Sweet Nothings

In conversation with Magnolia's super-talented chef Kiran Shetty
Sweet Nothings

Kiran Shivaram Shetty was born to rule the kitchens. When you watch him give instructions to his team at Magnolia, run around to ensure each cup cake and brownie turns out perfectly or add the finishing touches to a gorgeously decorated cake, you are convinced that he couldn't be anything else but a chef.

Kiran's culinary journey began with the Taj Group of Mumbai, after which he worked for the Burj Al Arab and the Lufthansa Group. He's had a glittering career with many medals and awards to his credit. But more than awards or rewards what keeps Kiran going is his, "inclination to give people that sweet contentment" as he puts it. His mantra for work – sweet treats bring out the best in a person. As foodies who love to be transported to Magnolia's dessert heaven every now and then, we certainly second what you say Chef!

Tell us more about your childhood and where you grew up...
I was born to a family of bankers and raised with two elder siblings in a town of southern India called Udupi. Udupi is known for its authentic traditional cuisine and spending my childhood there helped me develop a passion for food at an early age. The stage was set and I moved to Mumbai, one of India's most happening cities, to pursue my career in hospitality.

How did you end up becoming a pastry chef – isn't that a bit unusual?
I have always believed that desserts and sweets bring out the child in people and most people savour their treats. My passion for food combined with the inclination to give people that sweet contentment made me choose this career.

Do you just enjoy making yummy desserts or do you like cooking up other delicacies as well?
Although I have a zeal for desserts, I do occasionally create other dishes. I am well- versed with multiple cuisines and try to lend a helping hand to my wife who, incidentally, has great culinary skills!

You have worked at some of the finest patisseries and hotels across the world including the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Can you tell us about your experience there?
I began my career at the Taj Group of Hotels in Mumbai, India where I was exposed to a wide variety of patisseries. This kindled my interest in the subject and contributed towards my basic knowledge of the world of pastry. I later moved to Dubai to work for the Burj Al Arab where I was involved in creating a wide range of ice-creams, chocolates, pastries and baked goods. I had the privilege of working with some of the best pastry chefs and it was a very exciting opportunity
for me. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Later I moved to the Lufthansa Sky Group and was promoted as the Executive Pastry Chef in charge of pastry and bakery in all of Lufthansa's six kitchens in New Zealand.

What was most exciting about your New Zealand experience?
Working with the Lufthansa Group was quite challenging and required a lot of hard work and dedication. I headed a team of 34 people from various cultural backgrounds to cater to the needs of international airlines. We were involved in the preparation of more than 32,000 meals a day for over 13 international airlines like Emirates, Qantas and Air New Zealand!

What awards or medals did you win for your outstanding work?
I participated in The Emirates Culinary Guild in 2003 and won the first place for four plated desserts. I also participated in the New Zealand Culinary Competition for five consecutive years from 2004-2008. In 2006 I won the gold medal for Chocolate Desserts. Additionally, I also won 11 silver and four bronze medals for making desserts, wedding cake, chocolates and more.

How did you feel when you won the New Zealand Best Pastry Chef in 2008?
It was a dream come true! The competition was tough; there were 400 outstanding chefs vying for the title of the 'Best Pastry Chef Of The Year 2008', so winning it was very fulfilling. My friends and family were really proud of me.

How long have you been a pastry chef at Magnolia and what's a typical day like there?
I joined Magnolia in April last year and it has been a great experience so far. I head a team of 11 talented individuals and on a typical day we prepare fresh desserts like cup cakes, cakes, muffins, brownies, bars and cookies. We use the best raw materials to make fresh quality products as we aim at achieving complete customer satisfaction.

If you had to choose another career what would that be?
Although I am doing what I love, if I had to choose another career I would consider legal services!

How do you stay in shape being around all these delicious treats all day?
I work out for a couple of hours every day. I also make sure that I eat healthy and nutritious food and occasionally treat myself to desserts.

What is your favourite cuisine and what do you like to cook?
I love French and Italian cuisine. So I tend to make a lot pasta, risotto, frittata, terrine etc.

What do you like to do on the weekends?
I usually use my weekends to spend quality time with my family. I occasionally enjoy the beach or play sports.

You are fairly new here. What do you like the most about Dubai?
Dubai is a beautiful city with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Every person feels comfortable and respected here. Moreover, the fast life, quick developments, infrastructure and architectural excellence, all contribute to a wonderful experience.