WE’RE WATCHING . . . Tushar Grover

By Cuisine5 Minutes
April 7, 2022By Cuisine

Complete focus on learning his craft drives this young chef, says Kerry Tyack.

 

Watching Tushar Grover work is completely mesmerising. The young chef hunches over, his face almost intimate with the bench, as he works to delicately place the tiny leaves that garnish his creation. He has the precision of a surgeon, his concentration is fierce, his commitment to his task unquestionable. When one dish is done, Tushar moves silently, seamlessly onto the next, without fanfare. He is all about the work, the delivery of something flawless, fabulous.

Tushar was born in the Punjab in northern India. He moved to New Zealand in 2017 when he was 23. Originally his intention was to go to Australia to complete an honours degree in economics. But his heart was not in business. It was in food and cooking. It took a few years for him to build the confidence to share his true feelings with family whom he knew expected him to work in their retail clothing business.

“I worked for my father while studying but my brother-in-law had a string of restaurants and I found myself constantly tugged toward the kitchen. I could not draw myself away into any other strong interest.”

With the support of family, Tushar enrolled at Cordon Bleu in Wellington. He is fulsome in his praise of his first tutors.

“I was in awe of the talent these guys had, their dedication. I remember one in particular, Paul Bonnet, who was amazing. He went to extreme lengths to help us, a very diverse group of students representing various cultures and backgrounds. Nothing was too much trouble. It was here I realised more than ever before that it is only cooking that truly makes me happy.”

A successful internship at Huka Lodge led to a permanent job.

“Chef Paul Froggatt was a huge influence in my development. He was so patient and helpful.”

Tushar has praise also for the input of other chefs in the brigade most of whom were French and had Michelin-star experience under their belts.

“It was like having my own set of European chef teachers. They made me question myself all the time, my understanding of food, my technique and my direction.”

When it came time to move on, Froggatt directed Tushar to Ed Verner.

“I asked Paul where he would go if he were a young chef with a passion for Nordic food and Japanese styling. He said, ‘Pasture’. So I put together an application and sent it to no one else.”

That was in 2020 and Tushar has been in residence as sous chef at the high-profile Auckland restaurant ever since.

“I learn so much from chef Ed. Every single day, every single service. His is a completely different vision of food from what I have experienced before. I am picking up skills I never thought I would need or use. I am learning that it’s not just about the kitchen. It’s interacting with guests, how to orchestrate an incredible evening for them and sending them away completely amazed.”

For Tushar there’s no such thing as life away from the kitchen. He’s in the zone, unable to easily draw a line between his work day and any time off.

“I know it sounds weird but I just love cooking so much that when I am asked what else interests me, I can’t answer. My partner and I spend our time together cooking at home, reading about food and other chefs, trying as many cafés and restaurants as possible.”

I find that completely believable. As our chat draws to a close, I have the feeling Tushar could happily talk for a lot longer about his ideas, his food philosophy, his plans. I have come across this level of passion before, but seldom in any chef as young. It’s fascinating.

There’s something very cool about Tushar Grover. Clearly one of his strengths is his calmness. Another is his dedication to his craft. The kitchen is obviously his nirvana and he seems uncompromising in his goal to become the consummate technician and artist.

That youthful staunchness certainly makes him one to watch.

Follow @chef_tushargrover on Instagram to keep up to date with Tushar and see what he is creating at Pasture.