Khushwant Singh

Manjit Singh Gill Corporate Executive Chef, ITC Hotels

A Culinary Statesman

Manjit’s success can mainly be attributed to the fact that he continuously believed in the ethos and the philosophy of the company he represented and kept investing his creative skills into its tenets. The company in a quid pro quo kept investing in him, for it had found a man of a robust value system, grit, and grass-rooted common sense. He was not flaky and the kind to wilt under external forces and pressures in the food industry. Be it work culture or all things culinary.

‘The industry is going through a lot of churning, especially with all this new fusion food. Fortunately, I have not let the pressure change our ethos. Not that we cannot do it, but we prefer to remain traditional so that the world understands that’s what Indian food is,’ says Manjit, a dream that has been the hallmark of his career. ‘If all of us go fusion how will people the world over know what Indian food is all about?’ he asks, a statement that provokes my next question, as to what constitutes Indian food?

‘Indian food is not just “dishes”. It is a philosophy. It has a few fundamental guidelines. Any food cooked under those guidelines is Indian food. Indian food has evolved in two verticals that every food has − wellness and sustainability. Food is meant to achieve this purpose, and when cooked under Indian methods it is Indian.’ According to him Indian food is deeply grounded in five elements, three strands, three humors, six savors and nine feelings, a concept one can read in Manjit’s book, Secrets of Indian Gastronomy: With Choicest Traditional Indian Recipes from the Collections of Top Professional Chefs of India, a science that he mastered.

By now Manjit Gill was not only rising in his stature as a chef but also a statesman of sorts in the culinary world. Each step he took brought him more laurels as his name spread far and wide as the trailblazer of Indian gourmet food and the science behind it. In the year 2006, the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India honored him with a Lifetime Achievement award while Panjab University, Chandigarh in the same year awarded him with the Paryatan Ratna, a prestigious award given to pioneers in their field.

‘A veritable repository of all things culinary, Chef Gill wears his years of experience, knowledge and passion for cuisine ever so lightly. His most endearing quality is a generosity of spirit that allows him to share and mentor anyone who reaches out to him. Knowing him has been nothing short of an edification for me,’ says Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu, travel writer and food critic.

To carry forward his ideology, Manjit regularly engaged with premier gastronomy organizations to bring Indian food, its values as enshrined in the ancient and sacred textbooks to a global platform. He profusely thanks his company for believing in him and allowing him to champion Indian cooking on international forums.

Khushwant Singh
  • Agrima Goyal

    As cooking is mostly about chemical and physical changes, are Chef’s with science background at an advantage over others ?

    Agrima Goyal
    Class 11 (science stream)
    Intend to make a career in culinary science/arts