Sabir Merchant

Sabir Merchant

Born:

 

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

 

History:

 

I remember as a child cooking with my mother and grandmother, leaning how to make fresh ground spices and get the absolute best out of every ingredient, regardless of how little it cost. There was no waste in our house.

 

They inspired me to undertake my apprenticeship in 2004 at Taj Hotel, Aurangabad, in Central India. It was one of the most popular 5-star hotel chains in India and landing an apprenticeship helped shape my life.

 

I studied a Diploma of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at the Institute of Hotel Management in Aurangabad, while also completing my Bachelor in Business Administration.

 

Taj Hotel afforded me the opportunity to work at other locations around India and I ended up at Taj Lands End Hotel in Mumbai, where I cooked and served multiple Bollywood actors and famous celebrities like Sharukh Khan, Amitab Bacchan, Kareena Kapoor, Salman Khan and others. It was an incredible time in my young career, but I also knew that there were other challenges I wanted to pursue.

 

I arrived in Australia in 2007 and immediately commenced further study, finishing my Certificate III and IV in Commercial Cookery, a Certificate in Food Safety and Hygiene and Certificate in Nutrition.

 

I could sense the opportunity that lay in Australia and I was ready to grab it with both hands, but I was conscious of the fact that there was more to do and people to learn from.

 

I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible Chefs in a whole range of settings and I’ve discovered that the Chef that works hard to create a great meal at the local pub does it with just as much passion as someone in the kitchen of a fine dining establishment. We all love food and creating a wonderful experience for our customers.

 

Working on the Gold Coast, I had an array of amazing opportunities, including working at The Star Casino, Palazzo Versace, Mantra & Peppers on Salt, Sofitel in Broadbeach and the W Hotel Brisbane.

 

I’ve worked and had a leadership position in some of the resorts, hotels and restaurants, including Ramada Hotel, Charlie’s Café and Bar, Burleigh Heads Hotel, Northcliffe Surf Club and North Kirra Surf Club. I’ve collected so many friends along the way.

 

My philosophy with cooking is to keep it fresh and simple with highest quality and value. Food really is my religion and the kitchen is my place of worship. I love what I do; always have and always will.

 

I am always learning and so was happy to work 2 or 3 jobs at the same time, just to soak up the knowledge.

 

Now I can produce fresh, top quality food, as quickly as possible with the best presentation. Modern Australian cuisine, Italian cuisine and Mediterranean food helped me understand Indian cuisine better. It also helped me understand how to combine the flavours and the ingredients better.

 

 

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

 

My inspiration, drive and passion come from my family; my grandmother, mother and my wonderful wife.

 

Growing up, my grandmother taught me the basics about cooking and how to cook incredible meals with the simplest of equipment, but always using the freshest ingredients she could find.

 

She only had a single burner stove, mortar and pestle and clay pots and pans, but the flavours she was able to produce will stay with me for a lifetime.

 

 

While I enjoyed playing cricket and dancing with my friends, something about the fresh aroma that came from the kitchen attracted me.

 

Despite that, I had not decided what I wanted to be until I entered an actual kitchen of a hotel in the city in which I was born.

 

One of my cousin's friends was a Chef there and he gave me a glimpse in to how a kitchen operates. I had goose bumps when I witnessed the intensity of it all. They were all working so smoothly and in tune. The heat, the loud noises from the pans, the uniforms and the kitchen culture helped me decide what I wanted to be. I was 14 years old then.

 

How would you define your style?

 

Simple and ‘old school’. I like to try new techniques and styles of cooking and presentation, but at the end of the day, I want to produce a very authentic dish without any overt manipulation of cuisine and taste.

 

What is your feature flavour these days?

 

I have always been a huge fan of spicy food. Chilli and garlic would have to be my two most favourite ingredients. I’ve recently started playing with fennel and ginger, both for what they are capable of and their health benefits.

 

Obsessive-compulsive about?

 

Cleaning and hygiene. It’s a cliché, I know, but I’m fastidious about keeping everything clean. Everything has its place in my kitchen. It just makes life so much easier.

 

Your greatest culinary influence:

 

Apart from my mother and my wife, I learned most from the Head Chefs and Executive Chefs I worked with. My first Head Chef, Nathan Bennett, taught me how to work on the grill and on the pass in one of the busiest restaurants in Surfers Paradise, Charlies Cafe and Bar.

 

Chef Steve Zabo was my first Executive Chef at Palazzo Versace hotel, who taught me how to multitask and had a huge influence on my banquet cooking, recipes, and techniques.

 

I liked watching Gordon Ramsey on television just like anyone else. I hope I get to work with him some day so I can learn something from him too, but television and real life are very different! He has been an influence on me too with his marketing strategies.

 

What do you love about this business?

 

It’s all about meeting new people and creating new relationships. But the best part is the laughing and smiling faces you see at the end of the meal that you’ve just cooked for someone. It’s all about serving my community and that’s why I’m in business.

 

An ingredient you can’t live without?

 

Garlic and chilli. No arguments there.

 

Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?

 

It's not the menu item which is eyebrow-raising, but it's when the meal arrives. The taste and the value in all the dishes is the best part!

 

Signature dish:

 

Entree: GC Chicken Tikka. It can’t be beat.

Main: Avadhi Lamb Dum Biryani

Curry: Mysore Chilli Beef. Be ready for the heat!


Garlic Clove Indian Restaurant

Garlic Clove Indian Restaurant

Delve into recipes handed down through generations at local favourite Garlic Clove Indian Restaurant on Eggersdorf Road in Ormeau. A warm vibe that feels like you’re among friends greets you at the door, before settling in at white-clothed tables to delight in the spices and taste of rich curries and Indian delicacies with a few modern twists. Choose a drink from the fully stocked bar to help wash down an entrée such as crispy garlic, ginger, soy and chilli chicken; or tantalisingly tasty Masala prawns, each one charred slightly at the edges – succulent and simple. Choose an all-time favourite curry like classic butter chicken, with sides of steamed basmati rice and wholemeal roti; while those finding it difficult to choose can grab a trio of curries, served with saffron rice and naan.

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