Get To Know Sizzling Tandoor’s Head Chef: Narpinder Bawa
Name: Narpinder Bawa
City: Victoria, BC
Current Restaurant: Sizzling Tandoor
Previous Restaurant: My home kitchen
Favourite Hobbies: Cooking, traveling, reading, and definitely indulging in some good Food Network shows!
Favourite Cookbook: I can’t say I am a cookbook reader. I am definitely known to have created a home book from neat recipes I’ve found in magazines at the doctor’s office, sharing recipes with friends and creating my own originals.
Favourite Food To Eat: Pizza!
Favourite Kitchen Gadget: Probably our Italian dough rolling machine. Rolling out hundreds of naan’s daily isn’t as fun as you would think, so this machine has definitely been a saviour.
Q&A With Narpinder Bawa
1. Do you have a lucky charm in your kitchen?
No lucky charm in particular other than my family. Whenever my husband or daughter are in any one of the stores we seem to get slammed. One might say I am biased, but we have had other chefs say the same when its slow!
2. Your favourite spice?
3. What’s the last thing you burned?
Funnily enough, it wasn’t actually a food item. If you’ve ever gone near a Tandoori oven you know that thing has some serious heat, so when you’re using you are putting your arm in the oven to put the dough on the wall of the oven you’ll notice that you permanently burn all of your arm hair!
4. What gets you angry in the kitchen?
I’m not sure there is anything in particular that makes me angry, but I definitely have pet peeves such as not wiping down a plate before it gets sent out or servers not picking up their food in time. We don’t use heat lamps in our expo area to avoid that crispy layer on our curries, so it’s crucial food pick up happens on time!
5. Latest flavour combination you discovered?
That’s a tough one. I am constantly playing around with flavours – especially when it comes to home cooked dinner parties that I host.
6. What’s the most expensive purchase in your kitchen?
Between the walk-in-coolers and the hood fans required for Indian commercial kitchens it’s a close call, but most likely the hood fan. The ventilation systems required to ventilate the extreme heat of Tandoor and extract the potent smells of spices are pricey to say the least!
7. Do you listen to music in the kitchen? What’s your favourite song?
Not particularly. Some of my younger chefs like to, so if there is music on then great, but I’m impartial to music playing or not. I tend to get in the zone when I am cooking, so I drown out the music eventually anyways.
8. Favourite comfort food?
When all is said and done I would say any basic Indian meal is what I turn to when I’m in need of comfort food. Probably a very simple homemade daal makhani sans the cream and roti.
9. Favourite smell in the kitchen?
Spices. Always spices! That’s how you know something flavourful is coming your way.
10. If you could change anything in the food industry what would it be?
Allowing copyright of your menu to retain originality. Recipes and menus get stolen way too often. It’s happened to me many times, and I’ve seen it happen to other great chefs who put so much into their original recipes. I guess that goes for any art form though whether that be it fashion, food, paintings, etc. Eventually original pieces tend get turned into knock-offs, but hopefully people can appreciate the original for its creativity and quality that will always get compromised in a knock off.
11. What do you admire in other chefs?
Chefs that work as a team. Being a creative is only aspect of our jobs. Realistically if we don’t work as a team and teach those that are working with us then our visions are gonna be difficult to bring to life.
12. Who is your greatest inspiration?
My husband. Whatever job or task he takes on he always takes it on head on with nothing but positivity. He is such a hard-worker and super determined, so watching him and having his support no matter what the circumstances has always been very inspirational.
13. What dish are you most proud of?
It’s hard to choose just one! It would depend if I was referring to something I’ve made for my family at home or a dish on our menu.
14. What ingredient can you not live without?
Salt. It’s impossible to make anything taste good without salt.
15. Your favourite advice for other aspiring chefs?
I guess this would just count as general advice be it any industry, but if this isn’t the only thing you can picture yourself doing then go do something else! Food doesn’t only serve as a physical need, but it can also really serve people emotionally which is why some food is referred to as comfort food. So, if you’re not putting your heart into each dish you make, then let me tell you: the physical toll a kitchen job can have on you is just not worth it! If you’re enjoying every bit of your job and your food is making others happy then no matter what the physical demands of the job are you will go home happy at the end of every night, and trust me, it is such a fulfilling feeling.