Executive chef of the Hilton at London Heathrow, Terminal 5, Jasbir Dawar brings his own stylish – and flavoursome - touch to this prestigious local landmark. Overseeing the many main activities surrounding the food at the venue, including big banquet spreads, charity events and designing the individual menus, Dawar works closely with a team of about 25 chefs, making sure that the establishment’s signature dishes are exciting, and ones worth opening the mind for: “all year round, I design and present different theme-based menus to put a lasting stamp on our dishes”, he told us. “For the Chinese New Year theme menu, for example, I paired Luzhou Laojiao Zisha Dachu (a Chinese liqueur), Money 47 gin with salmon, Chinkiang vinegar, seaweed dust, lobster and sweet chilli savarin.” Dawar has had one of his radiant concoctions featured in the 50th anniversary edition of the Craft’s Guild of Chefs book. “It was the Red Velvet Tonka Ben panna cotta, white chocolate and raspberry spoon, with a rose petal ice-cream. That’s my quintessential style.” However, Jasbir made sure to add: “enabling my staff and helping them to grow is also very important. I make it a point to encourage their creativity, and give them free reign when crafting new meals – it is the best way to boost their confidence, and foster that team spirit. It’s about everyone achieving their best on a regular basis.” Much like the lofty airport surroundings then, Jasbir’s professional philosophy encourages experimentation, sophistication, and only ever aiming for the sky:
Tell us a bit about your inspiring journey on the way to becoming executive chef of Hilton (a 350 bedroom hotel) at Heathrow T5?
I started my culinary journey back in Delhi, India as a trainee at the Maurya Sheraton & Nikko Metropolitan hotels. Coming over from India and then reaching the top of my profession here is a very heartening experience for me and my family.
Starting from there to now as Executive Chef at a relatively young age has been a long and rewarding journey. I learned a lot from each stage of my career, be it as a CDP at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Marlow – my first job here to Sofitel Heathrow Hotel T5. I put in extraordinary long hours with a single minded devotion to excelling in the culinary industry.
Through all this, I followed my dedicated work ethic, professionalism and keen love for food as my guiding principles.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to use?
I love working with all seasonal ingredients, as they are packed with flavour and make me want to experiment. For example, I am enjoying designing dishes with heritage beetroot, sea buckthorn berries, Wester Ross salmon and Dingley Dell pork (welfare friendly pork).
Expand a little more on your role as the Executive Chef of Heathrow T5, please?
As well as running, managing and planning the main activities around the food-based duties daily basis, staff rostering, hiring, and training is also part of my role. The job means a lot of thinking on your feet, making swift decisions and being aware of even the minutest details in the kitchen. I have to source our supplies, manage our suppliers and food deliveries. Budgeting, costing and forecasting is a key part of my job, where we have to keep a close eye on our food costs and at the same time, offer good value and culinary experience to our customers. I am also part of the wider hotel management team and that involves its own responsibilities.
At the Hilton (T5), I look after the main (one Rosette) Gallery restaurant, River Bar, the Musetti coffee shop, and various corporate events.
How exactly does your culinary expertise and business knowledge come together in your executive position?
It is very important for those in the hospitality industry to be aware of the business impact of our roles. Designing a menu involves a lot of creativity and hard work, but that has to be done keeping the business requirements and limits in mind. That is when your effort will make it a success for everyone involved. I understand the requirements of different events and plan the menu around what would work for the paying customer. My role involves doing a lot of forecasting, sourcing the best products at the best prices, and managing food costs. I also have to work with different parts of the business and teams across the hotel to offer the best customer experience when a guest checks in, or comes to dine at our hotel.
Name some of your favourite dishes?
I like cooking our Blythburgh pork belly dish, with chorizo jam mash potato, white pudding beignet and black truffle jus at our restaurant at the Hilton.
Do you think good food can really make a difference to one’s day?
Yes - especially as most of us lead such busy, hectic lives. At the end of a hard day at work, a good meal can bring a smile to everyone’s lips and help us relax.
Do you think a good restaurant environment is key to enjoy one’s meal?
That I’m not so sure about. You might brand yourself as a fine dining establishment with an ambience to match, but you might not necessarily enjoy the food. For example, at Galvin at Windows you get the best views of London, and also an equally inspiring menu. So the quality and taste of the food must be supreme. Similarly, you can sit at a roadside dhaba in India or eat standing around a street food vendor at a market and you may feel like you had the best culinary experience of your life!
Name a good restaurant you’ve eaten at recently?
Indian Accent at Delhi is a theatre of fusion Indian food. I enjoyed trying Indian cuisine with a twist there.
Finally do you have a life motto?
Live life King size