A heart to heart with The Clubhouse Restaurant’s Thai-Chinese Senior Chef, Raj Kumar Gurung
Working towards his 27th year as a chef, Raj Kumar Gurung grew up in India. Ever since he was small, he wanted to do something for Nepal and after 25 years of experience notched under his belt, he came to Nepal- for the first time. A little over a year and a half since then, Gurung has worked as the Thai-Chinese Senior Chef in The Clubhouse Restaurant at Gokarna Forest Resort.
He started his career is India and flit from one small restaurant to the other. When asked how he dealt with his work he replied, “A person needs to have confidence in himself, but just blindly bluffing is foolish bravery. A person needs to back his words with his actions. I practiced honing my skills at those small restaurants and by believing in myself, I gradually rose from working at small restaurants to even working at 5-star hotels in India.”
Humble and soft spoken Chef Raj Kumar Gurung has worked at renowned hotels such as Le Méridien, Holiday Inn and The InterContinental Hotel among others. Gurung still does not think of himself as a ‘Master Chef’, he said, “I consider myself to be a cook who cooks good food, or at least I try to.”
“Talking about experiences, it never ends. There is always something new to learn, something new to see. You cannot just think that you know everything. Life is a continuous learning experience. The more we embrace learning, the better our lives will be. Then there are some things that you need to innovate and make especially in the culinary industry; these learnings will become extremely fruitful at that time.”
“While choosing our menus, we need to cater to our guests. Then we create menus that target all of our guests so that everyone can have a comforting experience. In Thai-Chinese cuisine, plating is not given as much importance as the main focus is on the taste of the dish. Although plating is not that much of a concern, the finishing of the dish is. So, different techniques of cutting vegetables or meat are used to make the dish shine.”, he said in response to how a dish is typically made.
What do you believe is the most important aspect of cooking?
Above all, Chef Raj Kumar firmly believes that the most important part of cooking is planning. “After a dish is brainstormed, the ingredients need to be present and ready before it can be cooked. If the ingredients are not there, then the menu cannot be prepared and given to the guests. So, first and foremost planning is essential to make everything go smoothly.”
Is there any advice that you’d like to give to young budding chefs?
“For aspiring chefs, always have patience. I never even knew that I wanted to become a cook before the opportunity came knocking down my door and I rose to the challenge. Another thing that I wish fellow chefs to consider is to focus on a particular cuisine. If you focus on a particular cuisine you will have much more knowledge in it and can become an expert in it. While learning from different cuisines is very commendable, it rids your senses from the actual taste and feel of a specific cuisine. So, my advice is to focus on a particular cuisine and give it your all.”
Gurung describes his journey as one full of surprises. He remains full of gratitude to each and everyone who helped shaped him into who he is now. Gurung looks forward to displaying the same zeal and enthusiasm in his work in his future endeavours too.