ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Canadian Chef Profiles: Chef Rene Bhullar - Calcutta Cricket Club, Calgary AB

Updated on July 24, 2017
Chef Rene Bhullar
Chef Rene Bhullar

Chef Rene Bhullar took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his new role as executive chef at Calcutta Cricket Club.

Rene told me that while he was earning a degree in chemistry at university, he enjoyed cooking for himself. He started to work in the pharmaceutical industry, but realized that he might have a future as a professional chef. He says, “I applied for a job as a cook and started working. I’ve been cooking professionally for about five years now. I haven’t looked back since. It’s just a really enjoyable job.”

Starting in his mid-30’s meant that Rene had to learn through a combination of experimentation and observation. He explains, “I just jumped into the industry and I wasn’t afraid to try things, so I could speed up my improvement. If I didn’t know how to do something, I would just try it to get accustomed to cooking. I would just do things and see if they worked. I absorbed everything from everybody around me. If there was anybody who could do stuff that I couldn’t do, I would watch them and learn.”

The Bengali cuisine at Calcutta Cricket Club is a departure from what people usually associate with “Indian food” in Canada. Rene says, “Most of the food you see in Indian restaurants in Canada is Punjabi-style food which is heavy and rich. Bengali food is lighter and more fragrant. I just try not to do not too much to it and I just let the flavours speak for themselves.”

Papri Chaat - Semolina crisps, spiced potatoes, yogurt, onions, chickpeas, mint, tamarind, chaat masala.
Papri Chaat - Semolina crisps, spiced potatoes, yogurt, onions, chickpeas, mint, tamarind, chaat masala.

Rather than trying to create a new style of cuisine, Rene wants to present classic Bengali dishes for people to experience. He says, “For example, our chicken rezala is a classic dish that’s been around for a long time. It wasn’t anything that I invented. It’s a very special dish in certain parts of India and I just decided to do it my way.”

One of the dishes for which he has a lot of respect is Calcutta Cricket Club's lamb shank kosha mangsho. Rene describes the dish, “It’s a play on a traditional festive Bengali dish. We did it with a lamb shank rather than mutton pieces. We serve it with a rice dish called mishti pulao. It’s full of cashews, raisins and a lot of spices like mace, cinnamon and ground cardamom. I think that’s probably one of dishes on the menu that’s most representative of what we’re trying to do here.”

Quality is the main motivating factor behind Rene’s sourcing of ingredients. He wants to find the highest quality in all of his produce and meats because that ultimately adds to the quality of the finished dishes. He says, “I try to maintain a good relationship with my suppliers so I can get the best quality ingredients from them.”

One of the crucial traits for any chef is the ability to stand behind the food that they create. Rene points out, “You have to have a lot of confidence in your food. You just have to be willing to put your food out there and take any criticism that you get. You have to have a thick skin. Some people will like it, some people will hate it and you just have to accept both sides of that.”

Lamb Shank Kosha Mangsho - Slowly braised lamb shank served with traditional mishti pulao with cashews.
Lamb Shank Kosha Mangsho - Slowly braised lamb shank served with traditional mishti pulao with cashews.

In his kitchen team, Rene mostly looks for people who are going to be willing to learn new things. He elaborates, “Most of the kitchen team doesn’t have a lot of experience with Indian food or Bengali cuisine. They’ve learned quickly and they’re starting to pick up the nuances of it. You need to be willing to do more than come in and cook monotonously. You have to understand what kind of food you’re cooking, just so it makes sense to you. There’s a lot of different ingredients they’ve never heard of. A lot of the spices they’ve never heard of, we use different oils they’ve never used and different techniques of cooking, so you have to be open minded.”

In a year, he hopes that Calcutta Cricket Club will become a destination for people in search of something different when it comes to Indian cuisine. Rene says, “A year down the road, I’d like to be synonymous with a certain type of more upscale Indian dining in Calgary. There’s not too much of it here and I’d like to be an alternative to the classic choices that people make when they think of Indian food here. “

In order to deal with the demands of his job, Rene tries to keep himself mentally and physically sharp and ready to perform. He says, “I read a lot, watch a lot of YouTube cooking videos and keep in shape. I go to the gym every day. It’s a long, hard road and you have to be prepared for it and stick to it. As soon as you stop preparing for it, it becomes a lot rougher than you think it’s going to be. If you’re not exercising your mind and your body, you’ll just fall apart.”

Phuchkas - Spherical fried semolina filled with potato, chickpeas, cilantro and chilies.
Phuchkas - Spherical fried semolina filled with potato, chickpeas, cilantro and chilies.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)