Sunday, August 11, 2013

Of Ravioli rituals at Olive Culinary Academy

Fifteen student chefs, two buddy chefs and a master chef comprise the Olive Culinary Academy structure. For those of you who dine at Olive (Qutub), the sunshine room aka the Greenhouse has been taken over, length to length and breadth to breadth by the first batch of OCA. This, shall remain in force till the OCA finds a permanent home.

The culinary wizard

The trail blazer of this venture, Chef Saby (Sabyasachi Gorai), is a bundle of nerves these days. As Reeta Skeeter chats with him, Saby mumbles something impromptu, "they pulled off that choco mousse cake well. It did not fall apart. It was not perfect but it was not anywhere near what I was fearing it to be." Clearly, his mind lies in getting every act being performed at OCA right. Skeeter has an opinion here... The OCA students did a fab job at the chocolate mousse cake. Spearheading a culinary academy with an international accreditation and holding the sessions at the premises of a very successful restaurant is not an easy task. But Chef Saby is not the one who is bogged down easily by anything that revolves around his passion: great food and better service. He shows Skeeter his cellphone and reveals it has not internet connectivity. He has even given up his laptop. He took an added responsibility (of the OCA) and tore away from his life what he deemed not-so-important at that point in time. The ever smiling Chef Noor-Al-Sabah and the gracious Subirendra Nath are among the faculty. 

The students

Skeets was on a self-invited visit to the OCA. She arrived when the lunch preparations were in progress. Every evening the 15 student chefs receive on their email addresses, the menu for the next day. They are given some warning as to what they are expected to do the following day. They can read the recipes, do their research and clear doubts with the buddy chefs or the master chef (Saby). The first batch at OCA come across as a confident lot. After all, they are handpicked by a star, after thorough interview rounds. Only two students who are over age(as per the prospectus limit) have been allowed on board. 

The students are a curious mix. There is Divija who comes across as extremely passionate about her new professional path (she is a lawyer and quit her job to study food); there is Sofya who left her job as a tax accountant in NY, came all the way to India and is exploring food. As Divija and Sofya share their experiences, they are rejoiced to discover Stephen's stint with a middle-eastern restaurant. Divija is cooking up mid-eastern food for a friend's' party and promptly asks Stephen for help with some of the food she wants to make. For Pradeep, it is about refining his skills as he has previously studied at a culinary school. Sahil, who has done his BBA in Marketing to make the parents happy, finally coaxed them to let him persuade his passion. Sagar and Akash are from a culinary background. Infact, Akash dropped his Australian study plans when he heard that he could get an opportunity to learn from and work with Saby (cult following?). Yasir, Mansi and Ananya have just finished school and have found the culinary practicals and academics at OCA as their calling. Girish and Ritu are the exceptions among the young lot and are thrilled at what they have learnt at OCA so far.


Everything at the Greenhouse at Olive seems to be moving in a rhythmic fashion. There's no causal banter, there are only jokes around food and more, around errors, if any. There are occasional shout-outs from Saby. No student escapes his hawk eyes. As Saby is talking to some visitors at the academy, he shouts at a student that what he has just thrown was pumpkin pulp that could have otherwise been used to make at least one and a half portions of pumpkin soup. The student gets the point and takes it well. The students are given top notch ingredients to work with and they ought to respect the same. They shout orders at each other. The one receiving the order promptly executes the task. This was an absolute delight to watch as it indicates they have been taught to work as a team and they do a mean job of it as is seen in what came. Skeeter has always regarded ravioli making as a ritual which requires utmost devotion, concentration and skill. She was particularly stupefied at the dexterity the OCA students showed at this skill. 

The Pasta ritual

The course

The students are taught at par with industry standards. Since it is a certificate course, it can be completed faster than an associate or bachelor's program. The one year course has two modules. Module one consists of theory sessions, pictorial and live demonstrations as well as practical sessions. Module two is a 6 month Paid Internship at branches of Olive countrywide. Whilst, the rest of the desired info is up for grabs at the OCA website, what is of particular interest is the TAKE HOME CHEF concept introduced at the OCA. The students at Olive Culinary Academy will come to your home and rustle up a gourmet dinner for you and your guests, assisted by master chefs and senior chefs.

Olive Culinary Academy,
One Style Mile, Mehrauli, New Delhi.
Mobile:+91 880 011 1279
Landline:+91 (011) 2957 4407

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