Chef Arun Kumar Reddy at the helm in Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef
One of the most popular features of Vivanta by Taj, Coral Reef Maldives is their creative food and beverage options. The resort offers a diverse range of culinary options, including venues that change from a pizzeria during the day to a Thai hotspot at night and menus crafted according to the tastes of the guests.
At the helm of the resort’s kitchen brigade is Chef Arun, a well traveled chef from India who believes cooking is an art at its truest form. Here we talk about his culinary journey.
After completing school, Chef Arun started his bachelor’s degree in business commerce, but he felt it was not the right move. Since his heart was in cooking, he decided to take a three-year hotel management degree affiliated with American Hotel & Motel Association (AH&MA). In the three-year program, he was taught in four main areas of hotel operation, including front office, food production, housekeeping and service. His direction was always on food production during the studies, and which is he where is now.
His first experience in the hotel industry was at the five-star Majorda Beach Resort in Goa, India. Chef Arun was trained for two years in each department for six months each. He has even worked in stewarding since it was a crucial department to get to know hygiene in food production. Chef Arun has worked in five different countries, including the UK, Kuwait, India, Bhutan and finally here in the Maldives. He has 20 years of experience in the hotel industry, working at leading brands such as Marriot International, Starwood Hotel & Resorts and now Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.
Having a team of 25 staff that are trained in different cuisines here in Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef offers its guests with diverse cuisines from all over the world. From time to time, Chef Arun, who is specialized in Continental, Indian and Mediterranean Cuisines and pastry, organizes small competitions among his employees in order to to prepare unique and new dishes to serve the guests here in Taj. Also during his everyday rounds in the kitchen, he always have discussions with his staff to improvise dishes with their ideas.
From time to time, he would be asked by colleagues about his desire to move into hotel management, and his answer has always been, “Culinary art is the most interesting thing I can ever find. Always I can learn something new and interesting with cooking. I don’t find myself anywhere else”.
Chef Arun finds Maldives more peaceful and relaxing than all the other places he has worked in his 20-year long career, and he is loving each and every moment in the Maldives. Chef Arun’s goals are as simple as it can get; “In such a beautiful location, guests must be served with beautiful food.”
During my visit to Taj Coral Reef, I was offered to experience lunch prepared by Chef Arun’s kitchen brigade.
Trio of Tikki
This starter consisted of dahi kebab, wild mushroom galouti and a dal tikki cake which was assembled and served with a green chutney. The smell was just mind blowing with each cake having such a mouthwatering taste which takes you back to India. The cakes were seasoned to perfection with each cake having its signature concept alongside the famous Indian green chutney.
Batter Fried Sea Bass
My take on the European sea bass was just immaculate, with such a crispy fry on the batter coat served on a wooden base. The sea bass was very tender as it was cooked to perfection, and was served with mushy peas, malt vinegar and caper aioli. Each and every condiment went perfectly well with the sea bass. Seasoning of the batter fry was spot on.
Last but not the least, I ended my tasting with a high on an Italian classic tiramisu which was served in a beautiful setting. With such an appealing look even at first glance, the tiramisu tasted so well-balanced with the taste of coffee, ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese and the main sponge cake.
Photos by Mohamed Moomin