A Day In The Life Of Chef Chirag Makwana
Remember us telling you about how we’d be bringing you interesting stories by different chefs every month? This time, we chatted with Chef Chirag Makwana, the Senior Sous Chef at Toast & Tonic, Mumbai. He describes food as both his passion and his interest, having developed his love for it at a very young age. And so, we asked him to take us through his culinary journey.
“I grew up in Mumbai and, as a child, showed a great love for cooking as I spent hours pottering around in my mother’s kitchen. My early childhood and schooling were at Bombay Cambridge in Mumbai. To hone my culinary skills, I decided, at the age of 18, to move to Canada, where I trained as a chef and graduated with honours in Culinary Management from the prestigious Canadian Food and Wine Institute in Canada’s wine capital – Niagara. I spent over six years gaining invaluable experience in the kitchens of some of the most accomplished chefs in Canada including Massimo Capra, Michael Bonacini, Tony De Luca and others. I have worked at some of the finest restaurants in Canada like The Rainbow Room – By Massimo Capra (Crown Plaza Hotel), Jump, Oliver & Bonacini at the Windermere House, Beef Baron and more. I’m also the recipient of the Red Seal Chef Certificate, one of the highest certificates a Chef can receive in Canada.”
Today, he works as the Senior Sous Chef at BKC’s popular Toast & Tonic. So if you’ve ever visited and have absolutely loved the food, you know whom to thank! But what was it that brought him back from Canada to his homeland?
It was in 2015 that Chef Chirag decided to return to his roots. On his return, he joined the Olive group as a part of the opening team for their latest restaurant and bar venture – Toast & Tonic In Bangalore. In 2017, when Toast & Tonic, BKC Mumbai opened, he was a part of the set up team as well. “It was both challenging and exciting to set up yet another restaurant and this time, in a new city. In September this year, I moved base to Mumbai to head the kitchen as Senior Sous Chef, Toast & Tonic. I have been a part of this restaurant for three exciting years now.”
So, what does a day in the life of Chef Chirag Makwana really look like?
“I make sure I wake up at 7am every morning and go for my run for an hour or so before I get ready and head to work. I’m a tea addict so my day actually doesn’t start till I’ve had my cup of tea. Mornings are usually pretty hectic for me because I have to go for my run, wrap up breakfast and head out for work all by 10 am.”
“I get to work by 11 am, put on my apron and go through my emails first and make a to-do list. Then, I enter the kitchen and check everything at each station – set up my garnishes, tasting spoons and wiping towels, etc. Once service starts, I garnish and taste every plate that goes out from the kitchen. I’m also constantly going to the floor of the restaurant to check if everything is running smoothly and if the customers are happy. Once service is done, I sit down and have my cup of coffee while dealing with maintenance and ordering requirements that arise. I’m also present for the evening shift most of the times and help in the execution of the dinner service as well.”
When he gets a bit of spare time, he doesn’t use it to relax! In fact, Chef Chirag makes visits to the fresh market or meets with suppliers to see what’s new this season and how he can experiment with it and bring it in through their new ‘Wednesday Specials’. “Though the menu at Toast & Tonic offers a variety of culinary cultures and is decidedly international, it seeks to celebrate India’s diversity by working with seasonal Indian produce to ensure that it’s championed in a non-traditional way. This means we need to constantly experiment and explore new offerings to ensure our customers have a new and exciting experience each time they walk in.”
At the end of it, being on your feet all day can be difficult. That’s exactly why, the minute you leave your workplace, it’s important to leave behind your work as well. Chef Chirag believes in the same, but he also adds, “I try to switch off from my work mode as soon as I leave but that rarely happens. Work emails and calls keep me constantly busy even when I’m not physically at work. I try to spend a lot of time with my family and occasionally go out and meet my friend over drinks or dinner.” Feels, anyone?
Apart from cooking, he loves art, sculpting, playing music and riding bikes. He says, “I’ve always been inclined towards art and craft ever since I can remember. I think I get my artistic traits from my mother who is also artistically inclined. I also love learning to play different musical instruments and am self-taught with most of them. As of now, I play the guitar, percussions and piano.”
As we sign off, we ask him what it is about his job that he loves the most. What is it that makes him smile a mile wide the minute he walks in through the doors?
“I constantly get to meet and interact with a lot of new people. My staff is like family now and I’m constantly learning something new from them every single day. The fact that I get to feed so many people and know that I can make their day slightly better with the food I make, makes me very happy and content and that’s something I absolutely love!”