them were fresh graduates. Each came with experiences from various parts of India, with different backgrounds, languages and culinary expertise.
At the first reading session of the full menu and concept with the team, I noticed how each one of them took keen interest, listened carefully to all the recipes and cuisines whether or not they were within their assigned section.
During the simulation, these young chefs actively worked in tandem with each other, taking ownership of each dish, and not just focusing on their department. Our talented bakers supported the continental chefs; the Gujarati Maraj worked alongside the tandoor chef. The whole team watched our Gujarati Maraj make sukhadi to learn the subtle nuances of creating this classic authentic regional sweet dish.
When we served Gujarati thali to our first guests at the lodge, the whole team stood together in anticipation of the feedback. During the entire two months of simulation, not a single chef took any leave because they wanted to be there for each other and ensure they made each meal to utter perfection.
This is the team that rises before 4 am to juice the oranges for the wake-up trays and pack fresh sandwiches for the game drive snack boxes. They note down guest preferences, such as “does not like peppers” and ensure that not a single pepper goes in their plate. From breakfast, lunch, dinner and the delicious picnic surprises to the snacks placed in the Kothi and the thoughtful little touches in between, they have got it all taken care of.
Catering to all dietary needs and cultural preferences, this team is extremely watchful of waste. This dynamic team loves to solve problems, take responsibility and support one another. Taking complete ownership of the kitchen, the team also plays an extremely proactive role in nurturing our edible garden alongside our gardeners. When our tandoors came in, the team got together to perform a little pooja. They said this helped bring positive energy in the kitchen as from here we feed our guests – each dish is prepared with a lot of warmth and love.
The memorable culinary experience which awaits every guest at our luxury lodge near Gir National Park is thanks to the continued efforts of this team. By the end of the simulation, the team dynamics and the great rapport brought tears to my eyes. The success of the Aramness food concept truly lies in the worthy hands of this brilliant team and I am honoured to be working alongside them.