Anyone can cook, but only the fearless will be great; Chef Ajai Sharma’s ratatouille-inspired story

“There’s no better karma than feeding a hungry person.” Says The Indian Culinary Chef Ajai Sharma, who follows the beliefs of Goddess Annapurna (Hindu Goddess of food and nourishment), mapping his journey as the Chef De Partie at New York’s famous Cafe Altro Paradiso. “Cooking has given me a new identity. When I look at the title of ‘Chef’ as a prefix to my name, I know that it’s something I’ve earned and that I have to live up to it and have a sense of pride. It’s not just something I do. It’s who I am.”

Honing his first exemplary breakthrough in New York’s Michelin Star Gramercy Tavern and Cafe Altro Paradisio. “My first restaurant experience in New York City was everything a person can dream of; well, as they say, New York City is a concrete jungle where dreams are made of. I went to New York to be born again,” says the Chef.

For Ajai, cooking is more than just preparing meals and serving people. It’s an outlet to start conversations, celebrate cherished memories, and bring stories out of people.

Speaking of his dedication to his profession, Ajai mentioned how he is curious about the everyday food and ingredients he deals with, as it excites him to learn something new every day, and he is always excited to work with people around him. 

The young chef was featured in a renowned magazine for the October 2020 issue and appeared on a talk show on Radio Mirchi USA. Choosing a career as a chef gave rise to some unwanted surprises, which strengthened him. He proudly addresses himself as a “Baawarchi” to break Indian stereotypes. 

As a professional in one of the finest places in the US, Ajai’s life is full of new experiences and learnings with exposure to a vast multicultural diversity. “As a chef belonging to the Indian diaspora, staying in the US is an enthralling experience altogether. You don’t just come across people; you come across cultures,” says the young chef. He is so grateful for his experiences in the city and has an optimistic approach towards paying it back in his lifetime.

His “The Culinary Epic of Jeddah,” which tells the tale of an Arabian Gateway, is the first effort of Chef Ajai as a writer. His book is available at various stores and online platforms like Amazon and Kindle, with his first book being a massive success. When asked about his future books and projects, “I’m motivated and currently working on a new book, which is yet untitled, but the synopsis I can give about the project is that it is based on Indian Cuisine. It is not any recipe book but a historical depiction of the cuisine, and it will be out later in 2023”. 

He has also launched his podcast show “Bite in with Baawarchi” By Chef Ajai Sharma on Spotify during the lockdown. It features Chefs, foodies, and people from the hospitality industry who share their food memories and experiences; the podcast has many listeners in over 20+ countries worldwide, which made him and his podcast to the list of Spotify Wrapped for a third consecutive year. In his leisure time, he loves to sketch and read books.

When asked about the most crucial lesson he has learned, he said, “Try things that might not work; you never know until you try. Even if something doesn’t work, at least you’ll know for next time. Trying new recipes also can spark your creativity, utterly separate from the original recipe, so experiment and, To Be Extraordinary, Give Your Best In the Ordinary.

Customers experience a brand, but many things go behind creating a memorable brand experience. A Chef is as good as his team and vice versa. It is crucial to respect team members, even if they are juniors and less experienced. They feel valued when they get respect from accomplished leaders.

He has a vast knowledge of cooking, ingredients, and the origin of different cuisines. To share this knowledge with the world, Ajai has big plans to curate something extraordinary for his audience and to share that in phases as he advances in life. 

Ajai’s journey as a chef, from cooking with his mother in his home kitchen to cooking alongside some of the great Chefs at the most prominent restaurants in New York, is a testament to his unwavering dedication and zeal to keep going regardless of the obstacles. A message Ajai intends to pass on to upcoming chefs propels them to fall in love with the growth process. “Never stop dreaming. You’ll get rewards only when you’re yourself in the truest sense.”

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