Syed Basharat Hussain is the executive chef in one of the leading hotels of the valley who holds the distinction of being one amongst very few who introduced Mediterranean food in the Valley.
“Not many restaurants in Kashmir have been successful in catering to different food needs of the people. Leave experimenting with the food aside, not many here know how to lift someone’s mood with the cooking or what sort of special cuisines are to be prepared for different occasions,” says the chef.
"We serve a varied number of dips and dishes that have Mediterranean roots be it Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Mutabal, Chicken Al faham. My Ozzy, Khabsa and Mutabakh are hot favourites among foodies as I try to retain the original flavours."
Unlike the orthodox chefs, Basharat loves to play with herbs also and has created many signature dishes.
"As I have a specialty in continental cuisines, I keep on playing with different herbs like thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano etc. There is no intervention of Indian spices in these dishes. When I serve the dishes prepared with them, my clients find them at par with the ones served in any international restaurant," says Basharat.
1985 born Basharat comes from Gowharpora area of Budgam. But presently he is working in Srinagar.
From his childhood Basharat had an affinity for cooking and by 12 he began to create his own recipes.
"I would prepare something every day. My family enjoyed my cooking so much that they usually ended up licking their fingers after trying my food," says Basharat.
Although, chef by heart Basharat pursued Humanities, however, soon after finishing his graduation he joined Institute of Hotel Management, Rajbagh to pursue his cooking good food goal.
"My goals were clear. I knew I had to be a chef so I registered myself for a diploma course in food production."
Soon after finishing from here, he went for industrial training in Taj hotel in Srinagar.
After completing the training, Basharat was offered to pursue his vocal training in Taj by an executive chef there.
"In my vocal training my focus was continental cold section and it helped me a lot in my career."
When the training was over, Basharat was offered a job in Taj itself and for him it was a great opportunity which came his way.
"In 2012, I officially started my job and within one year only I got promoted. Seeing my work, I was promoted next year also."
He was then sent over to Faridabad for exposure training and later to Taj Kerala.
"After working for six years in Taj, I called it quits and began looking for other opportunities."
Soon he got a job in Hilton Worldwide and moved to Conrad Mecca in 2017.
"Hilton is a big brand and working at such a place has been a milestone in my career."
Basharat was working there when lockdown was imposed all over and he shifted back to Kashmir.
"I had come to spend the lockdown at home since there was no work. Due to travel ban and Covid related things I couldn’t return."
Instead of sitting idle at home, he joined hotel 'The Kabo's' as an executive chef.
"I manage some four restaurants there and have divided my team into different restaurants. All of them report to me and the menu is also being curated under my supervision."
The foods, according to him, which he prepares has won him many accolades.
"You can check the reviews of food yourself since I may not praise my own creations."
At home, Basharat says at home his family demands him to prepare delicious meals for them.
"Every day there is a new demand at home. They may spare me on weekdays, but on weekends it's me ruling the kitchen. Just now I have finished preparing Biryani since I had a day off today."
Basharat is of the opinion that youth should learn cooking and its techniques as it will at least fetch them a good living which is far better than running after government jobs
"There are so many crash courses being offered in the culinary field these days. Besides, cooking is not rocket science. It's a basic life skill and everybody should learn it and those who want to opt for a career choice should not shun away."