Kuldeep Singh, executive chef, Indian restaurant group Mela and Chowki
What has been your worst job?
When I worked at the Taj Group in India, I had to do an outdoor catering event in Ramgarh Forest hunting resort, where many dignitaries attended, including his Highness of Jaipur. We had to cater for 50 the middle of the forest and I was the chef de partie.
What was so bad about it?
When we arrived at the forest and opened our stock van we found our clay oven had cracked and, as a result, we had no equipment to cook the breads with. We did not have enough time to drive the three-and-a-half hours to our hotel in Jaipur to pick up another one.
Our company's reputation was on the line, as it would have been a great embarrassment for the Taj Group if our food was not cooked to perfection. It was also my first independent assignment as chef-de-partie.
Luckily a bit of innovation got us through, as we found an oil tin in our stock, which we emptied and converted into a temporary steel tandoor to cook the breads with.
What did you learn from the job?
I learnt various things from this experience. First, when things go wrong, don't panic and keep trying all the possible alternatives until the very last minute. In other words, never give up and you'll find things will start changing in your favour.
What is the best bit about your current role?
As executive chef, my current role allows me to organise my team and fuse together the different skills of my brigade to take Mela and Chowki to the next level.
We are currently rolling out Mela and Chowki in the UK, so it's a very exciting time for us right now. We launched our third Mela in Redhill, Surrey, in December and have received some really great feedback.
Our cuisine is very much based on regional Indian dishes and traditional recipes, served in a contemporary and relaxed setting, offering great value. We hope to build on our current success and introduce Mela and Chowki to those who are not familiar with our food.